83-year-old Margaret Smith from Brueton parkrun has become the oldest woman in parkrun history to join the 250 Club. This is her story:
I was born on 21 January 1934 in Birmingham. My mother was the eldest of 14, so perhaps that’s the reason I ended up being an only child! The first school I went to was Church Road Infants School until it was bombed during the war.
My father taught me how to ride a bike when I was about seven years old, starting a lifelong passion for physical activity. I represented my school at swimming, diving and netball. But it was cycling that became my sport of choice and where I had lots of success, winning several National Championships in various categories between 1952 and 2000. As well as racing, my husband and I also toured extensively around the UK and Europe by bike.
In 1982 my 21-year-old son was killed in a car crash. My way of dealing with the grief was to throw myself into training and racing, and over the next few years I set my fastest times as a cyclist. One of the achievements I am most proud of is a time of 1 hour 1 minute 23 seconds for 25 miles, which is quite fast!
At that time, my other son Peter had moved to Twickenham to study, and many years later in 2007 it was he who first introduced me to parkrun.
My husband had passed away in 1996, so Peter and I ran the 2006 London Marathon in his memory for charity. We then ran Bushy parkrun a few times together between 2007 and 2009 when I was visiting him in London, but it wasn’t until 2010 that I became a regular parkrunner. That was when Brueton parkrun started, which is 15 minutes from where I live. Cycling was no longer the same without my husband, so parkrun became part of my routine to keep active.
When Brueton parkrun started we would get around 50 people a week, but over time that has grown to around 500, which I think is fabulous. I have continued to do races too, for charity, including the Great North Run in 2016 and the inaugural Solihull Half Marathon this year. This event didn’t go exactly to plan though – a mile from the finish I tripped over and landed on my face. After being cleaned up I insisted on finishing the race, so the ambulance escorted me!
In addition to parkrun, I also run during the week on the treadmill, go to the gym, swim and do pilates to help keep me supple. Every day I walk at least seven miles with my husky-labrador cross, and on Sundays this is more like nine miles.
As for becoming the oldest women in history to reach 250 parkruns. People of all ages are often telling me that I inspire them, so if my milestone helps others to be happier, healthier and more active, then I’ll be happy with that!
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