Powerful PacingAs the 196,000 women runners over the age of 65 will tell you, you don't need to be setting records to stay with it. Nancy Wilson, 77, has been a member of the 65 Plus Club for 12 years and a runner since 1980. While she has completed hundreds of races, Wilson says, "I was never very competitive."
She is one of the millions of runners who "gets out there and does [her] thing" not to win trophies, but because she loves the sport and the people in it. After spotting two older men wearing "awesome jackets" at the Falmouth Road Race, Wilson asked them where they got their coats. The men told her that they were in the 65 Plus Club and that she should join in a few years when she was eligible (runners must be 64-and-a-half-years old to apply). "I wasn't in any club and I thought that would be kind of cool," she remembers.
Replacement surgery for a hip in 2006 and a knee in 2007 has made training more difficult, but Wilson still runs 24 road races each year. She says that the feeling of community she gets from the club and the energy gained from the races keep her going. "I think that a lot of people my age think it's just easier to sit around and do Sudoku, but I want to be running for as long as I can," says Wilson. She jokes, "I wouldn't mind if I did a race and croaked at the end. That would be awesome!"
Pass it OnWhether they're back-of-the-pack joggers, race walkers or world-record-shattering athletes, the women of the 65 Plus Club are all serious inspirations. Wilson remembers a recent 5K in which she placed in her age group. A little girl came up to her afterward and asked, "Are you the girl who won that race?" Wilson explains, "I'm always surprised when people come up to me and say I motivate them."
Wilson and her fellow club members prove that it's never too late to start exercising, and even if you retire, you can still put your running shoes to work. "What's 'old'?" says Wilson. "I don't know." Holmquist adds, "When I retire I want to find a way to reach out to more people—not the fast ones—just people who could be inspired by exercise. Running can help you feel better about yourself. It can save your life."
Sign up for your next race.
Jessica Sebor is the editor in chief of Women's Running Magazine, the world's largest women-specific running magazine.