iRun because it’s in meMichael Foley, Stittsville, ON

iRun so I donít say never ever again Linda Klaric, Manitoba

iRun because itís like flying, only lower Glenn Johnson, Ontario

iRun because it makes me whole Denis Ladouceur, Quebec

iRun because couch potatoes die young Cathy Andrew, Ontario

iRun because I want to be a role model for our six kids Catherine Empey, British Columbia

iRun for relaxation and to motivate my two sons Keith Bradbury, Newfoundland

iRun because it gets my husband out there Tricia LaLonde, Alberta

iRun because I like buying running clothes Pamela Blaikie, Ontario

iRun for the moment when both feet are off the ground Catherine Anderson, British Columbia

iRun to unleash my inner athleteAdelle Densham, Avonmore, ON

iRun because I learn more about who I am with every kmSteph Mansell, Quebec

iRun for health, i Run for life Pat Cheung, British Columbia

iRun because it gives me freedom to relax my brainMarie-Claude Gregoire, Nova Scotia

iRun because the wall is meant to be broken Jonathan Bird, Ontario

iRun to inspire my children! Wendy Bowen, Manitoba

iRun because it is my tonic and my salvation Georgia Ioannou, British Columbia

iRun because it gives my day a boost of energy Sara Campbell, Nova Scotia

iRun because of the peace and strength it brings meMichelle Jordan, Ottawa, ON

iRun to get to know myself, my strength and my spirit Lisa Groulx, Ontario

iRun to feel great Kathryn Rachar, Saskatchewan

iRun to challenge myself, physically and mentallyKathleen Keenan, Brampton, ON

iRun because food tastes better afterwards Patrick Houston, Alberta

iRun because iEat Sherry Maligaspe, British Columbia

iRun away from the abyss Charlene Thomas, Ontario

iRun because I love the sense of accomplishment Amber Moase, Nova Scotia

iRun because I liveGeorges Schneller, Laval, QC

iRun because I need it to soothe the soul, keep me in shape and for overall wellbeingBeth Neil, Lombardy, ON

iRun because it makes me feel powerful Sarah Kallaghan, Alberta

iRun to my happy place and some days itís very Doreen May, Alberta

iRun for the fresh air and adrenalin Charlyn McGregor, Saskatchewan

iRun because Iíve lost 80 lbs and running has become fun Cheryl Kelly, Ontario

iRun because I cannot say no to a second slice of chocolate cakeEmily Shandruk, Vancouver, BC

iRun because it gives me freedom to relax my brain Marie-Claude Gregoire, Nova Scotia

iRun because it reminds me that I am capable of so much more than I have doneJames Sauve, Ottawa, ON

iRun to inspire my kids to tryGlen Johnston, Nunavut

iRun because I canít dance Mario Javier, Ontario

iRun so I can eat ice cream Sandy Bolan, Ontario

iRun for the cool t-shirts! Pina Bevilacqua, Ontario

iRun because I get foot rubs afterward Kate Howerton, British Columbia

iRun because not everyone can Olivia Harvey, New Brunswick

iRun because couch potatoes die young Cathy Andrew, Ontario

iRun because my heart tells me to William Martin, Manitoba

iRun away from the negative and towards the positive Teri Lepard, Alberta

iRun because it has saved my life John Marshall, Alberta

iRun to someday win the race Lindy Dunlop, Yukon

iRun because it reminds me of how strong I can be Monique Lavoie, Ontario

iRun because somebody once told me I couldn't Heidi Abbey-Der, Saskatchewan

iRun because it sure beats the bus Robin Robbins, Alberta

iRun because itís better than almost everything else Nathan Carey, Ontario

iRun for the individual pursuit Robert Pelletier, New Brunswick

iRun because walking is too slow Barry Knapp, Ontario

iRun so my daughters know that they can, too Shelley Kirkpatrick, New Brunswick

iRun slowly! Jason Hoffman, Manitoba

iRun because I like to be healthy Melanie Oickle, New Brunswick

iRun to challenge my perceived limitations Cassandra Williams, Ontario

iRun because i love to Mirella Petriello, Ontario

iRun to satisfy the irresistible urge Tim Nixon, British Columbia

iRun for overall wellbeingTrish McCourt, Halifax, NS

iRun for meKiza Francis, Ottawa,ON

iRun because pecan pie, french fries and beer are chasing meTeresa Sterling, Ottawa , ON

iRun at 50 years old because at 43 I couldn't Peter Cicalo, Ontario

iRun because itís cheaper than therapy Leah Boulter, Alberta

iRun because it's better than almost everything else Nathan Carey, Ontario

iRun because itís fun when itís done Sue Matte, Ontario

iRun because I want to qualify for Boston and raise money for charities near and dear to my heartChristine Gracel, Calgary, AB

iRun to kickstart my day Sharon Strueby, Saskatchewan

iRun to challenge my mind, body and soul Sonia Mendes, Ontario

iRun all the livelong day Pierre Saint-Laurent, Quťbec

iRun because it's cheaper than therapy Leah Boulter, Alberta

iRun to be free and enjoy our beautiful countryCheryl Carter, Clearwater , BC

iRun because there is no finish line Claire Kilgour, Ontario

iRun because all the ladies are chasing my sexy runner’s bodyChris Baker, Etobicoke, ON

iRun to maintain a strong physical and mental state Tammy Rainville, Ontario

iRun because I love the solitude Janene Tailleur, British Columbia

iRun to stay fit and release those running endorphinsLiliana Plava, Calgary, AB

iRun because people around me inspire mePina Bevilacqua, Caledon, ON

iRun because it makes me a better person, a better wife, a better mother and a better friendNathalie Joncas-Caissie, St-Antoine, NB

iRun for the challenge to go faster and farther Steven Matejka, Alberta

iRun because it helps me see things more clearly Jennifer Pitts, Ontario

iRun because it is my tonic and my salvation Georgia Ioannou, British Columbia

iRun because I like buying running clothes Pamela Blaikie, Ontario

iRun because itís a great way to see the world Sherry Mahoney, British Columbia

iRun because I am not as clumsy I thought I was Hanna Baer, Quebec

iRun to prove to them that iCan Catherine Smith, Manitoba

iRun and run, and run, and run, and nobody can stop me Andrei Lucaciu, Ontario

iRun for me! Judi Wearing, Saskatchewan

iRun because I can and I’m gratefulTerry SanCartier, Gatineau, QC

iRun because running is like breathing to Stephanie McEvoy, Ontario

iRun at 50 years old because at 43 I couldnít Peter Cicalo, Ontario

iRun for my heart, so it runs for me! Cathy Brzoza, British Columbia

iRun because I never thought I would be able toGary Morris, Winnipeg, MB

iRun for relaxation and to motivate my two sonsKeith Bradbury, Newfoundland

iRun for the challenge and to remember to fully live Pascale Synnott, Quťbec

iRun to correct years of sedentary living! Mike Scott, Ontario

iRun because I want to live to be 100! Colette DeJean, Ontario

iRun so that I can live longer and stronger Derek MacPhail, Ontario

iRun to stay ahead of the weight gainMyra Abstreiter, Alberta

iRun slowly!Jason Hoffman, Manitoba

iRun because endorphins are freeCassandra Chouinard, Ontario

iRun to prove to myself I canLesley McGougan, Brampton, ON

iRun therefore I amDuncan Walsh, Nottingham, UK

iRun because when I run I feel most aliveMeghan Lynch, Ottawa, ON

iRun because iLoves my man Beverly Huang, Alberta

iRun because it cleans up my life, because I drink more water, sleep better and eat healthier foodsRobin McIntyre, Ottawa, ON

iRun see where my feet will take me todayMegan Dolinskas, New York

iRun whenever I feel the need to escape Iona Hillis, Ontario

iRun but not enoughMichael Shaw, New Westminister, BC

iRun because somebody once told me I couldnít Heidi Abbey-Der, Saskatchewan

iRun because it makes me feel powerfulCarlene Paquette, Carp, ON

iRun because iEat Sherry Maligaspe, British Columbia

iRun because endorphins are free Cassandra Chouinard, Ontario

iRun because it makes me feel good, allows me to spend time with my friends and gives me a feeling of accomplishmentHelen Kolodziejzyk, Calgary, AB

iRun to eat more, especially sweet potatoe fries Joanna Skomra, Ontario

iRun because it's a great stress release Brooke McKenzie, Yukon

iRun because I learn more about who I am with every km Steph Mansell, Quebec

iRun because otherwise Iím grumpy Alexandre Charest, Quebec

iRun to eat Maureen Tritscher, Alberta

Cover photo from the current issue of iRun Magazine

Workout Wednesday

My Best Running Race

April 2012

Back to Table of Contents


65 is the new 40

Masters runners going longer, stronger than ever

Guile is an important virtue of long-distance running and it’s a characteristic best learned over kilometres and years. Sydney Moss is an 80-year-old distance runner based in Montreal and, after having a triple bypass, he was inspected by his cardiologist. The doctor's advice? Keep running for as long as you can.

"I'm 100% sure that being active and running prolongs life, it teaches you discipline," says Moss, a member of Montreal's world-famous Wolf Pack, a club started in the 1960s by Wolf Bronet, a Holocaust-survivor who takes his troops out into the Montreal cold as many as five times a week. "I know a lot of runners in their 70s and 80s, guys still running marathons. It's good to run when you're older, if you're going to be a sissy and worry about stuff, you'll never go out. It's better to grow old and run."

Older runners, in fact, are participating in races in droves. Canada Running Series, which hosts events in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, puts on eight events every year and its race director, Alan Brookes,
believes that runners 40-and-above (those designated as "masters") are helping drive his attendance records to all-time highs.

“People want to feel better and take care of themselves and things that used to be shocking -- like watching 80-year-old Ed Whitlock complete the marathon in just over three hours -- are becoming more commonplace,” says Brookes, adding that in 2005, 73 people over 65-years-old participated in a Canada Running Series event; last year, that number jumped to 316.

“What’s most striking is what we see with the women,” says Brookes, who has been in his position of race director for 20 years. “There were only 20 women over 65 running in 2005 – in 2011, there were 95.”

There are lots of reasons for the up-tick in the number of masters runners. For one thing, the categorization seems a bit dated. 40 hardly seems like a cut-off point worthy of special attention and most race directors, like Brookes, tend to use the age of 65 as a number more deserving of its own designation. With better equipment and smarter training, we’re more knowledgeable as a culture of our sport. Furthermore, thanks to running clinics and shorter race distances, the barrier to entry has been greatly reduced. Also, the country is ageing. And as more boomers retire with a financial cushion, that unleashes a whole new slew of 65-and-older enthusiastic weekend warriors with both free time and financial freedom – the perfect recipe for beginning a time-consuming, demanding sport.

“A sport like running is not restricted to competitive teams, so you don't get displaced from the team or feel obliged to ‘retire,’ " says Roger Robinson, 73, who holds dozens of masters records, including at the BMO Vancouver Marathon, where his 2:18:44 finish has held as the course masters record for 30 years. “Medical evidence is pouring in to show the benefits if older runners keep exercising, especially running -- even training and racing hard -- provided they adjust to the realities of age.”

However, Robinson is also a little chagrined that his record has held for so long. Indeed, despite the proliferation of masters runners, older athletes might be participating more in marathon races, but they aren’t necessarily setting record times. “Our incentive was just to run well, and it was a sport of very high standards,” says Robinson. “So I had to keep training hard if I wanted to win sometimes. It was like a gunfight at the OK Corral when we all raced in a championship.”

Today’s master runners might not all approach a race with the same gunfighter mentality that Robinson brought to each event. In Toronto last fall at the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon, much was made of the appearance of 100-year-old Fauja Singh. What was left out of most of those stories (and his accomplishment is nevertheless impressive –just living to 100, let alone traversing 42 kilometres is a feat), is that the marathon walker took 8 hours and 11 minutes to finish the race.

“According to our market research, for most of our masters running, it’s not about time,” says Charlene Krepiakevich, executive director of the BMO Vancouver Marathon. “They’re running to remain fit and to achieve a personal goal, but only 4% of the runners over 65 actually competed in the event to qualify for something – just participating seemed to fulfill a goal.”

Like Canada Running Series, the BMO Vancouver Marathon has seen a similar spike in the prevalence of masters runners. In 2010, the average man completing their marathon or half marathon was 36, while the average woman was 35. This year, the average age jumped to 42-years-old for male runners and 39 for the women. Masters runners are the majority. So perhaps it’s time for a new definition. At the BMO Vancouver Marathon, 11% of the runners were over 55.

“I bet if you ask someone who’s 40 if they saw themselves as a masters runner, I don’t think they would think that, it seems young,” Krepiakevich says. “Society as a whole is getting older and we’re seeing a lot more people who want to engage differently with the world as they age.”

Running is about a lot more than just taking off wildly as fast as you can. It requires cunning, determination, follow-through, attention to detail and a careful amount of self-preservation, training and smarts. Sydney Moss says that he has no plans to stop running and that his sentiment of defiance is reflected by the entire Wolf Pack running club. "When you're young you only want to go to the clubs and smoke and drink, I was a little bit wild, but then I got connected to the Wolf Pack and started to run," he says. "It takes discipline to be a runner, to be an athlete. And I think you learn those kind of lessons when you're old. I wouldn't call a 40-year-old a 'master's runner,' 40-years-old is a young guy."

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