Woman, 80, shares memories of running first ever London Marathon
- Credit: Archant
Almost four decades after its inception, the London Marathon has become so ingrained in British culture that its cancellation seems almost unthinkable.
But as the coronavirus crisis wreaks havoc with the world’s sporting calendar, tens of thousands of runners were left distraught when this year’s event was postponed until October.
However, in a bid to raise spirits on marathon weekend, Wymondham runner Eva Osborne has shared her experience of being one of only 6,000 people to run in the capital’s first ever marathon back in 1981.
In fact, with women barred from taking part in sanctioned races until a few years prior, Mrs Osborne was one of only 203 women to take on the 26.2 miles.
The 80-year-old only started running in 1978 following the formation of Wymondham Athletic Club (WAC), and had been jogging distances of no more than three miles on an entirely social basis.
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But when the chance to run in the capital’s first ever marathon came around, it was too good to miss.
“The day itself was really overwhelming,” said Mrs Osborne. “It was different to marathons today simply because, apart from the elite runners, nobody had run a marathon before.
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“The camaraderie was exceptional. Everybody helped everybody, people were pulling each other along.
“The support from the crowd was great as well. Because there were so few women, the crowd picked them out and shouted even louder to motivate them.
“My training was probably a bit rudimentary and I was running in plimsolls and a cotton shirt at that time. We had no knowledge about carb-loading or anything like that but, ultimately, we made it.”
Fast forward 39 years and Mrs Osborne has completed a total of 16 marathons, including in London six times, the New York Marathon and, closer to home, the Bungay Marathon.
Despite her age, WAC’s longest serving member is still running and believes the older generation should endeavour to follow suit.
“It is important to keep going if you can,” she added. “I’m slower than I used to be, but it is a positive thing to do.
“I turned 80 a couple of weeks ago, but I still enjoy running, the camaraderie and the social side. It is 40 years since I started and it’s a part of my life.”