By Alice Young
A 78-year-old woman from Rawdon is now just one marathon short of completing her challenge of running 100 marathons before her 80th birthday.
Hilary Wharam, who runs with the Horsforth Harriers, ran her 99th marathon this November – she said she asked for special permission to start the race early so as not to keep the race marshals out too long.
Mrs Wharam only started running in her fifties – she ran her first marathon in London in 1997.
She said: “I had been with Horsforth Harriers for four years – everybody was doing marathons and I wanted to do one.
“I ran my first marathon in four hours and four minutes; I didn’t realise quite how good a time it was.
“The fastest man in the club – who was normally always very busy with his fast mates – walked over and shook my hand.”
Hilary said she was never bothered about running 100 marathons until someone told her that nothing is impossible.
She added: “I picked up the bone, didn’t I!”
Hilary’s love for running has rocketed since her first marathon.
She said: “I love the freedom and the company from the club – on every course that I run now, there will be somebody that knows me.
“I went to Hull, and the crowd were shouting for me.”
Hilary leads the Absolute Beginners Running Group at Horsforth Harriers every Tuesday and regularly runs at local parkrun events across Leeds.
Jamie Stewart leads the group with Hilary and said that she is an inspirational lady and a much-loved character at Horsforth Harriers.
She said: “Hilary is one of the most positive people I have ever met, and she has always inspired me to dig deep and keep going even when I have felt like giving up.
“She is an icon of the Yorkshire running community – Hilary is proof that age is not a barrier to staying fit and keeping active.”
Hilary suffers from arthritis and takes medication before she runs – she said that what helps her the most is remembering that running is a mental game.
She said: “Without the head, you’ll get nowhere – you can be as fit as you like, but you’ve got to manage everything in your head.
According to marastats, only 0.2% of marathon runners across the world are females over the age of 70.
Hilary encouraged anyone who would like to start running to join a local group.
She said: “Put your mind to it and you can do anything at all!”
Horsforth Harriers is an all-ability running group which meets every Tuesday from 7pm at Leeds Trinity University.