Trying to arrange a phone interview with Liz Borrett isn’t easy, because the 80-year-old from Kelowna, BC who won her age group at this year’s Boston and London Marathons, never seems to slow down. After racing London, she toured around England for a few days, arriving back in Kelowna just in time for a Mother’s Day celebration with one of her sons. The next day she had a 10K run scheduled with her club, the Kelowna Running Club. (She also runs with her local Running Room and volunteers regularly with her local Parkun). A few days later we finally connected, right after her spin class.
Borrett is one of those people who had always been very active, playing baseball and badminton and working out, but who didn’t actually take up running until she was in her early 60s and retired from her nursing career. Her husband had passed away, and her first marathon was something she did to help a friend fundraise. She also wanted the trip to Hawaii (where the race was), but she didn’t train, because she didn’t realize that people trained for the marathon. Rather than turning her off, it motivated her to start training, and since then she has run “about 25” marathons. She credits the group experience for keeping her engaged. “Your support system offers the opportunities you wouldn’t even know were available if it weren’t for them,” she says.
We asked her if anything was different since turning 80 in February. She admits it takes her a bit longer to recover from long races than in the past (while asserting that she generally recovers much faster than most people), and she’s very much in tune with how she’s feeling, not taking on more races than she feels she can handle. “My common sense is probably kicking in a bit, too… ” she says. A year ago, Borrett slipped on the ice and broke a bone in her foot (the first injury to prevent her from running) and since recovering from that, says she is now running “smarter.”
But “smart” is relative: so far this year Borrett has done the Disney’s Dopey Challenge (78.3k over four days), the Boston Marathon and the London Marathon (winning her age category at both). This is in addition to all the small weekly 5K and 10K local races she does as part of her regular routine when she’s at home.