Story published 11 June 2021. Written by Paula Watson.
When I bumped into Sandra on a Friday morning run in February, I was made up! I met Sandra at Princes parkrun a couple of years ago and I’d already added her to my mental list of inspirational people. No computer to check her parkrun times, no car to get to parkrun, but Sandra has never let this stop her. She’d be there week on week, running, walking, jogging – making sure she crossed that finish line.
For some reason Sandra seems to think she’s quite unremarkable. She thinks she’s slow and old in fact and tells me how fast I am. Of course, I’ve got 30 years on Sandra, so if we’re talking age-graded percentages Sandra is faster than me! (I had to print this out as evidence before Sandra would believe me…).
Tai Chi, bell ringing, and running medals
At 73, Sandra is as sprightly as they come. Referring to herself as “The Vintage Runner”, she didn’t start running until she was 60 – when the training day for her local church running group changed so she was able to attend. Thirteen years later, Sandra now leads the running group at All Saint’s Church in Childwall, has 46 running medals and has continued running and walking daily during lockdown. Regularly meeting friends to walk with her, I could feel Sandra is a pillar of the local community.
Following the sad passing of her husband John 4 years ago, Sandra has continued to embrace life and make the most of every day. A typical pre-lockdown week for Sandra? Monday would be Tai Chi and line-dancing, Tuesday swimming, Wednesday gardening and run club twice a week. Not to mention bell ringing and choir. In case Sandra still isn’t worn out, she then goes out as a street pastor handing out flip flops and water to weary clubbers in Liverpool town centre!
And what is Sandra looking forward to most after lockdown? Going on her granddaughter’s trampoline of course.
That running "oomph"
Although running is something Sandra took up later in life, she has always been active. Neither she nor her sister have ever driven, so they walk everywhere. When she goes shopping she carries it herself, sometimes doing multiple trips for extra activity. She used to hike with her late husband John, who was her staunch supporter and would always be on the sidelines of running races to cheer her on.
When I asked Sandra what keeps her motivated, she said running just gives her that “oomph”. It helps her feel better on down days and gives her a sense of achievement. She feels it is especially important to keep moving at her age before she reaches a time she can’t.
You're never too old
I loved chatting with Sandra. She is inspirational not only in her passion for movement, but in her community spirit and everything she does to help others. Sandra’s Christian faith is important to her, and she believes God gives her the strength to be able to do all she does. As she literally skipped through the park alongside me (when demonstrating the running she did in her living room), Sandra is visible proof it is possible to stay active into your 70s.
What tips would Sandra have for others her age?
“Just do it! It always makes you feel so good, so do something every day – you’re never too old”
Sandra shows me it is possible to keep living life to the full, even when things are thrown at you and you can’t live as you’re used to.
If I have half the energy Sandra does when I’m 73, I’ll be very happy.