Angela's extraordinary 65th birthday challenge
Angela Oldham from Hyde, Greater Manchester, is celebrating her 65th birthday this year by running the same marathon every day for 10 days around England’s longest lake, Windermere. And she’s half way through her other goal which is to have run 65 different 5K Parkruns by the end of the year.
What is all the more remarkable is that Angela only took up running 10 years ago when, at the end of a sponsored swim, the lifeguard bet her she couldn’t run 10k.
Married and with two children Mrs Oldham has lived on a farm almost all her life and for many years delivered milk, a job she helped her dad with on her way to school. She’s also worked in a busy tea room and, now retired, Angela loves looking after her grandson.
Angela’s immense physical and mental Groundhog Day challenge starts on Friday 12 May when she will join five other women and 10 men from around the UK for this year’s event. They have all pledged to raise money to support our work with disadvantaged youngsters in the North of England. Mrs Oldham target is £3,000.
Our ‘10in10’, described as the UK’s ultimate endurance running event for non-athletes, is 10 breath-taking laps around the beautiful and hilly edges of Windermere through honey-pot villages. It starts and ends at our head office and residential centre near Ambleside. Only 94 people have completed it since it began 11 years ago, raising over £1million for our work.
By coincidence it was devised by another latecomer to running, academic and Brathay Fellow Sir Christopher Ball. He was 72 when he ran the first 10in10; five years after he took up the sport. Sir Christopher wanted to show that anyone can be a marathon runner and that the human body can do more than people expect. A point which Angela and other 10in10ers, who describe themselves as ordinary, intend to prove this May.
As Angela Oldham explained
“By my mid 50s I had never run and was not at all interested in running. That was until, having swum 200 lengths of the pool, the lifeguard bet me I couldn’t run 10K. This was a red rag to a bull. I bought a pair of trainers and began alternating walking and running between lamp posts. Thirteen months later, aged 56-years-old, I was on the start line of the 2009 Great Manchester 10k Run with thousands of others. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was the first female over 55 back, in a respectable 43 minutes.
“I then joined East Cheshire Harriers and my running experience now includes Parkruns, the Great North Run and the 56 mile, 24hr, ‘Bullock Smithy Hike’. Self-navigating, mostly off road, accompanied, usually, by foul weather and in the dark, I finished my fourth one last year in my fastest time yet - 13hrs 22mins – making me joint 2nd lady.
“Every Sunday I run on the local Peak District hills with friends Des and Clive - looking for trig points. There are 99 and we have so far ticked off 56. We run through mud, snow and ice, we see mist in the valleys, the sun coming up and the rain pouring down. It's a great way to spend two or three hours” she added.
In terms of why Angela put herself forward for the 10in10 she said:
“I was inspired after speaking to past runners and watching legendary fell runner and Lake District sheep farmer Joss Naylor, race patron, greet them at the finish line. It made me feel very emotional watching ordinary people do something extraordinary. I thought I have got to have a go at this and raise some money for Brathay Trust.
“I hope to stay injury free, raise the money and finish on Day 10 - ahead of friends who will be running the one day marathon, our lap of honour which is also the ASICS Windermere Marathon.
“People say that because I came late to running I suffer less with all the usual aches, pains and niggles but perhaps not after this.”
In charge of the event is Brathay’s Head of Operations, Aly Knowles. She is only too familiar with the monumental challenge facing Angela having completed two herself.
Aly Knowles said: “Training for one marathon is tough enough, but training for 10 that are not only back to back, but the same one every day is very hard. And on top of that there is the fundraising. We can’t thank our fabulous runners, their families, friends and supporters enough. We also hope that their ‘ordinariness’ inspires others”.