Running the Marathon of Life

At 77, Anne Boyd has three more World Marathon Majors (WMM) on her list.

SYDNEY MARATHON BY | UPDATED 2 MONTHS AGO

They say age should never be a limiting factor and Anne Boyd is a living testament to that in the world of endurance running.

Coming on 78, the three-time World Marathon Majors (WMM) finisher has completed more marathons than most seasoned distance runners. The Sydney-sider has also run the Sydney Marathon thrice.

Anne with her partner David Iverach in the 2022 Sydney Marathon.

Bucket list: six WMMs before 80

Anne entered her very first half marathon in April 2014, at a ripe young age of 68. Today, her running portfolio includes 16 marathon finishes, including three of six WMM (New York, Boston, and London). And in spite of the COVID-19 curve ball, she’s set on completing all six races before turning 80.

Anne’s impressive running portfolio includes 16 marathon finishes, including three of six WMM (New York, Boston, and London). And in spite of the COVID-19 curve ball, she’s set on completing all six races before turning 80.

In fact, Anne already has the Tokyo and Chicago Marathon booked in her 2024 race calendar. And she’s aiming to complete her six WMM bucket list with the Berlin Marathon in 2025.

We had a chance to chat with Anne to find out more about her inspiring marathon journey:

RUN SG: Anne, you are a massive inspiration to all of us, and we’re curious: what sparked the unusual foray into the world of endurance running in your 60s?

Anne: In three words: unwanted weight gain. After experiencing steady weight gain during and after menopause, I found myself struggling with obesity despite maintaining an active lifestyle.

Weight loss: Anne's starting point

Traditional diets weren't effective until I stumbled upon a weight management program sponsored by the Seventh Day Adventist organisation at a local medical centre.

It focused on the concept of 'more is less', emphasising wholesome foods. With guidance from a team of professionals – a GP, dietitian, psychologist, and exercise physiologist – I lost significant weight over several months, but hit a plateau. It was then that my exercise physiologist suggested incorporating jogging into my routine, which I was initially resistant to.

Anne with her coach, Gary 'Tiger’ Howard of Run Crew after 2020 NSW State cross country championships.

Inspired by her daughter, a born runner

Despite being an avid walker and swimmer, I never saw myself as a runner. However, encouraged by my daughter's athletic endeavours, I reluctantly tried incorporating jogging into my walks. Gradually, with perseverance, I found myself enjoying it more and more, eventually jogging the full distance.

My daughter Helen-Louise, now 40, was a born runner and I’ve spent a lot of time supporting her, attending training sessions and competitions from her earliest years. She qualified for the State 60m sprint at age 7 (1990) and has continued to run ever since, transitioning from track sprinting to long distance road running events.

Accompanying my daughter to her running events exposed me to seniors participating in races, which sparked my curiosity. With my daughter's encouragement and support, I entered my first 5K race.

While I was initially frustrated by her insistence on not letting me walk during the race, I was thrilled to podium in my age group. From then on, I was hooked.

RUN SG: Running the WMM at this age is an achievement in itself. What has been the biggest challenge or adaptation to training?  

Anne: My life is pretty much consumed with activities which support my running addiction.  Unfortunately, my enthusiasm led to an injury due to insufficient fitness in my ‘early’ days. This setback led me to an excellent physiotherapist – Martin Doyle (who was also the same person who proposed the ambitious goal of running a marathon to me) – who guided me on my road to recovery.

An avid swimmer

I now make the effort to do regular strength training. I’m also enrolled with Keiser Physiotherapy and on a regular home program involving elements of yoga and Pilates to ensure that my body is well conditioned to handle the demands of distance running.

Anne had just joined her first running club the Sydney Striders when her physiotherapist Martin Doyle challenged her to run a marathon.

Aside from just running, I include cross-training in my routine. Swimming is my favourite recovery activity. Recently, my partner and I have also taken up aquathlons which usually involve a kilometre of open water swimming, followed by a quick transition to a 5km run. That’s loads of fun, and we usually place sufficiently high in our age category (75 – 79) to have national representation in our sights.

I’d never expected to wear our national colours, green and gold, in any sporting activity, let alone in my late 70s!

RUN SG: 2024 will be the fourth time running the Sydney Marathon. What does it potentially being a WMM mean to you?

Anne: It will be wonderful to have Sydney as a WMM in that it will attract an internationally competitive field to my home city. The course takes in some of the most beautiful areas of our Harbourside, including running across the majestic Sydney Harbour Bridge and finishing on the steps of the iconic Sydney Opera House.

Sydney Marathon: A special race for Anne

As a musician and composer, the Opera House has special memories and associations for me. Ending at the race there makes this Marathon finish even more special! (Anne is a retired Emeritus Professor of Music, musician, and a fairly well-known composer of art music!)

I am also thrilled to receive an invitation to join the WANDA Age Group championships in the Sydney Marathon this year, with my timing on last year’s Gold Coast Marathon meeting the qualification standard.

In truth, I was very surprised as that same timing doesn't meet the Boston Marathon’s qualifying time. Because of its proximity to the Chicago Marathon, I conventionally use the Sydney Marathon as my last long training run. Given that this is a special opportunity to gain a world ranking, I'll definitely give the Sydney Marathon my best shot this time around!

Running till she's 100

Anne is a strong advocate of the Run-Walk method (similar to Jeff Galloway's Run-Walk-Run approach), which has helped her achieve better race times and excellent recovery.

Describing herself as a Run-Walker, Anne has found a supportive community in the running world, particularly in marathons. Her running goals, she says, are simple: to embrace the fun, friendship, and fitness that comes with the sport. She also hopes to continue running with her partner for as long as possible.

In fact, Anne says, “It would be wonderful to run marathons in my 80’s and 90’s and possibly even at 100, if I live that long.”

Anne Boyd certainly inspires us with her ‘ageing mantra’ of setting new goals, being open to trying new things and most importantly never giving up! 

About Sydney Marathon 2024

Look forward a new, improved marathon course featuring longer, flatter sections of wider roads which will encompass more of Sydney at the 2024 Sydney Marathon!

More than 1800 of the world's best age group marathoners like Anne Boyd will be racing for the title of Age Group Champion in the 2024 Wanda Abbott WMM World Age Group Championships.

When: 15 September 2024
Registration is now open. For more information, click here.

This feature is brought to you by Sydney Marathon.



SYDNEY MARATHON

The only running event in Australia broadcast live each year, the Sydney Marathon, presented by ASICS, boasts over 40,000 participants from over 66 countries and has raised over $23 million for charitable organisations since its inception. The sole remaining participant legacy of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, the Sydney Marathon is owned by Athletics Australia and managed by Pont3.

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