Edwina Brocklesby is the director of Silverfit, a charity that promotes physical activity among ageing people. She is also the UK’s oldest Ironman triathlete. She was recently awarded the British Empire Medal
> She did not exercise until she was 50.
> Ran her first marathon in 1996, when she was 53.
> Started swimming at 56.
> Completed her first London Triathlon when she was 58.
“My husband died when I was 52. By then I had a small group of running friends and they were brilliantly supportive. I trained as a counsellor myself, but I found running better than counselling for dealing with grief. For one, you always feel better after you’ve been for a run as the endorphins kick in. But I think what is more important is the social element. You’re with people who support you and value you. You can talk if you want to, or you can be silent if you want to.
The running club was only small, but it did have one place in the London Marathon – and that’s when it became more serious for me. I ran my first marathon in 1996, when I was 53. I moved to London and became a member of the Serpentine Running Club and, with them, I completed my first London Triathlon when I was 58. I don’t have an anterior cruciate ligament in either knee – my daughter told me that I’d need surgery if I kept pounding the streets like I used to – and that’s how I got into cycling and swimming as they’re a little easier on the joints. When I started swimming, at 56, I couldn’t do crawl at all and swam breaststroke with my head above water like most women of my age. But swimming is a wonderful feeling. It might have something to do with our spending the first nine months of our gestation suspended in water.
I’m getting slower as I get older, of course I am. I do manage to run 5k, but I walk a bit more. I feel lucky that I can still jog along the Thames.”