​You're never too old for the SPAR Women's Race

12 September 2018

Deirdre Larkin took up running at the ripe old age of 78 and now holds the world record for the half marathon in her age group. 

Television show Carte Blanche took her to Geneva to compete and she rewarded them with the world record of two hours and four minutes.  Deirdre, a concert pianist with a Wigmore Hall recital to her credit, says she was not at all sporty when she was younger.

“I was at boarding school in England, and they played netball and lacrosse, which didn’t interest me at all,” she says.

“In my 70s, I started to develop osteoporosis and was put on medication, which made me very ill. I put up with it for three miserable years, and then decided to try the exercise route instead.

“I started off very slowly, running a few paces and then walking a few. I did my first race about four months later, and after that I was hooked.”

Larkin, now 87 years old, says she runs at least one race most weekends.

“Because I live in Johannesburg, I have the option of running in Pretoria on Saturday and in Johannesburg on Sunday. I really love it. You meet such lovely, interesting people.”

She says she now takes no medication and her osteoporosis has stabilised.

“There is no cure for osteoporosis, but I have not got any worse since I started running. I joined the Fitness League about 11 years ago. They work on the principle of an hour’s exercise every day. They work on all parts of the body, not just your muscles and your core. I do half an hour’s exercise every day, followed by an hour’s running five days a week.”

She says she particularly enjoys running in the SPAR Women’s Challenge races. 

“They are always so very well organised, and they really take care of you,” says Larkin.

“They seem to know what you want and they pamper you. It is also fun to run in an all-women event.”

So keep an eye open for Deirdre Larkin, world record holder, at the SPAR Women’s Joburg Challenge on Sunday October 7.