This 80-year-old Kelowna woman is running and winning marathons - InfoNews

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This 80-year-old Kelowna woman is running and winning marathons

80-year-old Liz Borratt, left, and Lynn Sparling outpaced other runners during their morning 10 km training run, Friday, May 31, 2019.
June 03, 2019 - 7:00 AM

KELOWNA - Now that she’s 80, the pressure is off Kelowna’s Liz Borrett to win her age group every time she runs a marathon.

Just last month, the Kelowna resident easily topped the over 80 women’s contingent at the Boston Marathon. She was the only woman over 80 in the race.

“When you get to the stage where there isn’t really a lot of competition, you look at things quite differently,” Borrett told “It takes a lot of pressure off. You run more to enjoy as you run. You’re not thinking in terms of winning.”

Two weeks after Boston, she ran the marathon in London, England, again finishing first in her age group, but that time beating two other women in the over-80 group.

If she hadn’t turned 80 in February, her time of 4 hours, 46 minutes and 24 seconds would have placed her second out of 17 women in the 75 to 80 age group – a group she usually won during her younger days.

That may not sound like a great accomplishment but there were almost 18,000 women in the London marathon. Borrett finished near the middle of the pack. That means she was faster than 8,795 younger women and ahead of thousands of men.

Borrett is actually an accidental runner who didn’t start until she was 63.

A former nurse, she was always physically active, playing sports like baseball, soccer and volleyball. She joined a friend in an Arthritis Society fundraising event that just happened to be a marathon in Hawaii.

“I think Hawaii was more attractive than the actual run,” she said, not realizing that people trained for such events.

Running and walking the 42 km distance with her friend took more than six hours – and they raised around $5,000. She went on, later that year, to run the Vancouver marathon in closer to four hours and she hasn’t looked back.

Still, it took her a few years to get into any formal training for her runs. A few years later, she was topping the field in the 70 to 75 year old classification in most marathons she entered. She’s run numerous races in the U.S. and takes it as an opportunity to visit new areas and make more, albeit, younger friends.

“Running is a very social sport for me,” Borrett said. “There is a real network of supportive friends you’re spending a fair bit of time with. At this time in my life, there are not a lot of people my age that are as active as I am so my network of friends are a lot younger. I find that’s very stimulating."

Liz Borrett is always smiling.
Liz Borrett is always smiling.

So, now that she’s running out of competitors her age, what’s her motivation?

“My primary goal was always to finish and that, apparently, is not a good attitude,” she laughed. “A lot of people, if they are not going to finish in the time they set out to do, they will quit running. To me, that isn’t your reason for doing what you’re doing. You aren’t just running to win.”

She knows people who didn’t figure they could do the times they wanted in Boston who gave up their $250 to $300 registration fee and didn’t bother going.

Her fastest race was Boston back in 2013 at 4:00:08.

Last winter, she slipped on ice and sustained her first running injury that kept her out for about six months.

Her first effort after her injury was the Chicago marathon where she walked the whole distance because she was coughing so much that she couldn’t run, but she didn't go all the way to Chicago to sit in a hotel room so she walked it in less than six hours.

“I’m a fast walker,” Borrett said, noting that she does walk for parts of all her marathons.

Her last two marathons were around the 4:45 mark.

For the immediate future, she’s signed up for three half-marathons and tells people she’s going to take it easier.

“I’m OK with running slower,” Borrett. “I think I’m running smarter.”

As for training, she's out at 6 a.m. two days a week for a 10 km run with friends from The Running Room. On Sundays they go for a longer run of 15 to 38 km.

On Friday, May 31, she was the first of the half dozen morning runners to cross Water Street downtown on their way to one of Borrett's favourite parts of her run - socializing over a morning coffee.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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