He has been called the Ancient Marathon Runner, and has inspired people of all ages. Canadian marathon runner Ed Whitlock, is 82-years-old and can run faster than many 20-year-olds.
He has set numerous world records in both outdoor and indoor track, road running, and marathon running. In fact, he holds most of the world’s records in the specialized field of seniors’ long distance running. His ability and stamina has challenged many of our views on aging, and has broken down many of the false limitations we put on getting older.
Ed Whitlock was born March 6, 1931 in the suburbs of England and it was there in his late teens where he took up running competitively. When he came to Canada in his early 20s to pursue an engineering career, he stopped running, only to later pick it up in his 40s, with the prompting of his wife. Since taking up running in his 40s, Ed has been unstoppable!
As Whitlock has aged, he has faced a few setbacks, but faced them in stride. He was told that his running days were over in 2008 after suffering painful knee arthritis. However, Ed’s response to this was, “You don’t necessarily have to take the expert’s verdict.” He says he took some rest, and then started back up again.
What’s His Secret?
Some have asked and wondered, what is his secret? Surprisingly Whitlock doesn’t stretch or do Yoga, nor does he pay much attention to his diet. He generally runs solo, cuts the heels off his running shoes, and aims to run for three hours a day when training for a race. However, there are five rules Whitlock lives by when it comes to running. His rules are as follows: Personalize your training, take each run in stride, run alone, don’t over think stuff, and lastly enjoy your finish lines!
World Running Records
Whitlock holds many world records, especially in the masters running category. One of his greatest achievements was when Whitlock was 69, and became the oldest person to run a marathon in less than three hours with the time of 2:52:27. He has continued to extend his world records as he ages, and set the world record for the 75-79 age group in 2006 when he ran a time of 3:08:35 at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon. He actually lowered this record in April 2007 at the Rotterdam Marathon with a running time of 3:04:54.
Whitlock continued to break his own records in marathon running, and at the age of 81, Whitlock broke the Canadian world half-marathon record at a hometown race in the Milton Half-Marathon, with a running time of 1:38:59. On top of all his marathon records, Whitlock also holds several world age group records in track. These records range in distance from 1500m to 10,000m and from the age groups 65+. 70+ and 80+.
Whitlock has set many world running records and continues to do so, as his most recent record was this past October 2013.
On Sunday October 21, 2013, Whitlock ran the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 3:41:58, which is almost 7 minutes faster than the previous record for an 82-year old which was set by Ed Benham, in 1989. To make this world record even more impressive was that Whitlock was suffering the effects of a cold.
Whitlock had caught the bug, two weeks prior to the race, but it had been quite a slow recovery for him. Whitlock said to Runners World Newswire, that he didn’t feel the cold too much during the race, “but I suppose it had some effect, and I hope it was a good excuse.”
At the Toronto Waterfront Marathon last year, Whitlock set the age-81 world best of 3:30:28. His goal was to run a similar race this year, however due to him suffering the after effects of a cold, he was very uncertain, and had his doubts before and during the early part of the race.
In talking about the events of the race to Runners World Newswire, Whitlock said, “I felt OK as the race got under way and I was running a little less than 5 minutes per kilometre until halfway, so I kept going but I was beginning to realize that holding on was going to be difficult.”
During the latter part of the race, Whitlock said that, “The wheels started to fall off just after 25K, but not seriously until about 32K, when things became ridiculous and I was just surviving.” Despite suffering from a cold, Whitlock ran an amazing race, and astounded the world with his stamina and speed.
Whitlock is hoping that he recovers from this race in time to run two November races in the United States. We will be keeping watch of him, and we won’t be surprised if Whitlock sets a few more world records!