A couple of days ago, I had a bit of meltdown here about my upcoming half marathon, panicking about being underprepared and fearing I’m about to make a complete fool of myself next week.
I am STILL under-prepared, and STILL under-trained and STILL fearful BUT…
…I have been jolted out of my navel-gazing, by a woman 20 years my senior, a 90-year old American, who has just set the American record in the HM for women in the 90-94 age group.
Here you go – meet the super inspirational Dot Sowerby 🙂 🙂
Doesn’t she sound great?
After reading about this amazing lady and her get-up-and-go attitude, I’m sure she didn’t faff around the way I’m doing, moaning about not having trained enough.
The article makes for such interesting reading, and also highlights the unf**kingbelievable sexism that used to exist.
The sexism that put paid to so many women’s hopes and dreams and careers. I won’t go off on a tangent here, but having lived through similar sexism myself (though mine was not related to running, but jobs…) I am in awe of this gutsy lady.
Though Sowerby played basketball and tennis in high school and college, women’s running wasn’t yet accepted at Hollins University where she attended.
“I wasn’t aware that this [running] was wrong, because it’s what everyone thought,” she says. “It didn’t seem unusual to me at the time.”
Sowerby began seriously running later in life in her late forties. “When I first started running again, I would take the side streets so people wouldn’t see me,” she says. “Because I thought people would think a woman at my age running was odd.”
The running space, it seems, wasn’t prepared for the speedy rocket Sowerby was. When she signed up for her first race at the age of 50, she noticed that’s where the age ranges ended.
“I told the race organizers, ‘Next year, I’ll be older and you won’t even have my age group!’” She says. “And they said they never thought anyone ran after the age of 50. Since then, I’ve always been pushing the age category more and more.”
Amazingly JUST THIS YEAR, there was a race where the age category stopped at 70.
“But when Sowerby signed up, the race age groups ended at 70. After a few emails back and forth with the race organizers, a new age group 90-98 was established.“
Clearly, the race organisers reacted positively but what the actual heck!!
I was writing this post, I suddenly thought, “Hey, why don’t I check the age categories in the few races that I run in India?”
And you know what??
They also seem to stop at 70 and sometimes below…yikes!
Tata Mumbai Marathon’s oldest category is “70 years and above.”
The (upcoming) Vedanta Delhi HM – ditto.
And, shockingly, in the Apollo Tyres Marathon in February 2024 their oldest age category is 55+. Crikey – that’s crazy, for someone of my age.
That’s an actual disincentive to older folk like me.
But back to the star of this blog, our 90-year-young athlete 🙂
Ms Sowerby is clearly a force to be reckoned with, training diligently and doing some form of exercise every day.
“I do something every single day, whether it’s walking, running or swimming.”
And it is noteworthy that, as the article point out, “she always has a goal, something to train for.”
Such a fab story and I for one am rooting for this amazing gal…and I shall also give myself a metaphorical kick up the arse and stop fretting about my own race
And…clearly I’m gonna have to take a leaf out of the irrepressible Dot Sowerby’s book, and start agitating for we older runners here in India.