Like a reformed criminal tempted back for one more big score, Lancashire runner Anne Harwood will be running her first marathon since 2010 when she takes on the London Marathon course in October. She’ll be 77. “I’m getting my mojo back!!” she says, 11 years after making the local news for travelling to China for her last 26.2: ‘Clitheroe pensioner to run Great Wall Marathon after recovering from cancer” was the headline in The Lancashire Telegraph at the time. Harwood had undergone a 10 hour operation to remove a part of her liver just months earlier and ran the race to raise money for the surgeon’s fund.


This time the motivation is to raise money for Parkinson’s UK. Harwood’s late husband, Keith, who was an accountant and former professional cricketer, had been living with Parkinson’s disease since 2000. Complications following heart surgery left him in a vegetative state and he died two and a half years later.


Harwood hopes to raise awareness of the need for hospitals to understand how to manage Parkinson’s when dealing with sufferers for any other medical reason. “I’ve been in a hole for quite a few years, but I’ve come out the other end now”, she says. ! I thought this race was another way of getting some closure for the family”.


She may well be setting some sort of record for the gap between first and second appearances in this magazine. She was featured in Runners World in 1995, after writing to tell us about her experiences running her first marathon, but there have been plenty of races in between.  She joined Blackburn Road Runners – “my second family and, certainly, the backbone of my running improvement and genuine love for running” – and went on to complete 20 marathons, including three Manchester’s, two Snowdonia’s and two in New York.


....around the turn of the millennium, was Harwood’s sporting peak. In 2000, she was encouraged to have a go at a triathlon. “I could run and I could swim, but I hadn’t been on a bike since I was a little girl. I her first attempt at Windsor, having been sneered at by another competitor because of her “chunky steed”, she finished third in the 55 – 59 age group and was immediately invited to represent Great Britain at the World Triathlonships in Edmonton, Canada.


Now, after a long period of sadness, Harwood credits Lockdown with getting her running again. “This last year gave you time to think about a lot of things. I just started running around the block and after a while lost two stone.


As she says, age is a state of mind. I don’t think there are any boundaries to what anybody can do. You might think the sands of time are passing, but I really do believe you can slow them down tremendously. If you can keep fit, the sky’s the limit”.


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