#InspiringAchievHERs: Christine Pemberton

This is the last post in this series for this month. And trust me, I saved the best lady in my “inspiration list” for the last.

This lady I am going to talk to today for this blog post has completed four full marathon and ten half marathon in the past three years and she is just a li’l above 60. Christine has defied all the the rules which surround the number called age. And that is the exact reason why she has been an inspiration for me.

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I met Christine when she had not turned sixty. She appeared to be this chilled out avid book reader who is super happy with her life as it is. She is certainly! But li’l did I know that she has this huge bucket list which keeps her on her toes all the time. When most of us are wondering that probably its too late to start running or may be it will take so much time to train right, she decided to start running after her 60th spring and she is nailing it. Not just running, she has been trekking and hiking to the most difficult terrains that we can only imagine. And guess what? All that started after her 60th birthday.

Here is the conversation that I had with her! After reading this, I am sure you will have another reason to be her fan – her wits! 

Questions: Having achieved all of that, how safely can you say that age is just a number?

Christine: By and large I think that yes, age is just a number. Truly I do. I never, ever feel my age. It’s only when I look at race photos, that I wince as I realize that I’m running alongside sleek, fleet-footed youngsters like you

Question: When did you decide to start running?

Christine: When I turned 60. All part of my bucket list, which included climbing a mountain, being in a Bollywood movie, being on the BBC. These are all ticked off. Still LOADS of ticks to go!
Question: What was the motivating factor for you?

Christine: Quite simply, I had never, ever run before. I had walked and hiked and trekked, and climbed (I summit-ed my first technical peak 3 weeks before I turned 60) but I had never run and having had arthroscopy twice on both me overly.

Question: Was there any log kya kahengey moment for you?

Christine: Plenty. I started running for fun & quickly got hooked. I decided to ignore my age and wrinkles, and the lovely girls in my first, all-female running group treated me as one of them. It was when other people (all non-runners & always people who are supposed to like me, if you take my meaning) would say things like “At your age…” and “Do you think it’s really appropriate…” and the horrid “you really are making a spectacle of yourself” – it was at moments like that, that I’d falter and think “Am I really making a spectacle of myself?…Am I really an old fool?” But since not one runner ever, ever, ever said anything mean or nasty – on the contrary, every runner I have met in the last 4 years has been hugely welcoming, I decided to ignore all the mean-spirited comments and run.

Question: When I look at you, to me it seems that you are meant to be a runner. It just comes naturally to you. What all goes in making your journey look effortless?

Christine: I am a shockingly bad and ill-trained runner. I hardly stretch, I find going to the gym beyond boring. All I want to do is run. So that’s what I do. There are times when I tell myself that if I worked a little harder at stretching and yoga and suchlike, I could possibly be a little better.


Question: I was completely amused by one incident of yours where you bummed those teenagers who tried to harass you. That incident surely has a strong message for everyone. What message do you have for the young girls out there?

Christine: Sadly, and I hate to sound negative, but Delhi is the pits in terms of being able to go out and feel safe alone as a woman. So, reluctantly, my first piece of advice is not to run alone, if you can avoid it, and NEVER at night. Secondly, never, ever let the men who hassle you get away with it. Scream, shout, take a photo of them. Never show that you are cowed. For months after I was groped when I was out running (at 62 years of age, for goodness sake) I carried a pepper spray. I’ve got a bit lax, to be honest and should start carrying it again.


Question: Message for aspiring runners?

Christine: Run. Just do it. Get out there and run, however slowly. Enjoy it. Ignore the nay-sayers. I have yet to meet a nasty runner. Truly. Running is good for the soul, for the body, for the heart, and if that involves early nights and being labelled boring/anti-social/dull/obsessed (oh yes!) then so be it. The joy of running as the sun rises, of trail running through a forest, the thrill of crossing a finish line – those are the moments that make life worth living.

Now, that is some iron woman! And the best part is – I take inspiration from her not only on the running track but also in the li’l episodes of life where I feel really demotivated! I am sure she must have inspired you as well.
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