(CNN) – Edwina Brocklesby, 78, is a person who, once you meet her, you do not forget her, and it is not because of her red hair or her colored nails.
Nicknamed the “IronGran”, Brocklesby is the oldest British woman to complete an Ironman: the world’s toughest triathlon challenge, consisting of 3.5 kilometers of swimming, 180 kilometers of cycling and a full 42.1 marathon. kilometres.
“I’ve done 10 Ironmans so far and I’ve finished six of them,” Edwina Brocklesby tells CNN Sport. “I would love to do another Ironman if it were possible.”
Ideally, he says, would be in Lanzarote, which has always been Brocklesby’s favorite place to train.
“The water is crystal clear (…) the bike routes just take you around all the beautiful parts of the island. The running is always fun. You pass the bars late at night and, you know, another lap of the race and … the disc jockey plays ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ every time I pass by, “he added.
Not that Brocklesby intends to stop. Far from it: You just signed up to compete in the 2023 Race Across America (RAAM).
The RAAM is one of the longest annual endurance events in the world, in which participants have nine days to cycle from the west coast to the east coast of the United States, that is, about 4,800 km.
As in 2013 and 2019, Brocklesby will be one of four “Golden Girls” from the Serpentine to race on a women’s relay team with an average age of 70.
“I’ll raise the average age of the team,” jokes Brocklesby. “My friend has pointed out, to my horror, that she would be 80 years old and would be the oldest woman that the RAAM has done.”
Surprisingly, Brocklesby didn’t play any sports until he was 50 years old. But he has always liked a challenge, he says, like running his first half marathon at age 52.
“I remember going up to see a friend who participated in the Nottingham marathon that went around the university that my husband and I had attended,” she remembers living in Northampton several years ago.
“I went back to my husband and said, ‘You know, I’d love to do a half marathon.’ And he said, ‘You couldn’t do five kilometers in Northampton!” And I think ‘Yes, I can!’ it was the challenge that got me going. “
After a few marathons, and a couple of injuries too, Brocklesby became more aware of the benefits of running; not only physical, but also social and spiritual.
In her book “Irongran: How Keeping Fit Taught Me That Getting Older Needn’t Mean Slowing,” Brocklesby recounts that her group of running friends helped her overcome her husband’s early death.
I had to learn to swim
When he reached 60, Brocklesby thought that learning to swim could also be therapeutic.
“In school I had swam a little bit, but never a full stretch of the pool. So I took a class and started swimming. And I actually did the full stretch for the first time,” he says.
However, swimming remains Brocklesby’s biggest challenge. Road cycling is his favorite discipline of the three that make up the triathlon.
Although, as he admits in his book, he had some trouble climbing steep hills at first.
“I remember the embarrassment of having to walk my new Giant bike up the last turn of the Box Hill switchback,” he wrote of the Surrey summit. “I was not used to road cycling and the steep climb was very difficult.”
Brocklesby’s pursuit of athletic development also inspired her to try to convince other people that age is just a number.
“It is such a privilege to know that you are capable, which is why I started Silverfit,” reveals Brocklesby.
Silverfit is a London charity that promotes healthier aging through physical activity and social connectivity. “People get together, sometimes have a snack and then do an activity,” explains Brocklesby.
Silverfit currently runs activities in 17 different locations in London, with 46 different classes, including Pilates, Nordic walking, foot soccer, Bollywood fitness and cheerleading.
“We started in Hyde Park and then quickly moved to Burgess Park,” says Brocklesby, referring to a couple of green spaces in London.
Brocklesby adds that he has always tried to launch new activities in areas of economic deprivation and diversity, “where you can really make a bigger difference for the local population.”
His participation in charitable programs has led him to win different awards, including the Pride of Sport Award and the British Empire Medal (BEM) for his services to the health and well-being of the elderly.
Rubbing shoulders with royalty
Two years ago, Brocklesby was invited to the National Council of Voluntary Organizations (NCVO) centennial celebrations, hosted by Queen Elizabeth II herself.
“I had no expectation of meeting the queen,” explains Brocklesby.
“We met in a great room in the historic Windsor Castle. There we were greeted with champagne and the most incredible appetizers. A line formed from that room to pass through an open archway to another great room.”
“It was only when I joined the line and slowly approached to be a few feet from the door that I realized that the queen was right on the other side, greeting each guest individually.”
“I passed by, and her assistant announced, ‘Dr. Brocklesby, Silverfit.’ ‘Lovely,’ she said as she shook my hand, and I bowed before her.”
The elbows with royalty aside, Brocklesby is now dedicated to sharing a more popular message.
“Enjoy aging. Encourage other people that it’s never too late to start being a little more active and having fun. I think it’s very important to make experiences fun.”