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Marathon celebration for 70th birthday

  • Betty Rose (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

There was only ever going to be one way for Betty Rose to celebrate her 70th birthday.

After notching up 69 marathons in less than 20 years, the veteran runner fittingly marked her big milestone by taking part in the Bermuda Marathon last Sunday.

Ms Rose, of Atlanta, Georgia, who turns 70 today, said the idea came about on a cold day in New Hampshire when a friend asked her how she wanted to mark the occasion.

She said: “I had always seen this one on the calendar, and had never done it before. I said I want to go to Bermuda and do the marathon.”

She added that she had completed five marathons in the past year to bring her total to 70.

Ms Rose, a flight attendant, said she ran her first 26.2-mile race, the Vermont City Marathon, when she was 52.

She didn’t tell anybody about her plans ahead of that run. Ms Rose explained: “I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to do it.”

She said crossing the finish line to complete that first marathon was an emotional experience. Ms Rose added: “When they put the medal around my neck I started crying, because I had done it.”

In the beginning, she said she would run one or two races a year. It wasn’t until she started running with a group of friends that her race frequency accelerated.

To date, Ms Rose has taken part in runs in dozens of US states, as well as Canada and Spain. She has also taken part in ultra marathons, races longer than 26.2 miles.

Ms Rose came third in her age category at the weekend with a time of 7:47:16. She said: “I was the last one to come in yesterday, but I don’t care. I finished.

“That’s the whole goal of starting a race.”

Ms Rose said she encouraged anyone thinking about lacing up their shoes to take part.

Age, she added, is just a number. Ms Rose explained: “You shouldn’t ever think you are too old for it.

“We have friends that are in their eighties that are still running. Age should not be a factor.”

She said the way running made her feel, both physically and mentally, was the best part of the pastime. Ms Rose added: “Even if I’m not feeling well, if I get out and run, I feel great afterwards.

“I find with my mind clear I can come up with all kinds of ideas and solve problems. If I can get out and at least do a mile or two, the day is much better.”

The weekend run was the first time Ms Rose had been to Bermuda. She described her most recent race as more scenic than many of the others she had run.

And she added: “And the people were wonderful. We met so many people and everybody was so pleasant and nice to us.”

She said the experience had left a lasting impression. Ms Rose said: “We were talking about coming back for my 75th birthday, but we might be back before then.”