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Whangārei septuagenarian wins three North Island age group running titles

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Hātea Harriers runner Judith Bradshaw in action. Photo / Supplied

Accomplished Whangārei runner Judith Bradshaw says she gets a few raised eyebrows when she tells people her age.

The 71-year-old is only two half marathons away from having completed 200 since she first bolted across the start line at her first one in Whangārei in 1989.

And Bradshaw, who recently claimed three titles in her age group at various competitions in the North Island, is considering notching up 50 full marathons.

“But that’s another 16 I’ll need to do,” she said.

Bradshaw was 38 years old when she first joined the Hātea Harriers, a friendly running club in Whangārei.

Before then she’d done a bit of running in school but was more of a competitive swimmer.

“I wanted a change from swimming all the time and my son was 4 years old so it was something that he could do as well.”

So when a friend suggested she join harriers, she thought why not and thus entered the world of competitive running where she has made herself familiar with podium finishes.

Bradshaw’s most recent successes include taking out the 2022 New Zealand Masters Marathon Championship 70-74 age group title, completing the 42km course in Rotorua ahead of 13 others with a time of 4h 37m.

A month later she repeated the feat at the Cambridge Half Marathon, knocking out the 21km course in 2h 2m. Then it was on to the 2022 Auckland Marathon where her 4h 22m finish meant she again won her age group.

“You feel relief and happiness when you cross the finish line of a marathon. The last 6km is really hard,” Bradshaw said.

“But you just try and think about your form, your shoulders and how you’re using your arms and how you’re landing.”

Plus trying to catch up to the next person, Bradshaw added.

The best she has ever done was 3h 31m in the 1999 Auckland Marathon, and 1h 31m for a half marathon.

The first 17 years of her amateur running career existed side by side with triathlons.

A standout moment for Bradshaw was when her 55-year-old self claimed third place for her age group in the 2007 Taupō Ironman.

“But I stopped as I didn’t enjoy cycling all that much,” she said. “Just the swimming and running.”

Bradshaw’s advice for anyone thinking age is a barrier but keen to follow in her footsteps was to start out with a mix of walking and jogging.

“Then from there slowly add in bits of running each time.”

Plus get decent shoes, she said.

Bradshaw clocks up to roughly 50km a week spread across four training runs – 5km of that is at Whangārei Parkrun on Saturday mornings.

“I would like to go to the national marathon championships next year and half marathon championships – those are my aims next year.”

But first she will tick off her 199th half marathon at the Kerikeri Half Marathon on November 19.

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