81-year-old runner finishes her 175th marathon: ‘One of the very best’

Hilary Wharam, an 81-year-old runner from Leeds, who set a goal of completing 300 marathons, described the Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon as one of her most memorable experiences.

Wharam, who began running at the age of 55, achieved her 175th marathon on Sunday and completed it in an impressive eight hours and 15 minutes.

Reflecting on the event, she expressed her amazement, stating, “It was amazing. I never expected it to be so good.”

During an interview with BBC News, she shared that the support of many people who came to cheer her on during the run was crucial in helping her cross the finish line.

She said: ‘So many people know me, not just the runners but from other disciplines, so as I was running round people were jumping out from the crowd to give me a hug.’

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Hilary acknowledged that as the marathons become challenging towards the end, having people to converse with provides valuable support.

She said: ‘It’s always hard, it’s harder on your own, but if you’ve got a captive audience, and you’re thinking about helping them, you just fly because you’re not concentrating on yourself at all.’

Following the heartwarming gesture of former rugby league star Rob Burrow being carried across the finish line at the first-ever marathon by his former teammate Kevin Sinfield, who had previously pushed him in a wheelchair throughout the entire 26-mile course.

In an effort to support motor neurone disease (MND) charities, the duo participated in the first Leeds marathon in two decades alongside 12,500 other runners, utilizing a specially-adapted chair.

Since Rob Burrow’s diagnosis with MND in late 2019, his friend and former Leeds Rhinos teammate, Kevin Sinfield, a rugby coach, has raised an impressive sum of over £8 million for MND charities.

The marathon, along with the concurrent Leeds Half Marathon, is organized by Leeds City Council in collaboration with Jane Tomlinson’s Run For All charity and has already surpassed the £1 million fundraising milestone.

Sinfield said ahead of the marathon: ‘To raise money for the MND Association and the Leeds Hospitals Charity is really important, but this is also about a celebration of friendship.

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