Everyone loves the underdog stories. The people who seem to “come out of nowhere” and crush it. The ones who defy the norm or expected.
Here are a few of them. Individuals who defy what it means to be an elite runner. These are examples of people who have worked their butts off but also in a way give hope to many who may not have picked up running at an early age but who still hope to be an extra ordinary athlete.
Of course it’s important to realize these people are truly extra ordinary. There are thousands of people who started late and never went on to set a record or win a championship. But it’s also important to know that there are many who started late and while they didn’t set records or win they still may have been able to run elite times – those people just don’t get stories written about them 😉
Lionel Sanders | From Drug Addict to Ironman World Champion | “Sanders’s recovery wasn’t smooth. He’s relapsed three times and considered suicide. But he found purpose and motivation while training.”
Steve Way | Losing 80 Pounds En Route to Elite Status | “Britain’s fastest over-40 marathoner was 230 pounds and a smoker. Now he’s representing his country in international competition.”
Ariana Hilborn | Final Surge Podcast Interview | “Having never run in high school or college, Ariana went from running her first marathon in 4:37 to running an Olympic Qualifying time 6 years later.”
Arthor Lydiard | “Lydiard was a late convert to running, commencing only at the age of 27, with a modest initial goal of finding a way to get and stay fit. In short order running became his passion, and through dogged trial and error he became New Zealand’s finest marathoner, winning their national championship in 1953 in his thirty-sixth year.”
Brian Pilcher | A Remarkable Masters Marathon Record | “He ran 9:33 for 2 miles while a junior at Beverly Hills High School then opted out of track the following year to focus on surfing with friends. He joined the track team as a freshman at Dartmouth only to get injured tobogganing with his fraternity brothers, and he hung up his spikes for 30 years.”
Kathy Martin | After Late Start, Runner is Speeding Through Records | “Life can bestow unexpected gifts, and sometime in her late 40s, Martin, a real estate agent living on Long Island, a busy working mother who had never been in a track meet, discovered a glorious secret hidden away in her body. Not only was she a good runner, she was also an outstanding one. In fact, she was one of the most remarkable female distance runners in the world.”
Matthew Elliot | Unknown Matthew Elliott was 4th in the 1500 at USATF championships. | “Matthew Elliott had never made an NCAA or USATF final and never broken 3:40 for 1500 meters, and you’d never heard of him unless you live in Rock Hill, South Carolina.”
Laura Batternick | No wonder I didn’t know her. | ““I never ran in high school or college,” she told me behind the stage. “I began running for recreation about ten years ago two or three times a week for a half-hour. Then when I moved to Evanston I joined the Evanston Running Club to meet people, and they told me I was pretty fast.””
Heather Turland | A Balanced Life | “After all, she only took up running to get back into shape in between the births of her children.”