category : ‘Resource Links’





NO COST Reservation at:


Coach Dan (Forerunners Learn to Run 5K) and Moderator

How many wonder what it takes to be a “senior runner”? We see news on social media and on TV about amazing seniors doing amazing things. Some are in their 70s and 80s and even 90s. They are still out there, some are achieving quite unthinkable results, but even if they aren’t setting single age world records, a lot (more and more these days) are still active and more importantly, ENJOYING it.

Forerunners has drawn together a panel of speakers that epitomize what active, achieving seniors are all about. Forerunners’ “Coach Dan” Cumming was tasked with organizing and moderating the Super Senior Seminar. Rules were pretty simple: FOUR remarkable seniors, OVER 70. In Vancouver, the hard part is deciding on JUST FOUR! (And, FYI the average age of panelists and the moderator is over 77.) We hope you will be impressed with the following line-up (youngest to oldest).

Dr. Jack Taunton ready for some pole walking.

Dr. Jack Taunton (70s) Arguably, Jack is Dean of Running in Vancouver, with a best Vancouver Marathon of 2:25, completing 63 marathons in total, 30 under 2:30. Jack’s professional career is in medicine (40 years) and he served as Chief Medical Officer for the 2010 Olympics, attending 8 others as sport physician or CMO. He’s been the founder or co-founder of running clubs and events including Lions Gate Roadrunners, Vancouver Marathon, Sun Run and Cunningham Seawall Race to name a few.

Avril Douglas burning up the Track

Avril Douglas (70s) A track athlete, Avril is also a holder of Single Age World Records and National Age Group records at distances of 100, 200 and 400m. She is an active member of Kajaks Track and Field Club and the Forever Young Group centred in Richmond (the very definition of active seniors). Among other achievements, Avril coaches young runners. Like BJ McHugh, Avril’s non-running career is in nursing.

Rod Waterlow at California International Marathon.

Rod Waterlow (80s) Rod was a nationally and regionally ranked age group marathoner up to age 77, with sub-4:00 times, well into his 8th decade. The past two years he has been working his way back from a non-running injury, and showing the way through perseverance, while racing at shorter distances (for now). Hear how a fierce age group competitor has kept going so long and is fighting his way back to form. Be inspired, not just by the running, but by the perseverance and ‘never say never’ attitudes of both Rod and Jack.

Betty Jean (BJ) McHugh near the Start of the First Half Half Marathon

Betty Jean (BJ) McHugh (90s) BJ is well known for her string of Single Age World Records, including her most recent W90 record (6:47:31) at the Honolulu Marathon (Dec 2017). We will try to get her to share her secrets. If you like Age Grading, consider BJ’s most recent record equates to a marathon time of 2:02:10! Also, keep in mind that BJ was a late starter in this running and marathoning stuff, as were both Rod and Dan.

This is not about how to BE a super-achiever, as is each of the panelists, but rather how to keep going and having fun with what you do. How to deal with the set-backs that come to all active people, not just those of us who are ‘Mature’ Athletes. The Seminar is BY Super Seniors, but not necessarily FOR seniors. If you have ever said “I want to be like her/him, when I grow up!” this is your chance to get in on the SECRETS of these SUPER SENIORS.



Running in the Zone is about to try something new. In collaboration with Everyday Health, and just in time for the Christmas festivities we are bringing you some fun facts about marathons. Some might say there is nothing ‘fun’ about a marathon, but I doubt it would be anyone who reads this blog! I will certainly agree that at certain points along the way, ‘fun’ might not be precisely what we are thinking. That would probably be around 20 miles for most people. But, we all know how good it feels when we stop (at the finish, of course)- sort of reminds me of something else (also generally involving a wall).

We agreed that the best arrangement was to link to the article, but as a teaser, here is my favorite Fun Fact:

#14.  At 100 years old, Fauja Singh became the oldest person — and the first centenarian — to finish a marathon when he crossed the finish line at the 2011 Toronto Marathon. His final time: eight hours, 11 minutes, and 5.9 seconds.

Now, anyone who follows this blog is going to know why this is my favorite! I had the pleasure of running with Fauja Singh in September, right here in Surrey, BC! We didn’t do a marathon. Just 5K that time, but what great fun it was to run with this amazing man as part of his entourage of family and friends. Seeing this paricular fact, and its extension, I now better understand why those around him would break out in laughter from time to time! Even though I couldn’t understand what he was saying, I could tell the man was very witty (and maybe just a little profound) – see what he had to say as he finished his marathon at age 100!

“Just before we came around the [final] corner, he said, ‘Achieving this will be like getting married again,’” his trainer Harmander Singh said, according to Fox Sports.

Hmmmm. That has a bit of a familiar ring to it. In fact, it was my doctor (a running friend) who got me into my first marathon some 25 years ago. How? He had just done his first not long before and declared, “It was the most exciting thing I’ve ever done, next to my honeymoon!” With an endorsement like that, who could resist? It seems that Mr. Singh had similar thoughts as he finished the Toronto Marathon in 2011.

For the other 25 Fun Facts – follow this link to 26.2 Fun Facts About Marathons.

I think my second favorite is the one about Kathrine Switzer and the 1967 Boston Marathon. Kathrine is a good friend to this Blog and Running in the Zone: A Handbook for Seasoned Athletes. And, she continues to do fantastic work to promote running and women’s running in particular.

So there you have a little gift from Running in the Zone as a celebration of the festive Christmas and New Year Season. Maybe it will be the motivation to sign up for your next, maybe your FIRST marathon.

See you on the roads and trails in 2013!



A running friend and rival sent me to an interesting site, that has been around for a while and which I have learned, others knew about well before me.  It is a fun and useful (to a point) web site where you can create your own racing record from on-line results.  The site is Athlinks.

The guy who sent me there is about a week older than me and a great (friendly) rival here in our local running community.  I think he must have known that although we have been aware of each other for a couple of years now, we have run against one another for considerably longer – that is, in the same races.  I think he also knew, before he invited me to get onto this site and set up my own racing records, that he actually had me over the long term 12-9 in head to head encounters.  We will have to see about that!  The bad news for him is that he clearly nailed me almost every time in the early encounters but of late, I have him almost as often.  I’m catching you Ben!!!  Competitive?  Who’s competitive?  Not him.  Not me.  OK, maybe just a little.

He told me he had assured himself that he wasn’t getting spammed to death before sending me to the site.  I have also been waiting for some time before posting the link here, for the same reason.  There is no doubt Athlinks is a commercial site with potentials to follow certain products and work through to areas where you would at least link to a site where purchasing of athletic products (Athlinks isn’t just for runners) could be done.  But, that would be up to you as the “surfer”.  No problem there.

A lot of results are already on-line.  However, if you know you did a race and can give them the URL for the event/results, they will add the event if it isn’t already in their listings.  Generally, that goes fairly smoothly.  I have successfully added several.  Once a race is included in the database, it is there for anybody who did the event.

I have found that like so many things today, nothing exists before the digital age. That is why in the opening segment I said “to a point” re the site being fun and useful.  That said, if race directors or club execs or race organizers want to include historical results on their event sites and have an accessible database, it seems Athlinks will try to add it to the results they hold.  As an example, Athlinks has just become a sponsor of one of my favorite events, the Hood to Coast Relay.  Yes, even that kind of data is included.  I commented back to the Hood to Coast folk re their sponsorship announcemenet that it was too bad that older results (I did H2C in 1987 and 1989) were not available and got a response along the lines of “just wait – they are coming”.  Another event I know is preparing a database of historical results (I’m watching for 1988) is the Vancouver Marathon as it gets ready to celebrate its 40th running on May 1, 2011.  In summary, if organizers are willing to put old results on-line, Athlinks can probably pick them up into the database.

Of course, I raise this matter because this blog is at least notionally, for “seasoned” athletes and most of us “seasoned” athletes do have results that date back earlier than about 1998 (where almost any race I could come up with, could be found on-line).  Before 1998 I have had trouble with locating race results.  Now, that is a matter of the events to some extent and my own running career.  I did a lot of (my best) running from about 1985 to 1990, but then, although I kept running, I did not race much until the late 1990’s.  That is, there isn’t much to find in my own case.  Anyway, that is just a minor caution.  The Athlinks site is good fun and may even drive you to search out info you had forgotten about.  It certainly did in my case, with one very exciting and fun personal result being unearthed that I had indeed forgotten, and which was actually a 5K PB! How a person could forget a career PB is another story, which I won’t recount here.

As a useful and fun resource for readers of this blog and members of the cadre of Seasoned Athletes, you may want to check out Athlinks and set up your own membership and record.  Even if you don’t create an account, you can still search for races and results from the home page.

Are You Ready to Go Sub-2:00:00?


I’ve done it lots of times.  Of course I was running the Half Marathon, not the “full Monty”.  But, you knew the question had to come up when the standard dropped below 2:04 for the marathon.

I guess that nobody reading this blog is in that league, but maybe there is something to learn for everyone.  Technique is technique.  That is the thrust of the link below.  We all want to get to that next level or some personal goal we have established.  I know that enjoyment of running is NOT linked to competitiveness for everyone, but it is for some, maybe a lot of us, even if the competition is just with our last best time.

At RITZ the Blog we do not endorse things like this video, but we do offer them up for readers to consider.  Steve says we need to share this with you!  Are you ready for a new PB?  Maybe this is the way to achieve it.

Sub 2 Hour Marathon on YouTube

Sub-2:00?  That reminds me of a quote from Sir Roger Bannister upon breaking the four minute mile, and which we used to open “The Competition Zone” in Running in the Zone.  Here is what he said:

“Doctors and scientists said that breaking the four-minute mile was impossible, that one would die in the attempt.  Thus, when I got up from the track after collapsing at the finish line, I figured I was dead.” 

Is it possible to go under two hours?  I don’t know, but it is going to be fun watching to see.

Age Grading Tool


For “Seasoned” athletes age grading is a means to compare current results with past results and give context to performances over time.  There are a few of these available, but the one I personally use is the model developed by Howard Grubb, the “WMA age grading Caculator – 2006“.  I won’t get into the technology, as that is well covered elsewhere, including at this link.  I will address the more general question of why you would consider age grading at all.

After many years and much data, we have progressed from static tables where you would find your closest approximation, to “calculators”.  The model is seamless.  You can enter your age as a part year and still get an age graded equivalent time and percentage performance.  Strictly speaking, that isn’t the way most races do it – they use “age on race day” in whole years.  However, for personal estimation of progress against your own goals, I believe that if you wish to enter your age as 65.5 or 48.3 then go right ahead.  The same is true for unusual distances, like relay legs which never seem to be exact race distances like 5K, 10K etc.  The calculator doesn’t care.  Put in exact age and distance and you will get your result.

I use the logic that I might run one race right after my birthday, and another just before my next.  Using “age on day of race” your age is the same, yet you may be almost a year older.  In your younger years, it makes little difference, but as you start hitting the 60’s, well…..  I sometimes tell my friends that after about sixty, you start aging in “dog years”!  Well, it seems that way.

It is no secret that as we age, raw times begin to fade.  At first it is subtle, but eventually, unless you switch to an entirely new event, the PB becomes a thing of the past.  For some, that is an issue and a concern.  That was one of the reasons we first wrote “Running in the Zone”.  Most of us aren’t, and never were, super athletes, so running has to be fun and enjoyable.  For competitive types, I suppose that is why they invented age divisions.  You may not be able to win the race, but you can win your division.  But, even that doesn’t much help most runners.

Age grading allows you to compare your performance with your younger self and earlier performances.  Done properly, you should apply the age grading factor to both events, assuming that the earlier/younger result came after you were about 35.  Prior to that, age grading has little or no impact.

There are two grading factors to consider.  The first and most obvious is the adjusted time.  For example, let’s say you are 50 and have just run a 3:45 marathon.  Gender is important too.  You have to enter that fact into the calculator, so we will say the mythical marathoner is male.  And, for the sake of simplicity, we’ll say he ran the marathon to celebrate his birthday as he turned the big Five-O.  The adjusted time is 3:21:32.   Well, that is nice, but how does he use it to monitor progress?

Our boy likes these “birthday challenges”.  It turns out he also ran a marathon on his 40th birthday, just to celebrate and see.  Naturally, he was a bit quicker over the course (fortunately, the same one, and a similar weather day too).  He recorded a time of 3:26:30.  Clearly, those 10 years took their toll (18:30 worth).  Or did they?  When you age grade his result for his 40th Birthday Marathon, the adjusted time turns out to be……..wait for it………. 3:21:31!  In other words, in his competition with the calendar and the clock, age grading shows he held his own for those 10 years.  Pretty good birthday present, eh?

OK, I fudged the numbers to get the result.  I could just as easily have given him a time of 3:42 on his 50th and then age-grading would have shown 3:18:52.  Nice!  Not only that, but it really happens.  These times are far from unusual.

Those who have run races with Age Graded results will probably not recognize this model, but rather the “Percent Performance” format used by most events.  This is simply a comparative result against the world age standard.  You can also compare those year to year.  In my example this value comes out the same at 61.98%.  That is not a given, as it is totally dependent upon the world standard for the age.  For this specific example, the world standard for age 40 is 2:08:00, while for age 50 is 2:19:50.

Percent Performance gives the competitive runner a way to compare to others within an event, and again, with his or her own historical record.  As a personal example, I have struggled with some physical limitations having to do with a 20 year-old injury to my back and have recently taken aggressive steps to correct some related issues.  It pleases me greatly to note that between 2007 and 2010, my yearly best performances from 5K to marathon have slowly improved from an average of about 58% to about 62%.  I’m not getting older, I’m getting better!

These are far from stellar performances in the greater scheme of things, but that is not the point.  This tells me how I am doing relative to my own efforts and my personal limitations.  For most people that is what counts.  Without age grading, I would be faced with more than an hour’s difference between my best and latest marathons.  Over some twenty-two years that is not surprising but it is a lot of time and without the AG tool, I would have no way to objectively compare.

So, if you aren’t an absolute purist, and aren’t already into age-grading, give it a consideration.  If you aren’t competitive in spirit, then you don’t need this, don’t belong here (in this article), and probably stopped reading long ago.  For everyone else, give it a try and enjoy a new perspective on your running!