World records don’t fall every day, but when John Woodall crossed the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon’s 8K finish line last October, his name was destined to enter the record books.
With a time of 45.41, the Oak Bay man is the world single age record holder for 83-year-olds at the 8K distance, certified by the Association of Road Racing Statisticians.
Not that he had the record in his sights during his run. “I just plodded on and stuck to it,” he says.
The first inkling he had of the milestone came in an email that didn’t actually mention the record, so he didn’t pursue it right away. When confirmation came, “John didn’t believe it,” said his wife, Nadine.
Woodall, who runs for the Prairie Inn Harriers, has been racing on the Island and the Lower Mainland for more than 10 years, although his love of running reaches back much farther, to his school days in England.
“I’ve always tried to stay fit,” says Woodall, whose other activities over the years have included rugby and ballroom dancing with Nadine.
“I got involved with running with the Prairie Inn Harriers and it just became a habit,” he says simply. Once you start, “you have to go, you have to do it, and you meet a lot of nice people.”
You’ll often see Woodall out along his regular route, an “easy” 12 to 14km through Fairfield, back along Dallas Road, Beach Drive and King George Terrace, before heading home along Newport. If he feels like something a little longer – say 20km – he’ll continue through the Uplands toward the golf course and back.
Why run? “Basically to keep fit, and I can eat what I like,” he laughs, but adds that he’s actually fairly careful about what he enjoys, especially before a run.
He has several regular running groups, including his Thursday morning group of about 30 or 40 runners, and a Sunday morning trio of young women he met while leading a 10K clinic some time ago.
“They enjoy the old man’s company and we’ve been close friends now for quite a number of years,” he says. They also celebrated accordingly when Woodall got word of the record – with cupcakes, of course.