McHugh, 81, enjoys journey at a faster pace than many


POSTED: Friday, December 12, 2008

If you think you're fairly fit for your age, Betty-Jean McHugh will shatter your illusions in a hurry. Known as “;BJ”; to family and friends, the 81-year-old set an age-group world record in the marathon in Victoria, Canada, this October, finishing in 4 hours, 36 minutes and 52 seconds, shattering the previous mark by 13 minutes. She also holds the world record in the 75-79 age group, with a blistering 4:10:07.

“;I felt so good that day!”; McHugh said of her most recent effort. “;I do enjoy running very much—not necessarily to win or set records. I just enjoy the training.”;

Always active as a skier and tennis player, McHugh started running in her mid-50s. She supplements 35 miles-per-week training (before a marathon) with yoga, biking and hiking in the hills around her home in North Vancouver. When she's not preparing for a marathon, she scales back her running to three times per week.

The retired nurse, mother of four and grandmother of four typically trains with people 30 to 50 years her junior. Several accompanied her to Honolulu for the event this year, which she thinks will be her 14th marathon. Keeping track is not a priority. For McHugh, it's all about enjoying the experience.