The Ageless Athlete-Age is Just a Number

Posted by martin.parnell |
The Ageless Athlete-Age is Just a Number

In the fall of 2017 I was reflecting on my year of running and it had been a tough one.  It had started off in late May with the Calgary Marathon 150km ultra. This was to celebrate Canada’s Confederation and I could see no better way to celebrate than to run multiple loops around downtown Calgary.  

The race started at 6.00am under the Olympic Arch at Eau Claire Market and things went well for the first six 10-km loops but, as darkness fell, I started to feel cramping in my calves. Running at night is very different from running during the day. The light played tricks with my eyes and time seemed to speed up. I kept going but, try as I might, when I hit the 95-km mark I knew I had run out of time. I was really disappointed. I had not finished, but in the end, I was just happy to head home. 

The following weeks I licked my wounds but decided to sign up for another race, the Golden Ultra in September. My coaching buddy Malc Kent had tracked my running parameters in the Calgary Marathon and he wanted to do the same at this race. The Golden Ultra was a three stage event which included a 1km mountain climb, a 60km mountain trail and a 21.1 forest route. I finished all three stages inside the cut off times but only barely. 

I realized that I had reached a cross road in my running. I was getting slower and slower and it wouldn’t be long before making any of the ultra-cut-off times would be challenging. 

I had a decision to make. Either I quit and take up another sport (Pickle ball?) or try and figure out how to shake up my running. I decided to give running one more shot and came up with a personal goal unlike any other. In 2003, at the age of 47, I had set personal bests times for the 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon. Fifteen years later, in 2018, at the age of 62, I decided to attempt to beat those times. I called this challenge “62 beats 47”. 

To help me take on this challenge I partnered with my running specialist buddy Malc Kent and together we embarked on a journey to see if we could turn back the running clock. Can an old athlete use the latest training methods and techniques and regain his former speed?  “The Ageless Athlete” tells a story of how age is just a number. That we should not be constrained by what society tells us and that no matter what the outcome the human spirit will prevail. 

On Wednesday, December 11th check out the TELUS Original documentary “The Ageless Athlete” on Facebook and YouTube.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” will be out in late 2019. Find out more about Martin at  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

comments powered by Disqus