In South Africa, a grandmother, marathon runner, panic the chronos.

Avto 3 July, 2017

Photo: Gulshan Khan Agence France-Presse
Deirdre Larkin, age 85, owner of the record for the half marathon in the category of 85 years and more, trains in Johannesburg on June 14, 2017.

A wake alert, screw-on cap on impeccable white hair, and Deirdre Larkin runs for 8 kilometers of training in the suburbs of Johannesburg. At 85 years of age, this ex-concert pianist came on late in the race walk loop the half-marathon in just two hours.


“Before my 78-year-old, the last time I ran, it was in high school and I was really sucks “, she said in front of the 500 medals that cover the wall of a small room exclusively dedicated to his sporting exploits.


Alongside the awards, a few newspaper clippings and diplomas gleaned in various races confirm the reputation nascent of this grand mother marathon runner. Selfies with children, encouragement to the other riders : Deirdre became an attraction of the races on which it aligns.

Photo: Gulshan Khan Agence France-Presse
Deirdre Larkin in his home in Johannesburg

“People, when I double — because there’s still a lot that I double — greet me ! They say to me, “hey, it’s that they view on television.” But we’re not talking about a long time, because we must keep our breath, ” said Deirdre Larkin after a 10 km run in Pretoria in early June.


“It is very inspiring to see someone so old to run like that. I hope to run and be in shape until my 90 years old ! “fun Andisiwe Matshoba, a thirty-year-old who competed in the same race.


Nothing predestined yet this british pianist, arrived in South Africa in 1970, to collect the charms.


At the beginning of the years 2000, his doctor diagnosed osteoporosis and against which medicines, injections and even yoga have no effect.


Routine athlete


In 2010, one of his four children returned briefly to live with her in her home in Randburg, a suburb of middle class of Johannesburg.

My son was running three times per week. I told myself that I was going to accompany him. At the beginning, I ran three strides and I stopped to walk three steps.
Deirdre Larkin

Seven years ago, her progress is amazing : in April last, she was even invited to a race in Geneva, ” a wonderful memory with 10 km along the lake of Geneva “.


It must be said that Deirdre will impose a routine worthy of a high-level athlete : no sugar, no salt, no coffee and an alarm clock each morning at 5 am to train.


Result, she completed the year last 65 races, including several half-marathons. With the key being a world record in the category of more than 80 years on the 21 kilometers in 2: 05.


“Every time I finished a race, I can’t believe that I did. But the next day, my body is there to remind me ! “says Deirdre Larkin, the eye sparkling.


“My blood circulates faster in my veins, I feel all my muscles, I could not imagine that I had much. I feel in life, I have a lot more energy, ” she continued with a voice as fast as his stride.


Once the end of the morning, Deirdre does not nap. Every afternoon, she makes the wheel of his little yellow car in a private school in the north of the town to give piano lessons.


“Age is only a number “


Always floor of his Nike pink and blue, she has just swapped his shorts for pants, as we find it, wand in hand, beating the measure with a student. Directive, it does not let pass any mistake, but knows how to congratulate his student of the day for its progress.

Photo: Gulshan Khan Agence France-Presse
Deirdre Larkin is a piano teacher at Vuyo Tshwele, 16, at St. Peters College in Johannesburg on June 14, 2017.

“After the lessons, I’m exhausted. But when I see Deirdre, it reminds me that I can accomplish what I want in life, because it defies the destiny “, says his student Vuyo Tshwele, 17 years, between two ranges.


“It is a sacred inspiration to me, it proves that age is just a number. Most people think they are too old to do lots of things and she, at age 85, it runs faster than people my age, ” adds the teenager.


In total, thirty students spend each week in front of his eyes experts to improve their arpeggios.


In September, Deirdre Larkin will celebrate his 86 years. Not question to consider to slow down the pace.


“I can imagine a life without running. But that would be like a slow death. I will continue to run as long as I can. Even on one leg, I am sure that I will be able to get there “.