iTAB Star, June 2023
Clare Wall from Canberra, Australia.
“At the age of 65, to win my age group in the biggest marathon in the world, hey you know, when you get older sometimes things surprise you’.”
Clare Wall’s running story began when she ran her first marathon in 1979. On her 60th birthday she set herself a challenge to run the New York Marathon, which she accomplished in the fastest time for her age group. She went on to run all of the ‘big six’ international marathons, and in 2022 she completed her 10th Gold Coast Marathon.
‘I had a bit of a purple patch at the end of 2019, and I won my age group in the New York Marathon. I still have to pinch myself a bit about that one.’
Clare, on her greatest running achievement.
I probably have to say my home marathon, Canberra Marathon. It’s pretty good when you know the course back the front.
Why do you run?
I run because I always feel better after I’ve had a run, and even during the run I often feel better so, it’s just something that I enjoy doing. I think it gives me a lot of other health and social benefits as well. It’s my feel-good time. I like being out in nature, and I solve problems when I’m out running, so that’s a bonus. And then if I want to indulge myself at the end of the day, I can think well I’ve been for a run, so I’ve earned it.
How long have you been running for?
I was a reasonably serious distance runner in my early 20s. I ran my first marathon in 1978, so that’s quite a while ago.
How many marathons have you run?
I’ve done 38 marathons now.
Greatest running achievement?
I had a bit of a purple patch at the end of 2019, and I won my age group in the New York Marathon. I still have to pinch myself a bit about that one.
Why is the Gold Coast Marathon so special to you?
I’m now a member of the Gold Coast Marathon Legends Club, which is a group of people who’ve run 10 or more Gold Coast marathons. So, I ran my 10th Gold Coast Marathon last year which was special. I didn’t originally intend to run quite so many. I ran it about 12 years ago now. I just really enjoyed the organisation, the vibe of the place, and it was a nice to have a winter holiday somewhere a bit warmer than where I live. It’s just a very well organised event and so I go back most years.
Are you running the Gold Coast Marathon this year?
Yes, I will be running the Gold Coast marathon this year. As always, my first goal is just to finish but I do have a time I’d like to run, under four hours. And if I can go close to 3hr 50 That would be excellent.
How important is a good time?
It’s always a bit of a bonus when you do a good time and it gives you a bit of feel good factor about it. I’ve done some marathons where I’ve been disappointed with my time, I’ve thought that given the training I had been doing I might have done better than that. But that’s marathon running, you just shrug your shoulders to some extent and say at least I finished.
How many years have you been running competitively for?
I was distance running competitively in my 20s, then when I had children and I was pretty busy at work and all those things, so I didn’t compete very much. I was still active, but for a number of years I didn’t compete very much. I got gradually got back into it and about 15 years ago I built up again.
Why run an event?
I think it’s always good to have another event lined up to plan for, it gives you just a little bit of an incentive. particularly if the weather’s not very nice or something like that. Sometimes it’s just making that first step out the door, so if you’ve got an event lined up, that’s an added incentive. I like the people and I like the atmosphere at the events. And it’s always good to test yourself, sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t do quite so well but it’s just good to mix with other humans too.
‘It’s my feel-good time. I like being out in nature, and I solve problems when I’m out running, so that’s a bonus. And then if I want to indulge myself at the end of the day, I can think well I’ve been for a run, so I’ve earned it.’
Clare, on why she runs.
When did you start to run at international events?
It was the end of 2014, and I just turned 60 and I thought I’d do something special to celebrate my 60th birthday, or sort of prove to people I wasn’t really getting old. So, I ran my first International Marathon that year, which was the New York Marathon, and it was a great event. Then I got a bit hooked into the other big marathons and I’ve now finished the rest of them, the others in the ‘Big Six’, and I’ve run New York Marathon twice now.
What’s the feeling like when you cross that finish line?
I think probably the best feeling is when you cross the finish line, you get your medal, you get your breath back, and you can start composing yourself. I usually then say congratulations to all the other runners near me that have also just finished and there’s a real camaraderie with people you’ve never met before and will never likely to meet again. But we’ve all just finished and there’s a shared feeling, we made it, okay, time to celebrate.
What’s the secret to your success?
Well, perhaps I’m lucky I got the right genes, but what I say to people is, when I was at school, I enjoyed sport, but I wasn’t particularly talented. I never won any best sports person prizes or anything like that. I ran in my 20s and I did okay, but there were people in my local area that were better than me. So, at the age of 65, to win my age group in the biggest marathon in the world, hey you know, when you get older sometimes things surprise you. And I’m now 68 and still very lucky that I’m running largely uninjured.
What do your family think about your running story?
They’re adults now but my children have grown up with it so are used to it. My husband is not a runner but he’s happy, and comes to a lot of the events with me. So yeah. Works well.
How important is the running medal?
It’s nice, particularly the big races, they have really nice medals, if it’s a smaller race, it’s probably less important. I have a bowl full of my favourite medals, put it that way.
What made you buy an iTAB?
I have an iTAB on most of my medals. It’s great to have my name and my time on the back of the medal, it’s just an added reminder of what I achieved on that day.
Any future goals?
Obviously, this year, the Gold Coast Marathon. I’m thinking I ‘ll do the Sydney Marathon later this year because it’s potentially going to be the seventh World Major, and they need to get 15,000 finishers to help with their bid. I may not worry about the time, as long as I finish and I’m one of those 15,000.
Thanks Clare, you’re a star!