John Moon: Running at 75

Hi, I’m John Moon and I live near Andover and I’m 75 – yes, one of those old fogeys that the marshals wish would move a bit faster so that they can get off home. I ran my first Clarendon in 2003 when I was 62, after running friends told me what an interesting course it was.  Although I have always played a lot of sport, I did not start road running until after giving up team sports in my mid-40s – competitively putting one foot in front of the other being the last refuge for the ageing sportsman.

Although I have run a few road marathons, I have never felt strong enough to attempt the full Clarendon Marathon and admire those who do.  However, I enjoy the variety of trail runs and have so far completed five Clarendon Halfs and participated in the relay event on two other occasions.  My first three halfs all finished at a school at Laverstoke and I remember the relief felt at first seeing the tip of the spire of Salisbury Cathedral poking up from the horizon somewhere west of Pitton. There is no spire to look for running towards Winchester, but there is the encouragement of hearing the crowd at Kings School long before the finishing line is in sight.  One of the relay runs was memorable in that end was at the Sports Centre in Salisbury and our way into the centre of town was complicated by a torrential downpour which flooded some of the pedestrian underpasses that formed part of our tortuous route.

The difficulty of the run is much more dependent on the weather than with a road race – on a wet day the slipperiness of the tracks demands grippier footwear than normal trainers, but then the occasional ploughed field can mean that one reaches the other side feeling as though one has 10Kg weights attached to each foot.  Age is another factor that affects performance.  I reckon that, averaged over all races and all distances during the past 25 years, each year sees me about 1% slower than the year before. Running niggles also become more prevalent but, as someone else said, although the symptoms of growing old may be annoying, the alternative is even worse.  I have never been good enough to win a major prize, but I was pleased to be 2nd over 60 one year and 2nd Hasher another; ten years on I just think about survival.

As well as running, I play tennis, where my ability to run speedily around the court partly offsets my lack of skill, and over the last few years I have been doing as much cycling as running. The photo shows me during a recent Manche to Med cycle tour across France – still wearing the T-shirt of course.  This year I aim to train a bit harder for the race in an attempt to beat my 1% rule.