96-Year-Old World Record Holder Taking On Runaway Sydney 10km To Support Running For Premature Babies
At 96 years old, Heather Lee already holds multiple world records in race walking, and this Sunday, 21 May 2023 she will take on her latest age-defying feat – the HOKA Runaway Sydney 10km.
Heather will be walking the 10km race to raise awareness for Running for Premature Babies, a charity which holds special significance for her.
“I share my birthday, 17 November, with World Prematurity Day – a day set aside to raise awareness for the 15 million babies that are born early each year, including 26,000 here in Australia. I’m proud to be the patron for Running for Premature Babies because I’m going to be leaving this world soon, and I want to do something for those struggling to enter it,” said Heather.
Heather only found her love – and talent – for race walking later in life. Her husband’s last words to her before he passed away were, “Now’s the time to find your mettle”, and this inspired her to join a running group in her 70s. From there she took up race walking, and five weeks before turning 85 entered the 2011 Masters Games in Adelaide and came home with four gold medals.
By the end of 2012 Heather had broken all of the age group Australian records in race walking, along with some world records, and she’s been continuing to set records ever since.
Her latest trifecta of world records came during the back end of last year, when she set new 95-100 age group world records over 400m, 800m, and 1500m.
“I’m motivated to keep setting new world records. I’ve broken all the current records so now I’m trail blazing. I want to set the bar high for the people coming after me and set new records that will be hard to break. I’m also motivated to keep race walking so I can show people it can be done. I like motivating and inspiring others and proving that age is no barrier,” said Heather.
This weekend, Heather will join thousands of others on the start line of the Runaway Sydney Half Marathon, with the event celebrating its 30th anniversary. For the first time, the event will incorporate a 10km race, providing more opportunities than ever before to those, like Heather, wanting to take part in one of Sydney’s most iconic running events.
“I’m really looking forward to the course and love the chance to race around the harbour. I’m looking forward to racing alongside people of all ages and feeling like I’m just one of them. It’s going to be a big challenge, but I love a challenge and I love to push myself and see what I’m capable of. I think I’ll enjoy it more than anyone,” said Heather.
While Heather is excited to race the 10km to push her own capabilities, she’s also motivated by her role as patron for Running for Premature Babies.
“I like to think that growing old isn’t such a bad thing after all. I’m honoured to be able to inspire others as the patron of Running for Premature Babies. Even if you’re not supremely fit, join me in walking the 10km to save the lives of premature babies. I’m turning 97 this year, so if I can do it, you can too,” she said.
There’s still time to join the Running for Premature Babies team for the Runaway Sydney Half Marathon. Every person who raises $200 or more for the charity will receive a free running singlet.
All donations will go directly towards providing lifesaving neonatal equipment to hospitals around Australia. To date, $6 million has been raised by the charity, benefitting an estimated 26,000 babies.
For more information and to enter the 30th anniversary edition of the HOKA Runaway Sydney Half Marathon visit https://runawaysydneyhalf.com.au/