Bernadette takes the lead, and she is now 75 years young!

Bernadette Rowland, aged 75, with Stainland Lions runners
Bernadette Rowland, aged 75, with Stainland Lions runners

WHEN Bernadette Rowland was nudging 70 she swapped her slippers for running shoes and is still going strong.

Now, aged 75, she regularly leads a group with Stainland Lions Running Club.

And, every Monday she is actively encouraging new runners on the club’s beginners’ course which started in April and for which a staggering 120 enrolled.

Mrs Rowland started boosting her fitness seven years ago ahead of a trip to Peru.

Unfortunately, she contacted malaria and lost her new-found fitness.

Shortly afterwards, her husband, Cedric, 72, and a couple of friends announced they were joining the Lions.

Mrs Rowland also decided to join and while Cedric dropped out she is hooked.

“Apart from keeping me fit and slim I have made friends,” she said.

“Running has expanded my social life and as all the runners are younger than me it also keeps me young.”

The Lions have nearly 200 regular members and they tend to split into various running groups based on their abilities.

Mrs Rowland, of Outlane, runs around 12 miles weekly split into two sessions every Tuesday and Saturday.

“To motivate yourself is sometimes hard work but once you are out it’s ok,” she said.

“And, when you get back home it’s a nice feeling having done a run.”

She said the Lions welcomed all abilities including plodders.

“Some people are hesitant and the hardest thing is taking that first step,” said Mrs Rowland, a grandmother.

A Lions’ former chairman John Bassinder said Mrs Rowland was an inspiration to the beginners’ group.

And, he said the club would welcome more new runners in Olympic year when all sports clubs were trying to encourage people to improve their fitness.

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