Hazel To Take On First Running Challenge At Age Of 70

Most people embark on a luxury cruise or dream holiday when they retire from work.

Not so Birmingham grandmother Hazel Williams who, after hanging up her work clothes for good, bought herself a treadmill and made it her mission to take on her first ever running event at the age of 70.

Age is nothing but a number for the Hall Green resident who will be among the 7,000 runners, walkers and joggers at this year’s Simplyhealth Great Birmingham 10K on Sunday, April 30.

The former clerical worker at Edgbaston High School for Girls is raising funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Society; a cause close to her heart as her eldest daughter Katie suffers from the chronic illness.

Hazel retired five years ago after 20 years at Edgbaston High School for Girls. She now enjoys gardening, knitting, sowing and spending time with her four grandchildren and three children; Katie, Emma and Ryan.

“I also try drawing but I’m not very good,” she said. “And now I’m into walking and keeping fit.

“The 10K will be the first time I will have taken part in an organised running event.

“The last race I was in was at junior school when we ran the length of the playground and I think I came fifth out of six!”

Hazel bought the home treadmill as a way of keeping active with her husband John.

“John doesn’t get out very much so we decided for our 70th birthday we could get a treadmill and we can both keep fit.

“I bought the treadmill and I quite enjoyed it but then one day I thought to myself ‘this is alright but is there any point to it?’”

Hazel said she always wanted to take part in a running event but family life ‘got in the way’.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” she added.

“Now I’m retired there’s nothing to stop me, is there?”

“I spotted the Great Birmingham 10K earlier this year and signed up for it.

“I plan to walk bits and run some of it. It just depends how I feel on the day.

“I am hoping to run the bit through Cannon Hill Park because it’s so lovely.”

And what was her family’s reaction when Hazel told them she was in training for the Simplyhealth Great Birmingham 10K?

“Katie cried when I told her,” she said.

“I’m running this for her, to raise funds for MS research.

“Running for the MS Society means so much to me and it’s not a charity that many people support.

“There is no cure for MS and little knowledge of what causes it. Until they get an idea of the cause they will not be able to find the cure.

“It’s too late for my daughter. She is 46 in May and whatever they find can’t cure her.

“I just don’t want any other mother to go through what I’ve been through; to watch your daughter go downhill and not be able to do anything about it.

“She has a terrific sense of humour and she’s so positive but it’s heartbreaking.”

The Simplyhealth Great Birmingham 10k is accessible to all levels of ability, whether you walk, jog or run the route. For those looking for a bigger challenge, it’s also a great training run in preparation for the Simplyhealth Great Birmingham Run half marathon or the inaugural Birmingham International Marathon to be held in the city in October. To enter, visit greatrun.org/birmingham10k

The Simplyhealth Great Birmingham 10k will be televised live on Channel 5 on the 30th April.

To sponsor Hazel and help the work of the MS Society visit http://www.justgiving.com/Hazelnutwood70