The old adage ‘age is just a number’ will never be more true than at the Active Northumberland Kielder 10k run this October.
Wilfred Laidler, who is 77 and from Killingworth, is living proof that it’s never too late to take up running and improve your health.
In 2011, and at the age of 71, Wilfred suffered a serious heart attack and had to undergo triple heart bypass surgery. The attack left him on high levels of medication and in the words of his son Derek ‘like a frail old man in his 70s’.
Wilfred wasn’t getting much exercise at all and after a fall while on his way to get the paper one morning he became even less active. Concerned for his health he turned to his son for advice.
Derek Laidler, said: “My dad wasn’t particularly active before the heart attack but became even less so after it happened. I was really concerned for his health and wellbeing, he very quickly became like a frail old man and when he came to me for help I suggested he tried becoming more active.
“The first thing he did was get a fitness tracker and started building up the amount of steps he did each day. His first goal was to reach 10k a day and once he started doing this he began jogging between the lampposts where he lived.”
Wilfred didn’t stop there though. The grandfather-of-seven started setting himself bigger goals – jogging between two, three, four sets of lampposts and pushing himself further week by week. He even bought himself a pair of specialist running trainers to help.
He joined his son Derek, himself a keen runner, on a local park run in Ganavan Sands, Oban, and managed the three miles in a respectable 48 minutes – the first time Wilfred had ever run three miles in his life!
From this point on Wilfred had the running bug and began running local park runs every weekend and doing a couple of miles most days. He joined his local gym and running club, in Killingworth, to gain some more guidance and was running every day until Derek told him he needed to rest!
Most importantly though, Wilfred’s health dramatically improved thanks to the running. So much so that he was able to stop most of his medication relating to his heart attack and has gone from being a ‘frail old man’ to a fit and active runner.
Wilfred said: “It’s been a gradual process, but I’m living proof of what can be achieved through a little hard work and determination. Before I started running I was in a bad way with my health and I couldn’t see anyway of ever getting better but thanks to Derek’s help running really has changed my life for the better.
“I feel healthier than I ever have done before and I really enjoy it. It’s never too late to get into running and get fit, I have lost a stone in weight,the benefits are incredible and it might just change your life.”
Derek added: “We are all really proud of dad, the change we’ve all seen in him has been incredible and the next challenge is the Kielder 10k in October. I will be doing the Run Bike Run event on the same day and we are both excited and looking forward to taking part.”
The 10k event is part of Active Northumberland Kielder Marathon Weekend and is run by Events of the North, a company led by Olympians Steve Cram and Allison Curbishley, in conjunction with Northumbrian Water, Active Northumberland, and Northumberland County Council.
Race director Steve Cram said: “Wilfred is a real inspiration to us all and his story really highlights the benefits running and exercise can bring no matter what age you are. I hope he enjoys his first ever 10k and he couldn’t have picked a better location to do it in. I wish him and Derek the best of luck with the event.”
David Hall, Head of Leisure Strategy at Northumbrian Water, said: “To see Wilfred and Derek on the starting line for the 10k will be fantastic. Its stories like theirs that make the Kielder Marathon weekend what it is and we are delighted to have the reservoir and Kielder Waterside as the backdrop to the amazing events.”
Northumberland County Councillor, Cath Homer, cabinet member for leisure said: "Well done Wilfred. This is a fantastic achievement and proves you are never too old to get active.
“Whether it is a gentle walk, swimming, or in this case running a marathon, we know that regular exercise helps us to live happier and healthier lives, especially through our later decades. It sounds as if Wilfred’s training is going really well so I am sure he will rise to the challenge and enjoy the day.”
For more information on the events taking place at Kielder Marathon Weekend 2017 and to take part visit www.kieldermarathon.com