Meet Nidderdale’s marathon-smashing golden oldies

Pictured from left, Stan Appleton, 67, John Ward, 67, Norman Bush, 75, Lloyd Gregory, 61, John Fenick, 60, and Bill Wade, 74. Picture: Adrian Murray. (1510032AM1)
Pictured from left, Stan Appleton, 67, John Ward, 67, Norman Bush, 75, Lloyd Gregory, 61, John Fenick, 60, and Bill Wade, 74. Picture: Adrian Murray. (1510032AM1)
  • Athletes regularly train together
  • Three Peaks and Snowdonia Marathon no obstacle
  • Oh, and they’re aged between 60-75

A group of men from Nidderdale are continuing to win medals for triathlons, fell runs and marathons - despite all being over the age of 60.

The five athletes, aged between 60 and 75, live within a few miles of each other and regularly compete in national sporting events.

They owe their stamina to a healthy, natural diet and regular exercise in the stunning Nidderdale countryside.

The oldest of the group, Norman Bush, 75, from Glasshouses, who has just won gold at the World Mountain Running Championship (over 75s), said: “None of us think of ourselves as old. Age is just a number and it has no effect at all. It’s about how healthy you are.”

Joking that there must be something in the air in Nidderdale, he added: “We are all surrounded by countryside so I suppose that is a help!”

The athletes all train at Nidderdale Leisure Centre under the watchful eye of coach Harry Dowdell.

Mr Bush said: “Regular exercise keeps us in good shape.” But could their picturesque training ground be the real reason behind their success?

“If you want to carry on running to a ripe old age move to Nidderdale!” said Mr Bush.

The five athletes are:

John Fenwick, 60, from Glasshouses

Mr Fenwick has enjoyed cycling and running since he was 13 and he took up triathlon at the age of 52, at which point he learned to swim. Mr Fenwick retired in March, when he decided to train for an ironman. In June he completed a half ironman and qualified for the world championships for his age group in Austria, when he finished 39th.

He said: “I have had six age group wins in other shorter events this year, including one in Spain. Finishing work has given me a bit more time to train but the benefit to rest and recovery has been considerable.”

Lloyd Gregory, 61, from Low Laithe

Mr Gregory has competed in the Ilkley triathlon each year from 2009-2014, setting his personal best at the age of 60. For the past two years he has competed in the Nidderdale triathlon. He also takes part in regular park runs and for the last 10 years he has swum three times a week at Nidderdale Pool. He cycles 200 miles a month in summer and 100 miles a month in winter.

He said: “I am able to keep going by keeping active all the time. I have got rid of joint pain by taking regular doses of organic apple cider vinegar, cod liver oil and the supplements glucosamine and MSM.”

Stan Appleton, 67, from Pateley Bridge

Mr Appleton is an orienteer, marathon and ultra trail runner, with his longest run so far being 62 miles. He completed this year’s London Marathon in under four hours. Last year he came second in his age category in the 2014 Snowdonia Marathon. He is also the 2013 and 2014 Yorkshire orienteering champion in his age category.

He said: “You’re never too old to try a new form of running. I didn’t start orienteering until I was 62.”

Bill Wade, 74, from Pateley Bridge

Mr Wade has completed the Three Peaks Race 42 time since 1962. He has completed the London Marathon in 2hrs 32mins. In 2008 he came first in the over 65 English Fell Running Championship and in 2012 he was named as the Yorkshire Champion (over 70) in cross-country 10 miles and 15 miles.

Norman Bush, 75, from Glasshouses

Mr Bush won the English Fell Running Championship (over 70s) in 2014. Last month he won the gold medal at the World Mountain Running Championships (over 75s).

He said: “I have not had any joint pain since I started my raw food fiet seven years ago.”