I’m getting more and more into radio. I love it in fact. I love the adrenaline of being on air, just sitting behind that mike with all the magical possibilities it seems to confer, and the fact that you can roll up looking like whatever you’re looking like at the time. I’ve done a little bit of TV work and angsting about clothes and make-up, for heaven’s sake, is, in my book, no fun at all.
Right now I’m a co-presenter on two local community radio stations in Bristol: BCFM’s Sportsbar and Ujima Radio’s the Babbers Show.The Ujima slot is relatively new. Babbers, a show aimed at the over 55s, has generously invited me to be their self-proclaimed ‘sports correspondent’. I’m a sports correspondent with a twist: once a month I’m interviewing a local sportsman or woman over 55 who’s done something remarkable in their chosen sport.
On the show on Monday July 1st I interviewed Sandra Brown, 70. And my goodness, did we have stardom in the studio. Sandra Brown has been described as “the world greatest woman ultra-distance walker ever”. Not only has she held national, European and world records ever since she first started competing in 1981 aged 35 but she continues to make and break phenomenal records, making another two at the end of June, less than a couple of weeks before coming on the show.
What did she do? Well she’s a centurian, which means she’s completed 100 miles in 24 hours or less. Some people are rightly very proud to do this just once in their lives. In March 2019 Sandra however completed her 200th 100-mile race. That’s a world record in itself – no one, male or female, has achieved that number. And in June, in her 3rd 100 mile race in four weeks (just think about that – every race is the equivalent of four marathons run or walked back to back), she set a new world record by finishing in 21hours, 15 minutes and 33seconds. This was by now her 204th 100 mile race – so again, another record. She then carried on until the 24 hours was over, setting another age-group world record by covering 114 miles in that time.
Sandra doesn’t run. She walks. Or rather she race-walks. And her race-walking speed is such that out of a total field of 225 ultra runners, she finished in 24th place overall – male or female, young or old.
In 1996, she set a new women’s world record for completing 1000km (8 days, 12 hours, 16 mins, 20secs) and also, wait for it, 1000miles (14 days, 10hours, 27 minutes and 20 secs). Although her actual time has since been bettered it still remains an age-group best.
Thrilled as I was that she agreed to come as my guest to the Ujima studio, I was unprepared for her unassuming eloquence and her passion for pushing ourselves as we get older. “Just keep trying,” she said “and you’ll be surprised what you find you can do.” She was a dream interviewee, thoughtful, fluent and articulate. This was one of the most astonishing and also the most rewarding interviews I’ve ever had the pleasure of conducting.
If you’d like to hear Sandra tell her remarkable story, you can listen by clicking here. The interview starts after our signature tune “we are the Champions” which is 1:04 hrs in.