SHOUT OUT to...  


I decided to be a runner late in life. Fifty-eight to be exact. I started with local 5K’s, moved up to 10K’s and eventually half marathons. I ran a bunch of half marathons in CA and a few other states as destination races. I swore I would never run a marathon, ever. When I turned 63 that went out the window and I ran CIM in Sacramento. I decided my goal would be to qualify for Boston (for my first marathon?). I missed it by 5 minutes. So close! Of course, when the discount code was sent to all CIM runners I had to sign up. I had 364 days to train. Continued below...

Karen Henderson (forefront)

Long story short, I managed to cut 20 minutes off my finish time and I qualified for Boston in 2016. In 2018 I ran Boston in one of the coldest years ever. 1/3 of all Boston runners dropped due to hypothermia, but I managed to finish with another qualifying time for Boston. The experience was life changing and I loved every minute. I was sold on challenges and that’s when I switched to trails, 50K’s, and beyond.

Most ultra-runners have their glory moments in their 20’s, 30’s, and even as Masters beginning in their 40’s. Compared to 40 I am beyond aged, well, because I am old. I don’t like that word. I can’t embrace that word. But here I am, like it or not. So how do I accept me, old me, almost 70 me, and even worse, realizing I need to wear longer shorts?

I did the math and when I add in a long work week, Saturday long runs, followed by a Sunday run, plus early a.m. weekly runs, it all adds up to being tired. But the sum of the week is positive. Without feeling tired or low, how would we ever enjoy the rested highs! Sometimes I am just not sure, especially when I get up at 4:30 am and stumble to the coffee maker and try to make sense of the morning. But once I am on the trail, as the sunrise breaks before me, I know why - I feel GOOD. I can accept whatever the day may bring. And I remember my mantra: Keep it simple, be consistent, make it fun.

I have had a great 2023 by completing three 50K’s and several other races and distances scattered through my training blocks. I have supportive friends who push me to stay on top of my running game. I completed my USESCA Running Coach Certification and hope to be able to coach runners who are unsure of their potential to reach their potential. And I entered my longest race yet, for next April, a 100K. EEK! What have I done?

Reflecting, I realize I will run as long as my body lets me, no matter what numerical number age has been assigned to me. Life is about how I live, not how old I am. I am shedding the stigma age tries to assign me and enjoy every day and what it brings. Remember the glass is half full so hold your head up, smile, and be proud of whatever distance you push through, walking or running, because you are moving.

Karen Henderson is the current Vice President of the Sierra Trailblazers and co-captain of the Michigan Bluff Aid Station for Western States. She and Erin McCarthy also organized the Let’s Run Nevada County Community Run that will kick off a second year in 2024.