77-year-old Andrea Lennon from Prestwich is reaching her last phase of training as she prepares to tackle the Varadero Half Marathon in Cuba. No stranger to travelling far and wide for races (Andrea has competed in Cambodia and Honolulu), the Cuban event marks another remarkable stage of progress for someone who only took up running in her 50s.
Having started off running from lamp post to lamp post, Andrea gradually increased her runs: first a 5k, then 10k before gradually working her way up to running the full 26 miles. Throughout her training for big events, and particularly the upcoming race in Cuba, she has been supported by her fellow residents at Naseby Court in Prestwich, a sheltered development run by Alpha Living.
Andrea has lived at Naseby Court since 2011 and is a well-loved neighbour in the scheme. She credits the development with giving her confidence and encouragement to take up running again in her later years.
She commented: “I am training three days a week for the Cuba half marathon. A long run on Sundays and Tuesdays and a steady seven miles on Thursdays. I take it nice and slowly and make sure I eat healthily. I have plenty of time to dedicate to training while living here at Naseby Court and I love it."
Andrea is also a parkrun regular and has clocked up over 200 appearences at her favourite Heaton Park event. Her fellow parkrunners recognised Andrea's inspirational qualities with the recent award of their Jim Smith Runner of the Year shield.
Andrea reckons running has made a significant difference to her quality of life and said: “As a child I had a very bad stammer and kept myself to myself a lot. I have found that running has given me so much more confidence. I have a new outlook and I feel great. In the past 20 years I haven’t experienced any problems with my speech.”