VIDEO: 60 is the magic number for runner

A runner from Broadbridge Heath has decided to celebrate her 60th birthday by completing a year-long test of fitness and endurance.

In the 12 months leading up to her 60th in May 2014, Gail Johnson is planning to race 60 10km runs - and finish each in less than 60 minutes.

JPCT 160913 Gail Johnson, 60, is running 60 10km races in a year . Photo by Derek Martin

JPCT 160913 Gail Johnson, 60, is running 60 10km races in a year . Photo by Derek Martin

The challenge means that Gail, who is a postal worker for Royal Mail, is currently running a race most Sundays as well as some week nights.

She is aiming to raise money for local charities St Catherine’s Hospice and Chestnut Tree House.

Gail said: “I don’t class it as difficult.

“For my 50th I did an iron man triathlon, so I thought I would try to do something when I was 60.

“I have done 25 runs, but on one I was nine seconds over 60 minutes so I’m going to re-do it. I promised myself I wanted to do them in less than 60 minutes.”

Gail’s fastest 10km time of the 25 she has run in the last four months is about 51 minutes and 30 seconds, with most of her times ranging between that and 57 minutes.

She has received support from a helpful friend who has run alongside her several times, while she has also been joined on the races by her son and son-in-law.

She said: “Working for Royal Mail, I do a lot of walking - I walk about eight miles a day on my round. I do run sometimes!

“I seem to get over it quite quickly because walking during the day makes it a lot easier.

“I still feel a bit stiff depending on the run, but I just carry on.”

Gail, who enters 10km races all over Sussex, is currently on pace to complete the 60 races before next May - but she has to be if the worst case scenario of an injury is to arise.

However, she is showing no signs of slowing down, winning in her age group at a race in Crawley on Sunday.

The challenge seems simple compared to the iron man she took part in ten years ago - a mammoth race consisting of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and a marathon on foot.

She said: “It was a long day. It took me 14 hours and 23 minutes, which is quite slow in comparison to professionals, but I enjoyed it.”

The charities that Gail is running for are particularly close to her heart - her father was set to go to St Catherine’s Hospice, who attend to terminally ill patients.

And Gail’s grandchildren inspire her to help Chestnut Tree House, who cater for 280 youngsters aged between 0 and 25 with life-limiting conditions.

She added that the charities do ‘absolutely amazing’ work, and it is ‘a very worthy cause’.

Donations for Gail can be made online.