Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 146, Nov 2021 November 2021 | Page 19

Deirdre on Expresso

Deirdre on Expresso

This interview with Deirdre was done by the Expresso Show team in October 2020 , just after her 89th birthday .
up to that point , it ’ s as if she has made a full transition from musician to athlete .
The shift between her past and present is evident by a quick walk through her house . Next to the lounge , where the pianos look to have been pushed aside , is her late husband ’ s office , a room which is now covered in medals . Transformed into a trophy room of sorts , Deirdre ’ s impressive medal collection is a reflection of how quickly she has become entrenched in the Central Gauteng road running scene , having received hundreds of accolades at races over the last decade or so .
At first , she tried to keep the medals in some sort of order , but now there are too many and she admits she just hangs the new ones where she can find a gap . Of course , there would be more medals – a lot more – if Deirdre wasn ’ t the finest example of a late bloomer . Not much of an athlete for most of her life , it was for health reasons that she took up the sport of running at the age of 78 .
Diagnosed with osteoporosis , Deirdre initially tried medication , but it made her feel ill . “ That approach wasn ’ t for me ,” she says as a matter of fact , adding that her doctor then suggested that she have an operation , but the mother of four had previously
Deirdre on the run , being filmed by Carte
Blanch for a recent television interview
undergone spinal surgery and she wasn ’ t eager for another procedure under the knife . Desperate to find a different solution , she tried various forms of exercise , but none of them clicked . “ Yoga and Pilates were too slow for me , and I didn ’ t like them much ,” she says .
Meanwhile , her youngest son , Richard , had taken up running , and Deirdre decided to also give it a go . “ I started running as well – not running with Richard , but copying him – and I enjoyed it ,” she says . Soon after that , she saw an advert for the Valentine ’ s 10km night race , so she asked Richard if he wanted to take part . He agreed to join her at the event – her first road race – and she was bitten by the bug . “ I thought it was fun , and I seemed well able to cope with the running , so I started entering other races as well . There are a lot of races around Johannesburg and Pretoria to keep me busy , and now I still run as many races as I can , because I enjoy them immensely .”
Popular Character
Since then , Deirdre has meticulously recorded all her training and racing in logbooks , becoming as dedicated to her progress in the sport as she was to her music career . Though she runs or walks five
Still cruising at 90 !
days a week , and trains on her own , there is more to running for Deirdre than the simple act of exercising . She says that while the physical aspects of the sport have no doubt played a key role in improving her health , and preventing her from undergoing surgery again , it is the social aspect of running that she enjoys the most , along with the mental benefits .
A regular at local road races in Gauteng , along with her daughter Catherine – who is also no slouch as an age group athlete – Deirdre has become a popular character in the sport , and she is an honorary life member of Randburg Harriers . However , with races shut down last year due to the COVID pandemic , she wasn ’ t able to add to her medal tally , and she relied on club runs to stay in touch with the road running community .
No longer a member of Randburg , she now competes in the colours of Run Zone , where she recently signed up as a club ambassador . And with races resuming as we emerge from the national lockdown , Deirdre says the social atmosphere at Run Zone has provided her with renewed energy . “ They ’ re always trying