Inspiration for the new year: Ginette Bedard, the 75-year-old marathon runner

I don’t know how Ginette Bedard does it.

Every day, she walks out the door of her Long Island home, heads to a nearby beach, and runs for at least three hours – somewhere between 16 and 18 miles. That's every day, rain or shine, no matter how cold or how warm it is… 365 days a year.

Oh yeah, and she’s 75 years old.

Bedard runs for a lot of reasons: to have the quality of life that being fit brings her, to avoid the guilt she feels if she cuts her three-hour daily run short, and to train for the marathons that she started doing when she was 69 years old. (Yes, 69.)

I interviewed her about a year and a half ago and came across the audio file this morning as I was working on one of my new year’s resolutions: to keep my computer files cleaned out and better organized. (The resolution ranks right up there with “work out more often,” although I don’t see a three-hour daily run in my future anytime soon.)

Listening to Bedard, I found myself shaking my head – again – at her achievements. Not only does she run for three hours every day, but she runs on sand, in order to have a harder workout, burn more calories, and protect her joints. Because the strip of beach that she runs on is about a half-mile long, that means she does 32 to 36 passes on that same strip, up and back, day in and day out.

She’s got all kinds of accomplishments under her (tiny) belt, including holding the U.S. marathon record for women in the 70-74 age group (03:46:03). It’s assumed she’s the fastest female marathoner in her age group in the world, but apparently records aren’t kept for that.

And she occasionally takes on other challenges, like doing the Empire State Building Run-Up which, just like the name suggests, consists of running up the 86 floors of the Empire State Building (nearly 1,600 steps). When she was 72, she did it in 22 minutes, beating all the men in her age group. (She had no female age-group competitors.) She’s scheduled to do the Run-Up again next month and is the oldest woman competitor entered in the race.

In this excerpt of our conversation, Bedard – who was born in France and lived in Canada before settling with her husband in New York – talks about what makes her different from most people, how fitness guru Jack LaLanne influenced her, what she eats (I had to ask), and what she sees for her future.

Here’s to an inspired new year for all of us!

Ginette Bedard interview excerpt (runs 2:29)

[When you click on the link, a new window will open and the audio will start playing automatically. Depending on your connection speed, that could take anywhere from a few to several – seemingly very long – seconds.]