I want to be like Betty

Meet Betty. Betty is 70 years young and this weekend, she’ll be running the Umstead 100-mile race in North Carolina. Yes, you read that right–she’s 70 and running a 100-miler.

I met Betty last weekend at the ChiRunning clinic I attended. Betty was one of the instructors who helped out and she amazed us all with her beautiful running form and energy to spare. I was so impressed  that I had to share her story.

Betty wasn’t always the energizer bunny that she is today. Some 40 years ago, Betty was over 200 lbs, a smoker, and lacking the energy to run around with her young daughter. She took up running and made drastic changes to her diet and transformed her life. Since 1988 she’s run 76 half marathons, marathons and ultras on all seven continents. Over the past seven years she’s adopted the chi running technique as well as embraced minimalist shoes.

What’s the secret to Betty’s success? She claims it can be found in her willingness to work long and hard and eat the right things, which has resulted in more than two decades without illness, aches, or pains. In fact, Betty says that she has finished 24 hour races, without rest breaks, with more energy than when she started. Her fitness level can’t be argued, as she has a resting heart rate of just 28 beats, “lower than Lance Armstrong’s at his peak fitness,” she likes to point out.

Betty knows she’s an anomaly among her peers and plans to parlay that into a book and a program called “Runtoahundred.” I know that when that book comes out, I’ll be first in line to buy it. Like I said, when I grow up, I want to be like Betty!

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  1. Fran says

    Betty is impressive! I want to be a bit like Betty when I grow up: meaning that I hope to be as fit and active when I'm 70 too.

    I read an article in the Dutch Runner's World this weekend about a Dutch woman who's 80 years old and still is a running coach. She trains her groups 3 times a week and runs with them on every run. I thought that was impressive too.

  2. Michael says

    Wow, thats an amazing story. Very inspiring. Next time I think I can't do something I need to think about Betty! Thanks for sharing her story with us.

  3. Adrienne says

    Aaaa-mazing!! I love hearing stories like this! Think you could get the hook up on an autographed copy of her book;)!!?

  4. Luke says


    I was going to be a pacer for that race and bailed, I wish I had gone now so that i could have met her after this post!

  5. Michelle says

    Incredible! I will be thinking of Betty on my next long run! And I definitely want to read her book when it comes out!

  6. Lisa {eatprayrun-lisa.blogspot.com} says

    That is absolutely AMAZING!! What an inspiration. It must have been incredible just to be in her presence. The human spirit has unlimited potential and it's nice to get a reminder of that sometimes. GO BETTY!!

    PS Does she blog? ( :

  7. Johann says

    Lovely! That is the type of people that inspire others. I agree, I also want to be able to inspire others.

  8. Jess @ Blonde Ponytail says

    What an inspiration! You meet or find out about the coolest people! Such a picture of health after losing weight and giving up smoking!

  9. Sal says

    wowzers! i wish i could think of something witty or profound to say here, but all i can think is "wowzers!" that's amazing. get it, betty!

  10. Heather says

    Yep, I'd read her book too! What an example she is for what's possible in life and in running…to be happy, healthy and running to 100! love it! she's definitely an inspiration.

  11. Penny says

    Ok I want to be like Betty. Their are somedays I think can I really keep this up till I'm 60 not even 70. I want her genes please.

  12. SupermomE12 says

    She is AWESOME!!!! That is my ultimate goal… to be running lots when I am that age and inspiring others. Thanks for sharing! :)

  13. Joanne says

    I've been reading every book I can get a hold of regarding ultra runners and their stories. If nothing motivates you to get through 3 – 4 hours of a marathon like those folks putting 30 hours on a trail, climbing 9000 feet nothing will.
    I get so inspired by their stories and their will power to continue when faced with every adversity.
    Go Betty! I'll never accomplished what she's done but maybe I'll get half way there :)

  14. Chris K says

    That's crazy. She looks so young. Just think, in 40 years someone will be writing "I want to be like Miss Zippy". She's 70 and just ran the Boston Marathon.

  15. Black Knight says

    Awesome story! …and I am with Chris, someone will be writing "I want to be like Miss Zippy"!!!!