Walpole gran driven by runner’s high

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Jenny Burton running in Walpole.
Camera IconJenny Burton running in Walpole.

Despite having never run competitively in her life until recently, Jenny Burton, a 55-year-old grandmother from Walpole, will compete in a half marathon in Melbourne next week.

She has been training for the big event for the past nine months and is feeling confident.

But her decision to run the half marathon came as a surprise to many, including her family who had never seen her run at any point in her life.

“I was a bit naive with running at first and started running with only an old pair of gym shoes and gym clothes and leggings,” she said.

“After my first running experience I straight away thought — what have I done?

“Mind you, it was after a beer at lunchtime and I felt horrible afterwards.”

But after a week or two of constant training, Ms Burton said she finally found a sense of joy in the struggle.

She developed a passion for running and in the first four months of training she pushed her body to the point where every joint and muscle was in pain for weeks.

Because she lives in a remote part of Walpole with her husband, she often trains by herself, running around the back blocks of her farm and heading out to the winding roads in her hi-vis through rain, hail and shine. She has also lost several toenails to the cause but she does not mind that, as long as she manages to complete her goals of running an extra 500m every week. “When you’re my age, and you’ve never run your whole life, it takes time for your joints to get strong,” she said.

“There would be weeks when I’d cry because I couldn’t walk up the driveway because my ankles were hurting so badly.

“But I kept going and my daughter sent me an exercise bike to keep my fitness up while my joints were healing and getting stronger.”

Jenny Burton with her daughter Sophie at the Bunbury Marathon that she accomplished this year as a trial run.
Camera IconJenny Burton with her daughter Sophie at the Bunbury Marathon that she accomplished this year as a trial run.

Ms Burton said training for the half marathon had given her the kind of joy she had never experienced before.

“Being a grandmother and mother has given me such joy in my life but running has given me a confidence that I never knew I had before,” she said.

She will fly to Melbourne next week to run at the Melbourne half marathon for the first time with her daughter Sophie.

“It’s been quite a journey for my body and for my brain, I never knew how much I would enjoyed running,” she said.

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