On May 8th, Jo Schoonbroodt, a 71-year-old from Maastricht, Netherlands, ran a marathon in a breathtaking 2hr 54min 19sec to become the fastest septuagenarian in recorded marathon history. Jo set the new over 70 world record at the Maasmarathon de Visé, on a beautiful cross-border route through the Belgian and Dutch countryside.
“I only started jogging at 36 because my doctor told me I had high cholesterol,” he says, chuckling. “But last year I ran 7,242 kilometres [4,450 miles], which is more than double what I did in my car.”
Incredibly it was Schoonbroodt’s 75th sub-three-hour marathon, and it came only four weeks after his 74th at the Rotterdam marathon. For good measure, the flying Dutchman also holds a number of ultra running records. He is clearly no ordinary Jo. But the secrets of his success might surprise you.
“Most runners train too hard. I do a lot of my training with groups who run very slowly. And then I build on these basics with some faster interval training. But I don’t do the same stupid distance 10 or 20 times – I prefer to have a lot of fun with my running.”
“A lot of people follow a training plan or coach and push on even when their body is saying: ‘No, this is not a good day to do it.’ But if you go out the door and just do what you feel, it’s easier to keep running and stay injury-free.” »
A ‘marathon’ is a long-distance foot race with a distance of 42.195 kilometres (or 26.2 miles).