Running is a sport for people of strength, endurance, and determination. Betty Jean McHugh, being the world’s fastest female octogenarian runner that she is, has proved that, as long as your heart beats for it, you can excel in whatever you do, no matter the age.

Born in 1927, Betty Jean McHugh lived in the countryside of Ontario, Canada, as a farmer’s daughter. The family was not rich—they grew crops such as oats, wheat, barley, and corn, for their consumption and for their cows, pigs, horses, and chickens; the excess will be sold in the local market. She attended grade three at the age of six, skipping two grade levels for having mastered her older sisters’ lessons in advance.


The passion for running began not until her early fifties—another proof that it is never too late to realize your potential. She gave up her nursing profession for running. Her late husband was her number one supporter and fan, and their three children and four grandchildren come next in line. Today, BJ is popularly known in the world as the Flying Grannny, having competed and finished more than 30 world races with recognitions.

Now that she is already 86, BJ has no plans of retiring from running yet. As a matter of fact, she has just finished a half marathon last February and is now preparing for the BMO Vancouver Marathon in May. She said, “Every marathon is a journey into the unknown.  You train and train and train again, and think that you are ready. But you never really know how your body is going to fare over 42 kilometres of running.”

Links to Betty Jean McHugh:

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