Athletics News

Helen Gaunt aims to inspire women of all ages

Helen Gaunt aims to inspire women of all ages

A Q&A with the fastest British masters female athlete at last month’s TCS London Marathon

Helen Gaunt stood on the start line at last month’s TCS London Marathon alongside three out of the four fastest women in history, including world record-holder Tigist Assefa.

As one of 16 women in the elite field, Gaunt was the only female athlete in the 40-44 age category. She more than held her own, running 2:38:40 in blustery conditions – less than ideal to run a quick marathon – on the streets of the British capital.

For Gaunt, a decade on from her first London Marathon, it was vindication of her decision to start running over 26.2 miles in her 30s.

After having just represented England and finishing third at the recent Great Birmingham 10km, Gaunt is now plotting her next major goal and is targeting a sub-2:30 marathon towards the end of 2024.

Her personal best over 26.2 miles is the 2:35:38 she recorded at the 2023 London Marathon. All of this is after having three kids, including two twins.

Gaunt wants to inspire women of all ages and in a Q&A with AW, opens up about how she has overcome adversity, her work/life balance and the feeling of being in the elite field for the first time at the recent London Marathon.

Helen Gaunt (Getty)

How did your journey into running begin?

At school I think the PE teachers suspected some ability, they tried to encourage me a few times to join the running and hurdles squad. But I was self-conscious about being naturally slight and a late developer, I didn’t want to do something my friends weren’t into for fear of standing out.

My younger sister Susan ran cross country for English Schools and my dad was a runner too, picking it back up as a veteran with the local Harriers and making the podium in his races.

Then, later on life?

I got into running in my 30s and a friend twisted my arm to do a few races – it all started with Race for Life (where I came third!) followed by a Clapham 10km and then Silverstone Half-Marathon. I really got into the half-marathon training and saw potential to get quicker. Another friend encouraged me to join Serpentine Running Club, which is where I met my husband Martin – he’s run an impressive 16 marathons including 13 consecutively in London.

His personal best is 2:35:56 which I narrowly beat by 18 seconds last year! Our kids Sam, Izzy and Benjy are already getting competitive themselves, chasing their own PBs at Tonbridge parkrun.

I ran my first marathon right back in 2012 BC…

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