Collette, 73-year-old mother of five, is now preparing to reach her thousandth event, hopefully in Dublin next year, continuing to prefer a simple menu over the superfood diet of modern runners: a glass of red wine and a bowl of vinegar-soaked chips. “I started running before superfoods and protein was a thing,” she explained. “We were lucky to get half of a Mars bar into us along the route. I’m not a big eater. I do eat chocolate and I eat healthy, but the protein bars and shakes don’t work for me. They work for others but just not for me. My friends know that I just love one glass of wine after a marathon and if I get a bowl of chips, that’s even better. My friends would laugh and say don’t give vinegar to Collette for the chips because you’ll never get it back. I just love vinegar on chips with maybe a little bit of salt or mayonnaise.”
Collette finished her 899th marathon on Saturday night at Baronscourt Estate in Omagh, then her 900th the next day. “When I finished my 800th, I set my sights to reach the 1000th, which I’d like to complete in my 75th year next year in Dublin, where I ran my first ever marathon.”
She thinks she has completed another 100 virtual marathons but doesn’t count these as they cannot be verified. “Even though my Garmin watch might have recorded the distance, who is to say that I didn’t give my watch to someone else to run for me. I prefer to only count the official ones.
I put a lot of work into the marathons. I don’t drive, so I have to get buses or wait ages or trains or rely on lifts from family and friends. I’ve even ran half-marathons and 10k events wearing a boot or on crutches after I smashed my metatarsal in my food. There’s no stopping me.
But I get a lot back from running. I’ve made fantastic friends along the way and have a great camaraderie with them, and it all keeps me focused. And now I’m focused on the big one, which please God I’ll be celebrating finishing with a glass of red wine in 2024.”