A marathon at 72

A marathon at 72


“I am the Dominique Michel of marathons.” A bit like the famous Quebec humorist multiplied the false goodbyes to “Bye Bye”, Richard Pouliot is unable to abandon one of his greatest loves: running. 

Age of 72 years old, the native of Saint-Constant participated in his 40th event of 42.195 kilometers on Sunday. He achieved this feat at the event where it all began for him in 1981: the Montreal Marathon.

This is the 12th time that the former telecommunications engineer has taken up the challenge of the twists and turns of the Quebec metropolis. The 2022 edition is however particularly dear to him, since he is accompanied by his 42-year-old daughter, Geneviève.

“I did not convince her, she convinced me, says he at the end of the line. At 72, I may not have another 20 [marathons] left. This year, she was ready. It's his first. It's going to be exceptional.”

“In 2019, she ran the half-marathon and that brought us quite a bit closer. It is exceptional as a “feeling”. I can't wait to see her [at the finish line]. I am so proud.”

A proud athlete

Although he is in great shape and in good health, Richard Pouliot is well aware that a person's ability to recover drops as they age.

Without playing the prophet of doom, the holder of a third dan black belt in taekwondo waiting until he sustains a serious injury before hanging up his sneakers?

“That's probably it,” he replies with disarming honesty. My daughter would tell you: I am the Dominique Michel of marathons. There's pride behind that.”

“I knock on wood, but I've never had any serious injuries. But obviously, after 42 km, we're all a little messed up.”

A calculated risk

Contrary to what you might think, it is not necessarily risky to complete a marathon for a person of the golden age… provided that his body is accustomed to living under such stress.

“For someone who is used to running, who has run a good part of his life, there is no dangerous age to do a marathon. You can do a marathon at 70, at 80, that's not a problem,” explains the founder of La Clinique Du Coureur, Blaise Dubois.

“What is problematic and potentially difficult is It's starting to run at a later age, especially if you don't have optimal cardiovascular health.”

According to the physiotherapist specializing in running, the “injury incidences” for a young adult are even greater than for an elder.

It was not so at all for a runner like Richard Pouliot, who also crossed the finish line in 3 h 36 min.

“He got used to it and for him, it will be a detail to do this race, advances Blaise Dubois. His body is already adapted, his cartilage is already strong, his bones are very strong.”

“It's probably the best sport to practice as you get older. There is a panoply of pathologies that are reduced by running.”

For the love of running

Richard Pouliot will perhaps to be smaller distances in the next few years, but he wants to convince other “young people” like him to tie their shoelaces.

“I think of young people, people of 40 years old, 50 years old, 60 years, it's never too late to run. You don't have to do a marathon. I have respect for anyone who runs.”

“You have to like it, but it doesn't cost much,” he concludes with a chuckle.