OMTOM 2018s Oldest Runner Is Ready To Smash It!

79-year-old Brian Key is looking to add his 16th Two Oceans medal to his growing list of achievements this weekend.


RW Editors |

Brian Key is the oldest runner entered into the 2018 edition of the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon. On race day, he’ll be 79. Over the years, he has seen the race go from strength to strength and with it he has learned many running lessons and many life lessons from running.

Regardless of his impressive Blue Number status – 15 Ultra Marathon finishes and counting – Key only took up running in his later years. He admits: “I haven’t always been a runner. I used to be a cyclist before I started running, but I got hit while I was on my bike when I was 53. When I was 58 I finally decided to take up running. It was always in the back of my mind to do a marathon, so it made a lot of sense to me.”

This is going to be his 16th effort at the OMTOM Ultra Marathon. To have returned to the famous tarmac of the world’s most beautiful on so many occasions, there must be something about the race that keeps Key coming back for more.

“The energy just gets better each year too. For me personally, the only real change has been the route. The first time I ran the OMTOM I ran over Ou Kaapse Weg. But thereafter the route once again started going around Chapmans Peak. It’s a beautiful way to run. Some of my other favourite aspects are running into Noordhoek. Coming down there is a very fun and pretty part of the route. Hout Bay too. But the best feelings come when you get to the top of Constantia Nek,” says Key.

The OMTOM Ultra Marathon route is renowned for its beauty, and amongst this beauty lies some of Key’s fondest memories.

“When I was about 71 or 72 and I was racing in the over-70s category. It was about a kilometre from the end and I’d actually managed to pass a guy in the 60s group, so that made me feel really good!

“Another good memory came just a few years ago. I got to the end of the race and I just felt so disappointed. I thought to myself, ‘I can’t believe it’s actually over.’ I was just enjoying myself too much and I didn’t want to stop. Can you imagine thinking that right after you have finished an Ultra Marathon?”

Image by Jetline Action Photo.

To enjoy the virtues of the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon as freely and as easily as Key, an athlete has to put in the hard yards. Over the years, the 79-year-old has picked up a few secrets. With his experience he now has the Key to success, and it starts with thinking.

“Always be positive. Never let the negative thoughts get to you. Don’t think about how far there is to go, think about what you have done, because the negative stuff is just terrible, it drags you down. When it comes to the race itself, try not to go out there too fast.”

Physically speaking: “To prepare for such a big race, I make sure I eat properly. I’m not a big meat eater but I do enjoy fish and I’ve always eaten a lot of it. I think that has done some good for my running.”

For training in general, Key makes sure to follow a program quite closely. “I follow an 18-week programme. A program helps keep you on track and includes very specific training parameters, like hillwork, speedwork and your long weekly runs.”

Mostly though, it’s about having fun. “I think what it comes down to is just letting yourself enjoy the race – so get out there and enjoy.”

As for the future, Key aims to keep enjoying himself at the world’s most beautiful marathon for as long as he can. And if you’re in your 60s, keep a look out over your shoulder.

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