News & Updates

22 November 2023 • Out of Stadia

Masters sensation Gibbs takes out another global record

Sally Gibbs has developed into a world-class masters athlete after only taking up the sport at the age of 45. Credit: (Alisha Lovrich)

Leading masters athlete Sally Gibbs added another chapter to her remarkable career by smashing the World Masters Athletics W60 10,000m record (subject to ratification) at the Agency Group 10,000m Festival at Newtown Park, Wellington last weekend.

The 60-year-old Whanganui-based athlete shattered the previous mark of Japan’s Mariko Yegeta by almost 20 seconds, covering the 25-lap distance in 37:38.98 to add the W60 world record to the W55 global mark she set coincidentally at the 2019 edition of the Agency Group 10,000m Festival.

Gibbs, who celebrated her 60th birthday in June, has since set New Zealand W60 records for 3000m (11:00.85) and 10km on the road (39:12), but although she targeted the world 10,000m record she admits to having a few doubts in the lead up to the race.

“I wasn’t overconfident, three weeks after the Auckland Marathon (where she placed seventh in 3:03:22) and having struggled with time trials, but the Agency Group 10,000m is the ideal event for a record attempt. There’s so much support and encouragement from the organisers, fellow runners, and the sidelines to help people achieve their goal times.

“I’m very happy – especially because I managed even pace, thanks to the amazing 38-minute group pacer, and felt good all the way. World level records or titles make me very proud to be a New Zealand masters runner. They also make me very grateful for all the support and opportunities I have.”

Only taking up the sport aged 45, Gibbs has more than made it for lost time racking up a slew of masters records and titles and also impressing in the open category. Since 2011 she has claimed national senior medals in the 5000m and 10,000m on the track as well as in mountain running and over 10km, half marathon and marathon on the road. One of her biggest accomplishments came in 2014 when aged 50 she claimed victory in the 50th edition of the Rotorua Marathon.

Now aged 60 she has fresh motivation as she is among the youngest in her age group, and while she has inevitably slowed a little in recent years, she is still racking up some astounding times under the coaching guidance of Barry Magee, the 1960 Olympic marathon bronze medallist.

“Barry has described the programmes he gives me as “80 percent Lydiard, ten percent Barry and 10 percent God. It’s a great fit,” she explains.

“However, I don’t run 100 miles a week (traditionally the Athur Lydiard training base). Distance can vary from about 90 to 150km, depending on the training phase and race goals. I’ve reduced the high end a bit in the last year, as it seemed I was getting injured after several consecutive high mileage weeks.”

Slowly returning to form following an ankle injury earlier this year, Sally next looks to target a podium spot in the W60 category at the iconic Boston Marathon in April.

***The world record performance of Sally in Wellington is subject to ratification.