Posted 15th June 2019 – Written by Simon Linklater
Age gets the better of us all eventually. For us runners the fear of our times declining as we get more grey hairs is an inevitable conclusion we have to accept. Or is it?
Step forward Mr Darren Barzee. I think my fellow Hastings Runners would agree he’s bordering on legendary status in our club for his recent achievements. Knowing Darren had run in all 35 Hastings Half Marathons I was surprised to learn he’d only been a member for 4 years.
Not as surprised or impressed as I am with his achievements in the last 6 months, especially at the tender age of 52. For Darren is now producing times that he couldn’t match in his early 20s.
In his 35th attempt at the Hastings Half Marathon he posted a personal best of 1:24:55, finishing 43rd out of 2,716 runners.
Darren was probably less shocked than the rest of us, as in November he finished 3rd in the Beckley 10k in a time of 39:38. This was another PB despite the challenging, undulating nature of the course. It was his best 10k time in 12 years and one which took him totally by surprise.
Trophies quickly followed as he narrowly missed out on the Pier to Pier 16 miler race, when a runner 30 years his junior pipped him 300 meters from home. His time was 27 minutes quicker than the previous year. WOW!
What makes Darren’s recent achievements even more impressive is the fact he’d targeting turning 50 a few years earlier, knowing full well the step up in age category would give him more chance of landing some prizes. But his luck was out. In 2016 he had 3 operations including a hernia which pretty much wiped out his season. Just when he’d hoped to start tasting success, he was left frustrated, watching and marshalling races when all he wanted to do was run.
Darren seriously considered giving up. When he first returned it felt like he’d never run before and was starting all over again. But one crucial bit of advice helped him accept his long road to recover. He was told it would take him a year to rediscover his form. Not only did he do just that but he produced the best results of his life.
There are some factors which have helped. His daughters getting older, combined with wife Krista taking up running have given Darren the opportunity to run more. But it’s all well and good having that opportunity, it’s another thing taking it.
Speaking to Darren I still believe the potential is there to improve further. His long runs are generally 10 miles, he doesn’t work to a set training plan and I was surprised to hear about his complacency when it came to warming up for races. That along with the scope to improve his self talk and who knows what he can achieve as he continues to defy the ageing process.
I feel there is some unfinished business too. Darren has completed 3 Marathons, but admitted he didn’t train properly for them and his best is around the 3 hour 50 mark. Given his recent form there is no doubt he can smash that time if he prepares properly and I fully expect that to happen.
Darren is an inspiration. A runner who has suffered injuries at the worst possible time but bounced back in superb fashion to achieve things he may never have thought possible. So if you find yourself questioning your inevitable decline as you continue to get older, think again. Find that little bit of motivation and believe in yourself.
Oh and wear a pair of lucky shorts on race day. Blue does the trick for Mr Barzee. He’s convinced they make him run better.