A 74-year-old ultra marathon runner from Belper has been presented with a national award for courage in later life as he gears up for his next run across a Chilean desert.
Bill Mitchell won the ‘active ager’ prize at the Amplifon Awards for Brave Britons, announced at a ceremony in London on Tuesday, October 16.
Bill said: “I was elated. To get nominated for an award like this by people you’ve never met in your life is amazing. It’s a great feeling — just like finishing a marathon.
“I have a motto – never say you’re too old. For me age is only a number, you just have live your life.”
Bill started running aged 63 after the trainer in his regular holiday hotel gym noticed a decline in Bill’s fitness over the previous year.
He has since clocked up 227 races including 157 marathons and ultra-marathons.
Most impressive of all, in 2016 he became the oldest Briton ever to finish the Marathon des Sables, a 156-mile race across the Sahara Desert, generally considered the toughest in the world.
In doing so, he beat Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ age record by seven months.
The award judges said: “Bill was chosen as the winner because his massively increased activity in his silver years have been life-changing.
“Even now his targets are set higher and higher every day. A true inspiration to the millions who think life is all over at 65.”
Bill has no plans to slow down any time soon and is already training for his next intense challenge – the 155-mile Atacama Crossing in Chile.
It will take him seven days to cross terrain including 1,683 metres of ascents, salt flats and sand dunes.
The Brave Briton awards were set up by global hearing aid retailer Amplifon in honour of the company’s founder, Major Charles Holland, who was honoured for his bravery in the Second World War.
This year’s overall winner was Freya Lewis, 14, a survivor of the 2017 terrorist attack on the Manchester Arena, who has learned to run again and raised £60,000 for the hospital where she received 70 hours of life-saving surgery.