Marathon record breaker Jenny dies at the age of 99

Jenny Wood Allen, who became an inspiration for older people across the UK through taking part in London Marathons in her 80s and 90s, has passed away at the age of 99.

Bitten by the marathon bug during the early 80s running boom, Jenny entered the 1983 Dundee Marathon at the age of 71, but complained that she "couldn't find anyone slow enough" to train with her.

It was the beginning of a new life for the pensioner, however, who became famous around the world for her battling performances. Training in her home town of Dundee, she ran with her shopping bag so that people took less notice of her.

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In the 1985 Dundee Marathon, she set a world best for women over 70 with a time of 4 hours 21 minutes - despite warnings from her doctor that it would take her nine hours to complete.

It launched her into the athletics spotlight across Britain and beyond, and she had seldom been out of it since, twice running her way into the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest female marathon finisher, and fastest marathon time for a woman over 70.

She became as much at home in the Christmas Pudding Race in Forfar as she was in the New York Marathon, where she was once sponsored by Sir Richard Branson.

Her 16 London Marathons included the 1996 event in which fellow Dundonian Liz McColgan was first and Jenny was last in a field of 35,000.

She raised over 30,000 for local charities, much of it in aid of the Cancer Research Campaign, a charity that has personal significance for her as she lost her husband Roy to the illness and then her eldest son Graham.

She also raised money for older people's welfare organisations, motor neurone disease and the Sport for the Disabled Association.

Her status made her a national celebrity and she became an acquaintance of many of the country's best-known athletes and media figures who converged on the prestigious event -among them the late athletics commentator Ron Pickering, Sir Jimmy Saville and Gloria Hunniford.

Son Kenneth said his mother would be remembered for her public service and charitable work, but especially because she became an icon for older people. "She showed older people what they could achieve, and that older age shouldn't be seen as a time to stop doing things," he added.

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He had many memories of his mother, but one that typified her was at one of her London Marathons. "She was in her 80s and was knocked over by this big chap on the starting line," he recalled.

"He maybe didn't realise what he had done. But people around my mother picked her up, got her on her feet and she started running."

Jenny passed away on Thursday at Dundee's Royal Victoria Hospital, to which she had been admitted two months ago after falling ill.