Meet Taunton’s 85-year-old ultramarathon runner

  • You can watch our full interview with Paul here

An 85-year-old from Taunton is taking on an impressive fitness challenge. 

Paul Youd started running in his 40s but then gave up after six weeks due to knee pain.

However, in his 60s Paul went vegan and found that his arthritis “disappeared” which triggered him to start exercising again.

However, it was decades before he took up running again. Paul said: “About four years ago I started running round the dining table chasing my five-year-old grandson and I thought ‘my knees aren’t hurting’ so when lockdown came along I thought ‘maybe I can come out of this with a new skill’”. 

What followed was months of Paul running around a track in his garden, and then he discovered ultramarathons. These races are anything more than 31 miles/50 km and now he’s regularly completing these long-distance races. 

Paul said his arthritis "disappeared" when he went vegan Credit: Paul Youd

He said: “I was hooked, I became addicted to them. I’m pretty determined, once I decide to do something I tend to stick to it.” 

If running ultramarathons wasn't enough, Paul is also in the middle of a challenge where he’s aiming to do one million press-ups before his 90th birthday (28 September 2027) and 100 ultramarathons before his 100th birthday. 

So far he’s done nine ultramarathons and each year is completing three in-person races and three virtual races. His next in-person race is the South West Coast 50 in August. Paul is also planning on doing a virtual race down the South American peninsula later this year. 

Paul said: “I represent a demographic that doesn’t really get out there that much. We can all do more than we think we can.” 

He’s also an ambassador for Running On Plants - a 30-day challenge where participants do a 5k run at the start of the month, then follow practical advice and guidance, a full training plan, along with nutritional tips and recipes. At the end of the month, participants will do another 5k and compare results.   

Paul is fundraising for vegan Bristol-based charity Viva. So far he’s raised about £2,000. You can support him by donating here.