Priscilla Welch – 1987
What does an unemployed and bored ex-petty officer do after retiring from the British Royal Navy at age 36? She takes up marathon running of course. Priscilla was a one-kilometer neophyte when she made that 1980 decision. Less than three years later she won her first marathon title in Holland. By 1984 she was on the British Olympic Team, qualifying with second place in the London Marathon.
In the Summer Games at Los Angeles, her sixth-place 2:28.54 clocking was a British record for the 26.2-mile distance. The time remained the late-bloomer’s personal best until May 1987 when she astonished the universe with a World Masters record only seven women of any age had eclipsed. The stunning 2:26:51 performance in her third London Marathon attempt was second only to overall winner Ingrid Kristiansen’s pace, just six seconds off the World open standard and nearly an hour faster than her inaugural 1980 effort.
In November 1987, the transplanted Brit padded her credentials with one of the world’s most famous titles. Running in the 26th marathon of her then 8-year-old career, she surpassed a world-class field with an unchallenged 2:30:17 to become the oldest female champion in the history of the New York City Marathon.
Priscilla’s still based in Boulder, where she and her ex-military husband/coach moved in 1985. Her emphasis now is on shorter distances but her enthusiasm hasn’t waned.