PROFILE--South African Brian Chamberlain hit 5DS3 in 2000, and ran a 3:45 marathon last year at 70

Brian Chamberlain on right. Tim Noakes, left;
Johnny Halberstadt, center.
(Jan. 2020) Brian Chamberlain is a member of the 5DS3 group (5 Decades Sub 3 Marathon), but he got there earlier than most. Chamberlain ran his first sub 3 marathon (just barely) in 1967 when he clocked a 2:59:49 in a Johannesburg marathon. A decade later, he hit his personal best, 2:15:25. And in 2000, Chamberlain achieved his fifth decade with a 2:46:46. Now 70, he ran 3:45 last year to place second in his age-group in the South African marathon championships. These days, the two-time winner of the famous Two Oceans Marathon (32 miles; Chamberlain ran 3:15:22 in his first win, and 3:15:23 in his second the next year; consistent?), mixes canoe and
kayak racing with his running. Others told him life was all downhill after age 60. His response: "I love downhills."

Career/Profession? I have been in IT all my life.  I started work in 1972 and retired officially in 2014, but still contract 4 mornings a week.  My work did allow me some flexibility for training, except when there were project deadlines.

When and why did you start running? I started when I was a kid. I wasn't very fast and always felt that if we ran further I could do better.  In my final school year we had a teacher that was passionate about cross country, and he passed that passion on to me.

How much did you run in your peak years? All my distances are in kilometers. I found that for a Standard marathon, 140 kms per week was optimal.  I believed in training as fast as my body could take, so when I ran more than 140, my training slowed.  I only reached 4000 km in a year once.  I found that having a break every year helped to build my strength for the next year's training.
Chamberlain on right.

What were some of your top race performances or proudest achievements? My marathon best of 2:15:25 in 1978 stands out, but probably my best race was in a 32km race in Puerto Rico in 1975.  I finished second behind Bill Rodgers a couple of months after he won his first Boston title.  It was insanely hot and humid, so my time of 1:45 was not significant, but I did beat a number of athletes who had much faster marathon times than me.
My PRs for 10km, 21km and 42km are 30:53, 1:06:00 and 2:15:25
For over 40, they are 33.20, 1:10 and 2:28
For over 50, 35:44, 1:17 and 2:46
For over 60, 40:21, 1:29 and 3:42
For over 70, 46.22, 1:41 and 3:42.

Can you estimate your total lifetime miles? I logged all my training except in my school years and in 1983 when I decided to stop being competitive (but I still ran because I enjoyed it).  My total up to the end of 2019 was 102,336 kms.

How much are you running and cross-training now? I still run up to 50 kms a week, but only about 1000 to 1500 a year.  About 25 years ago I started doing quite a bit of canoeing/kayaking.  In South Africa, river races are quite popular using fibreglass boats (or kevlar if you are rich).  So I did a number of those races, often 2 or 3 day races.  I stopped doing races when I was about 63, but still paddle around the local dam.  It helps work the upper body a bit.  I also have a mountain bike which I use occasionally and have done some races up to 100kms. 

Any recent race results? My recent 3:42 marathon placed me 2nd in the 70+ age group at the South African marathon championships.  I also came 2nd in the South African cross country championships. 
Accepting trophy long ago.

Does it bother you that you are slower now? In my 40s it was hard to come to terms with aging, but now I'm cool with it.  I have always maintained that you shouldn't run if you don't enjoy it for its own sake.  I had a bit of extra enthusiasm in the last year when I turned 70, just to see what I could do. But my expectations remained low, so I wasn't disappointed. I live in a fantastic climate, the temperature doesn't get below 0 or above 32 and I find that I just want to get out into the parks or down the river.  I just enjoy it. 

How have your diet and weight changed through the years? I believe in a balanced diet - protein, fruit, veg, grain, carbs, a bit of fat, some iron, some salt.  I weighed 68 kgs when I was 20. I still weigh 68 kgs.  I eat more carbs if I am training hard, and less when I stop.

Injuries or health issues through the years? I have had no real health issues.  I hurt my Achilles tendon in my mid-30s and had an operation to remove the scar tissue.  I was out of running for about 6 months, and it took anther 6 months to gradually get back to where I was.  My motto is rest before you have to.

Any favorite quotes? My favourite quote, attributed to Noureddine Morceli, is: "The night before a race, my mind is full of doubt.  Who will come second, who will come third?" A lovely tongue-in-cheek quote, but saying, don't be nervous, be confident. 

What three tips might you offer other hopeful lifetime runners? I've probably already said it, but
1. Enjoy your running
2. Rest before you have to.
3. Listen to your body.

How does running & fitness improve your life? It is the number one stress reliever. If you reduce stress, it helps with other things like heart disease.

What are the biggest lessons you have learned from running? 
Running taught me how to deal with life. i.e. set your targets, and work towards them. Running also gave me confidence.  When I achieved things in running, I believed in myself a whole lot more.
Others told me when I turned 60 that life was all downhill from there.  I love downhills.