The race has no age. And from the top of her 83 years, Barbara Humbert is the proof. Originally from Eaubonne (Val-d'Oise), the octogenarian will set off on Sunday April 2 to attack his 56th marathon, his 15th on the Parisian asphalt. From Oslo to Athens, via New York or Istanbul, Barbara has traveled the world to live her passion: running. Le Point met her a few days before the start of the Paris Marathon, of which she will be the oldest.
She rarely goes unnoticed on the starting line. "I'm starting to stress a bit," she admits shyly. "But everything will be better once in the starting hatch." Like great artists, Barbara is not spared stage fright. However, the great-grandmother follows a meticulous preparation: "I train daily without stopping and I mentally condition myself before the races. In the evening, when I go to bed, I visualize the course to better prepare for the event. »
However, if Barbara dedicates her life to running today, it is late (at 43 years old) that the Valdoisienne discovered the discipline. A virus transmitted by his eldest daughter who was returning from high school after an endurance session. "Initially, it was more to keep the line, to stay in shape, young and alert", she laughs. "Afterwards, we think a little and we say to ourselves that it is beneficial for the physical and mental balance. And it's been 40 years that the Francilienne has been running tirelessly. A perseverance that allowed him to complete 137 races of less than 40 kilometers, 54 marathons in 10 countries and two 100 kilometers in Millau (at 70 and 80 years old).
Despite the passing years, Barbara keeps her motivation intact: "Running is for me a search for freedom. I like to run where I want, when I want and in any weather. I like to feel nature when I'm in the forest, but also to exchange smiles with the passers-by I meet. It gives me general well-being. And then as I get older, I think it helps to escape the boredom of everyday life that can gradually set in... It's adventure my way! »
An adventure that also gave him the opportunity to travel the world. Barbara remembers in particular Athens and her arrival in the mythical Panathenaic Stadium, Florence and its churches, Venice and its bridges, or even Helsinki and its markets. Without forgetting New York for its 60th birthday, where it won 10th place in its category. To achieve these feats, the octogenarian strives to put on his sneakers every day. "As I get older, I'm more and more conscientious about training. You should never stop so that the recovery is not too hard for the muscles. And this, whatever the weather. But the marathon runner also acknowledges that sometimes it can be "difficult to accept slowing down." “To keep your mental balance in the race, you have to be willing to ease off. It is life that imposes it on us. »
However, Barbara has not completely decided to slow down. Last year, during the French 24 Hour Championships, the octogenarian broke the world record for the Women's Masters 9 (80-84 years) by covering 125.271 km. A feat mentioned by more than 30 international media. "I was very proud to be able to bring this record back to France," she modestly acknowledges. But if there is one race that the octogenarian dreams of completing, it is the Marathon Pour Tous organized for the 2024 Paris Olympics. "I live for this race! It would be a dream to participate for my 60th marathon. "Despite several challenges made to qualify, the Valdoisienne has still not won her bib... There is no doubt, however, that the organization will soon consider her candidacy.