Camille Herron, who we all know by now has broken her own 100-mile record at age 40, was recently quoted as saying “Women ultra runners age like fine wine.” In the SW Missouri Ozark, where there is no shortage of female trail runners of all ages and abilities, a unique brand of girl gang is taking that sentiment to heart and using it to navigate the furious 50’s and beyond. Tackling everything from menopause to parenting adult children, caring for aging relatives, and managing their own injuries and health challenges, the OSBs (Old Slow Broads) are taking it to the trail and embracing the joy in the journey, at any pace.
“The essence of an OSB is being true to who you are, knowing you’re worth through yourself and loving yourself exactly where you are right now.” says Cindy, 54, a rancher who has completed up to 100k with her faithful dog Miles. Cindy recently underwent a complete meniscus reconstruction that failed to slow her down much. While recovering, she spent many long hours volunteering at races around the region. Don’t ask her opinion if you don’t really want it. She is honest, irreverent, and as salt-of-the-earth as they come. “A lot of runners say they’re old and slow as they leave you in the dust… we really are, and we don’t give a f*&k. We embrace it and enjoy the ride.”
Stephanie, 52, agrees. “My father-in-law used to say, “every day is a good day”, no matter what trials he was facing, and there were many. Our happy place is on the trails with our best friends. We can crush some miles; we just take longer doing it. We’re slow but we’ll stay out there all day and sometimes all night. Races are fun, but the best time is when we’re not chasing any cut-off but our own.”
Adventure is the name of their game. There is rarely a new trail explored that doesn’t involve some level of navigation malfunction or other self-imposed shenanigans. Karen, 55, who in her time off trail is heavily active in CrossFit and fostering rescue dogs (and has 6 of her own), has coined the group’s motto, “we won’t die–probably”. Karen is often the steadfast, level-headed voice of reason of the four, attributes that have on more than one occasion proven essential.“
It’s about giving each other encouragement to step out of our comfort zones, to do things you didn’t think you could. It’s about knowing when we fail, we succeed because we have each other. It’s about a common love of the trail and running in whatever form that takes for each of us.”
Angie, 51, echoes these sentiments. Newly widowed, she discovered in early 2021 that she would have to undergo double mastectomy, breast reconstruction and hysterectomy due to testing positive for the BRCA1 gene, all without the love of her life and husband of 27 years there to support her. The OSB tribe has meant the world to her during these trials. “We are sisters who aren’t sisters, but love and care for each other like we are blood, challenging each other just to keep moving forward and enjoy life.” she says.
Enjoying life is exactly what the girls have planned for this year. The highlight being an extended trip through Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. In June to fast-pack part of the CDT through the Wind River Range and to participate in the River of No Return race in Challis, ID. Local races will fill the rest of the year either running or volunteering, but the four are not short on big goals. They all have ultras planned for fall and are planning on completing the Grandmasters 100 together next February. “I’ve heard a lot of people say that making friends is more difficult the older you get,” says Stephanie. “To them I would say, keep trying! Don’t ever let age be a limiting factor in anything you do. You never know–the best friends you’ve ever had in your life may be out there waiting to be found, and they will make your life and your heart full. This I know.”