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Q&A with Madonna Boclair Hanna

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

Madonna Boclair Hanna

Competitive Amateur Sprinter, National Senior Games Gold Medalist

By Marguerite Cleveland| Photo by In-Gear Media

Senior phenom Madonna Boclair Hanna, age 70, won the gold medal in the 4x100 relay at the National Senior Games. She also posted her personal best qualifying for the 50-meter finals for the first time and finishing fifth. In the 100-meter event she finished in fifth, moving up two spots from last year. Madonna is a competitive amateur sprinter. She came to the sport later in life, pursuing a dream she held from childhood. Madonna has a background in fashion and is a retired award-winning educator. Today, in addition to her athletic career, she is a public speaker and actor.

Q. Your husband was your first coach and trained you for your initial success in running. What is it like to now train with pro-runner and Olympic hopeful Marcus Chambers and have the latest insight and fitness technology available?

A. Believe me, at my age, I am extremely fortunate to be coached by Marcus Chambers. His knowledge of sprinting and appropriate lifting workouts is a gift and blessing to me. At first, when the coaching baton was passed to him, I found the workouts to be extremely different and difficult. Jogging with a backpack filled with bricks and wearing ankle weights training with my husband garnered me 13 Washington State Senior Games (WSSG) medals and one National Senior Games (NSG). Chambers’ constant drilling was grueling! I almost quit … after all, this is a hobby!

I knew better, I am not a quitter! I mentally slapped some sense into myself and persevered, respecting the coach’s expertise. I realized that accepting change comes with accepting a new attitude. Marcus is teaching me the mechanics of competitive sprinting and has assembled an impressive team of professionals to assist me. My fitness trainer/physical therapist Eric Waterland, Waterland Performance, and Todd Valentine, therapeutic massage therapist, Elite Massage and Fitness. I stay physically prepared for competitions by listening to and following their instructions.

Chambers is helping me to be more competitive at the national level. During the 2022 NSG, I competed in my first 100-meter finals, posting a new personal best and moved up in national rankings from 17th to seventh! In four years, we have achieved six WSSG medals (two silver and four gold) and a 4x100-relay race NSG silver medal and a 100-meter seventh-place ribbon.

Q. Red, white and blue have become your signature colors. Are there any plans to combine your love of fashion and running into a brand or product?

A. I have no plans yet, but now I know that absolutely anything is possible! I would love to collaborate with a major athletic, leisure wear firm or designer. The boomer active wear market is exciting and growing. It would use my extensive fashion expertise. In the past I was a corporate retail executive at a major department store in downtown Boston. Later, I worked at the corporate headquarters for a national women’s apparel manufacturer as an assistant fashion merchandiser for their misses division and was also an assistant to the public relations director. I’m also familiar with production, design and marketing. I was also a runway model and coordinated fashion shows. I am a retired fashion marketing instructor with 32 years of experience. Presently, I enjoy mentoring a few young local designers. By the way, I do have another signature fashion color, black and luscious shocking pink, a favorite of the late fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli.

Q. How does it feel to be a role model for the over-50 crowd?

A. I feel fortunate to be able to inspire, empower and motivate the over-50 crowd to believe that anything is possible, and it’s never too late to participate in an active and fitness lifestyle. I greatly appreciate the support and camaraderie of USATF Masters champion, Tacoma resident Martha Mendenhall, who refers to me as a “Senior Phenom.” What a compliment. She’s an inspiration and role model to me!

I am grateful to be able to participate in the Washington State Senior Games (WSSG) since 2011 and the National Senior Games (NSG) since 2013. The 2023 NSG [marked] my fourth trip to nationals. I appreciate the support of my fellow competitors.

Because of my interview on the Today Show, originally aired on MLK Jr. Day and re-aired on June 19 as part of a Juneteenth Special, and being a freelance writer for the Ethel, an AARP online publication, has expanded my circle of influence to motivate seniors and other individuals at the national level.

Q. You just signed your first brand deal. How does it feel to be a 70-year-old representative of this company?

A. It feels fabulous to be valued and appreciated! I’d like to share that living life agelessly is liberating, and I truly believe that absolutely anything is possible. I was offered sponsorship from GetSetUp, an online community of older adults who want to learn, connect with others and unlock new life experiences. The platform offers interactive classes taught by peers around the clock.

Through their sponsorship, I received a $1,000 stipend to help with training and competition expenses, and a full GetSetUp branded kit, symbolizing unity and empowerment. Plus, I will gain exclusive access to GetSetUp's innovative online platform to share my stories, insights and training techniques with a global audience through online classes, videos, and as an ambassador at the National Senior Games and with media.

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