A teenage thief picked on the wrong victim when she tried to run off with a bag belonging to pensioner Jean Hirst - a former championship sprinter.As a 17 year old, she was the Nottinghamshire County Schools 100 yards champion and qualified for the final of All England Schools Championship in Ashington, Northumberland
The schoolgirl was surprised to discover her victim, a former All England Schools championship sprinter, still had a turn of pace - at the age of 72.
As Mrs Hirst gave chase, she soon began to close on the culprit who was forced to throw down the bag in her desperation to escape.
The retired teacher had allowed three teenage girls into her car to help her with directions after getting lost on the way to a theatre.
She was straight out of the starting blocks again, however, when one of them took advantage and tried to make off with her bag.
Mrs Hirst said: "Suddenly I felt 18 again. The adrenaline just kicked in and I seemed to turn back the years.
"She had a head start but I covered 70 yards in about 15 seconds and was within two strides of her when she looked over her shoulder and saw me.
"She probably thought I was an easy target but she shouldn't have judged a book by its cover. The look on her face was one of sheer amazement and she just threw my bag aside."
Mrs Hirst, a widow, from Mansfield, Notts, was able to stop and pick up the bag which she described as containing her "whole life", including her purse, keys and address book.
As a 17 year old, she was the Nottinghamshire County Schools 100 yards champion and qualified for the final of All England Schools Championship in Ashington, Northumberland.
Her latest unscheduled sprint was from the car park of the Duchess Theatre, in Long Eaton, Derbyshire.
She had stopped to ask the three girls, who were aged around 15 or 16, if they knew the way and they insisted on getting into the car to take her there.
When they arrived one of the girls asked for 20 pence and Mrs Hirst realised her bag had suddenly disappeared with one of the back seat passengers who was calling for the others to go with her.
"Then she started running and that's when the fun began. I was not as out of breath as I thought I would be at my age," she said.
When Mrs Hirst returned to the car, the other girls apologised for their friend's actions and she decided against calling the police.
She added: "I just told them to choose their friends more carefully. There was no way I could detain them and at the end of the day I was just glad I had my bag back."
Mrs Hirst, who has two grown up children, was later rebuked by her daughter who told her the girl could have had a knife or turned aggressive.
She added: "I didn't think of my safety, but I did pay for it a little the next day. I was covered in aches and pains and my daughter turned to me and said it was because I didn't warm up properly."
Haris: My previous post regarding pace and age - Only mind is our barrier.