The teen was able to free himself and escape.
Janet Lane, 68, said that the boy and two companions approached her as she sat on a bench in a park in the Devon resort of Torquay, The Daily Mail reported. They begged a cigarette and then grabbed her bag.
"I think those boys saw a little old lady and thought I was easy pickings but there was no way I was going to sit there and let them get away with it," she said. "My first reaction was 'they are not having my bag.' I used to be a very good runner when I was younger so I just got up and ran after them," she said.
Lane is diabetic and was wearing sandals, not the best running gear. But she swims regularly and showed she can still put on a pretty turn of speed.
"Generally for safety reasons we do not actively encourage this kind of behavior, as you never know what could happen," a spokesman for the Devon and Cornwall Police said. "But we understand this woman is a former cross country runner and did not feel able to let it go."