Mrs Hirst gave chase, she soon began to close on the chavette who was forced to throw down the bag in her desperation to escape.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, I was not as out of breath as I thought I would be at my age."
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.
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."