In the past when you thought about a woman in her nineties, knitting needles and rocking chairs may have come to mind.
But you can forget about all of that. These days, there’s a whole new breed of active seniors who are breaking all the rules and conquering uncharted territory.
Harriette Thompson is one example. At age 92, she became the oldest woman ever to complete the 26.2 miles at the Rock N Roll Marathon in San Diego.
A resident of a Charlotte, North Carolina retirement community, Thompson began running marathons at age 76. She always liked to remain fit, and she figured she’d try a marathon even if she had to walk the entire way.
“Everybody was running [when her first race started], so I decided well, I guess I’ll run, too,” she told Duncan McFadyen of WFAE radio. “And it didn’t seem — at that time, it wasn’t so bad.”
An Indomitable Spirit
Thompson, a mother of five, ran to benefit The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She finished the marathon in 7 hours, 24 minutes and 36 seconds. She ran the marathon along side her 56-year-old son Brenny who snapped photos and uploaded videos along the way.
Her 2014 time of 7:07:42 is a world record for a woman in her age group. Harriet is a former concert pianist, cancer survivor and no doubt, a force to be reckoned with.
Since she began running marathons, she has only missed one, when she was going through cancer treatment. She has lost family, friends and most recently her husband to cancer. “That makes it personal, something I think is really important” she told Runner’s World Magazine.
Prior to the race, she was asked about what shape she was in. She had missed some training while caring for her husband who died in January. She was also recovering from radiation treatments for squamous cell carcinoma on her legs.
“I’m sure all that weakened me to some extent, so I’m not as strong as I’d like to be but I’m still going to try,” she said. “I’m just going to walk real fast and then run some, and just try not to wear myself down too fast. It’ll be sort of interesting. I’ll be the most surprised person if I finish it. I hope I will!”
Of course, we all know she had nothing to worry about. And we’re hoping Harriette will continue her marathon running for more years to come.
She needn’t look too far for inspiration. Faujah Singh completed his last marathon at the Hong Kong Marathon on February 24, 2013. He was just a few weeks shy of his 102nd birthday.
Here's a video of her beating the marathon finish line.
Photo source: running.competitor.com.
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