Meet Harriette Thompson. The 91-year-old runner finished Sunday’s San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in 7 hours, 7 minutes and 42 seconds, which is a new U.S. single age group record, according to Runner’s World.
Thompson also set a world record for the fastest marathon ever by a woman 90 years or older. The previous mark was 9 hours, 53 minutes by Gladys Burrill at the 2010 Honolulu Marathon. Burrill was 92 at the time. S Running on behalf of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training, over the course of 15 years, this grandmother has run more than 390 miles (393 to be exact!) at the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon and has raised more than $90,000 for the organization.
“I can’t believe how big a deal they’re making over me,” the North Carolina resident told The Charlotte Observer. “I felt like a queen for a day.” It’s an impressive crown to wear Thompson’s average pace – 16 minutes, 20 seconds per mile – surpasses the walking speed of a typical healthy adult. She said she wasn’t able to train as much as she would have liked because she recently finished up radiation treatment to treat squamous cell carcinoma
Actually, Thompson thought the first 13 miles were pretty easy.
“It wasn’t until around the 17th mile that I was going uphill, and I was thinking, ‘Oh, I wonder if I’m gonna make this,’ ” she told the Observer. “But the last few miles, I didn’t mind at all.” A former concert pianist who played at Carnegie Hall three times, Thompson dealt with drudgery of the marathon not by listening to the rock n roll bands spread across the course but by mentally playing old piano pieces she had performed in the past.
When she finished, she said she was looking forward to showering and taking a nap. The next day, she would celebrate her 67th wedding anniversary with her husband, Sydnor, 90, at home. Thompson said she doesn’t think age should be a barrier for beginning exercise. “You’re never too old to do it,” she said. “I started my first marathon at 76.” I think I have a new role model. You can contribute to Thompson’s Team in Training fundraising effort at this link. Image courtesy of the Competitor Group, Inc