The next time you are moaning and groaning about having to run a mile or two at school, be sure to think of 91-year-old Harriet Thompson, who not only completed the San Diego Rock N' Roll marathon on Saturday, May 31st, but also broke two records. What's even more impressive is that she accomplished the feat while still recovering from burns on her legs caused by recent radiation treatments to help treat her skin cancer.
The Charlotte resident who was crowned the oldest runner in this marathon as well as the fastest in the 90-to-94 year-old category, completed the grueling 26.2 mile race in 7hrs 7min 42 secs, shattering the previous record of 8:53:08 set by Mavis Lindgren in 1997. While these are her first records, Harriet, who jogged at a steady pace of 16 mins and 20 seconds a mile, is no stranger to this competition. She has participated in 15 of the last 16 San Diego Rock N' Roll marathons and only missed last year, because she was undergoing treatment for an oral cancer, which she successfully beat.
What's even more amazing is that the grandmother of ten who ran the marathon alongside her 55-year old son Brenny, took up the sport in 1999 at the ripe-old-age of 76! Harriet says that she normally trains with a group. However this year she decided to solo it because she had a hard time keeping up, given that most of them are about 60-70 years younger. Her daily routine comprised of a mix of running, exercising on the elliptical machine and attending the yoga and stretching classes offered at her retirement home. Prior to the marathon, she also snuck in a few 5k and 8k runs, the last one of which she completed six days prior to the San Diego marathon, with her 90-year-old husband running alongside.
Harriet says she runs to keep healthy and raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, which is close to her heart, thanks to her family's cancer history. Over the years, her efforts have raised over $90,000 USD for the research organization. And she is not done yet! Harriet says she plans to train harder and come back even stronger, in 2015!
Resources: nbcsandiedgo.com, cnn.com, npr.org