Living to the age of 92 is impressive enough, let alone beating cancer and running a marathon. (What have you done so far today?)
Harriette Thompson of Charlotte, North Carolina, has done all three, and guess what? The San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon was her 16th, and a true feat; when she crossed the finish line, she became the oldest woman to ever complete a marathon. She also holds the record for fastest time in her age group.
Thompson’s official age at the start of the race was 92 years old and 65 days, while the previous record holder, Gladys Burrill (“the Gladyator”), was 92 years and 19 days when she ran a 2010 marathon.
Thompson finished the 26.2-mile race in 7 hours, 24 minutes and 36 seconds. That’s more than two hours faster than Burrill’s time of 9:53:16.
“It’s amazing to me that I feel as well as I do. I’m a little stiff but limbering up as the day goes on,” she told CNN the day after the race. “My mother asked her mother when she was 89 how it felt to be 89, and my grandmother said, ‘Oh, I feel just like I did when I was 16, but I just can’t move as fast,’ and that’s the way I feel.”
The impressive nonagenarian ran the marathon to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in memory of family members who died of cancer, including her husband of 67 years, who died in early 2015. Thompson herself had a bout with mouth cancer in 2013, so she didn’t run that year — it was the only time she didn’t participate in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon since she started running it in 1999.
But, of course, a woman of this calibre doesn’t just beat cancer once. She beat it twice. She hardly trained in 2014 due to radiation treatment on her legs to take care of squamous cell carcinoma (skin cancer), yet she still broke the marathon record by more than an hour and a half.
Did we mention she’s also a concert pianist?
Running isn’t her only talent…92-yr-old marathoner Harriette Thompson is also a beautiful pianist. pic.twitter.com/gfjnsKnMJj
— Rachel Rollar (@RachelRollar) May 27, 2015
Thompson reminds us of Dr. Charles Eugster, who at age 95 is breaking running records and is often referred to as the world’s fittest senior citizen. He started track and field at age 85. Yes, 85.
“I was losing muscle mass and my body was deteriorating,” he said. “I was very vain, I wanted to have a beach body and turn the heads of the sexy, young 70-year-old girls on the beach.”
These two sound like a match made in heaven.