It’s the ultimate test of endurance…
26.2 punishing, sweaty miles. Where runners compete against each other, themselves and the clock. All in the name of pushing their bodies to the limit.
Even for young, professional athletes, it’s a serious challenge.
But what if you’re 92 years old?
Meet the incredible Harriette Thompson. “The Matriarch of Marathons”.
And as the oldest woman EVER to run a marathon…
Her story is truly astounding.
Harriette was raised in Pennsylvania, as the youngest of five children and only girl.
Her first experience of marathon distances was cycling a 26 mile round trip, to get to piano lessons.
But she didn’t run a marathon until much later.
Harriette entered her first marathon at the sprightly age of 76, raising money for leukaemia research.
And the most impressive part?
Despite being almost 80… She ran the ENTIRE race.
“I noticed when I got there that everybody was running, so I decided to run!”, Harriette said.
Now for most people – running one marathon is impressive enough.
But not for Harriette.
She ended up running another 16 marathons…
And raised more than $100,000 for the Leukaemia & Lymphoma Society. Saving countless lives.
So it’s no surprise that eventually – just like all the greats – she became simply known by one name:
In the words of a spectator watching Harriette in 2015, when she set the world-record for the oldest woman to run a marathon:
“Holy moly – it’s Harriette!”
Harriette was 92 years and 65 days old when she finished the San Diego marathon in 7 hours, 24 minutes, and 36 seconds.
Proving to the entire world that age – really is – just a number.
And she didn’t stop there.
Two years later, after beating cancer for the third and fourth time, Harriette set yet another record.
She returned to San Diego, where she became the oldest woman to run a half marathon. Finishing in 3 hours, 42 minutes and 56 seconds.
At the incredible age of 94.
When asked what she did to earn her finisher’s medal, she replied coolly:
“I ran a few miles”.
For Harriette, the secret to her success and longevity was all about one thing:
“I really try not to be negative at all,” she said. “All I keep thinking is, I can do it.”
I’m sure you agree…
We could all learn a thing or two from Harriette.
Many people think growing older means slowing down and becoming less active. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Staying active as you age is something anyone can do.
And it’s incredibly easy – yet so important.
After all, exercise has an almost endless list of benefits for your longevity, mental health, and wellbeing. But you don’t need to run a marathon to achieve them. You could try…
- A brisk morning walk
- Taking the stairs and not the lift
- Cycling instead of getting the bus
These are all small changes which can keep you healthy and mobile… Well into your golden years!