At 92 years and 65 days old, Harriette Thompson finished the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon on Sunday in 7 hours, 7 minutes and 36 seconds. The record had been previously held by Gladys Burrill, who was 92 years and 19 days old when she finished the Honolulu Marathon back in 2010. Just like how a few seconds can be the difference between winning and losing a race, so too can six weeks if you're already 92.
However, Harriette, who graduated from Syracuse University in 1947, to give you some perspective, is no stranger to smashing running records. She was already dubbed the fastest woman to complete a 26.2-mile marathon over the age of 90 last year when she crossed the San Diego Marathon finish line at 7 hours, 7 minutes and 42 seconds. She beat her own record this year by a mere 6 seconds.
This was also her 16th time running this particular marathon, according to The Charlotte Observer, the paper of her hometown. She runs each time for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team In Training program, which is magnanimous, to say the least.
While she has obviously got a talent for running, she spent her life doing something far more artistic. She studied music extensively at Syracuse, the New England Conservatory of Music, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the Vienna Conservatory of Music in Austria. She even had a career as a concert pianist, which is an achievement that's definitely up there with breaking marathon records.
However, despite her record, this year's race was no cakewalk for Harriette. Her husband passed away in January of this year after a long illness, and she also had to deal with bouts of staph infections in her legs. But even though she says it was her hardest marathon to date, she was happy to have done it. She told The Associated Press, "I was just really thrilled that I could finish today."
And so are we, Harriette. This video that captures the moment when she crossed the finish line is one of the most inspiring things I've ever seen. Not going to lie, I may have stood up and cheered along with the ecstatic crowd while alone in my apartment.
Despite the victory, Harriette may be hanging up her running shoes after this. She told Cosmo, "I believe this will be my last time, but my friends remind me that I say that every year." It would definitely be sad if this was Harriette's last race, but based on her track record (sorry, had to do it), I think there's a good chance we'll see her busting through her last time again next year.
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