92-year-old be­comes old­est woman to fin­ish a marathon

The China Post - - SPORTS -

A 92-year-old can­cer sur­vivor rocked her way into the record books Sun­day, be­com­ing the old­est woman to fin­ish a marathon.

Har­ri­ette Thomp­son of Char­lotte, North Carolina, com­pleted Sun­day’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in San Diego in 7 hours, 24 min­utes, 36 sec­onds. She was mobbed by well-wish­ers as she crossed the fin­ish line.

“I’m fine, they’re re­ally pam­per­ing me here,” Thomp­son said in a firm, joy­ful voice as peo­ple all around her shouted con­grat­u­la­tions.

This was her 16th Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and, by far, the hard­est.

“It’s al­ways harder but this year has been a bad year for me,” she said, adding her hus­band died in Jan­uary fol­low­ing a lin­ger­ing ill­ness and she bat­tled a staph in­fec­tion in one of her legs.

“I couldn’t train very well be­cause my hus­band was very ill and I had to be with him for some time and then when he died in Jan­uary I had some treat­ments on my leg,” she said. “I was just re­ally thrilled that I could fin­ish to­day.”

The old­est woman to pre­vi­ously com­plete a marathon was Gla­dys Bur­rill, who was 92 years and 19 days old when she com­pleted the 2010 Honolulu Marathon.

Thomp­son is 92 years, 65 days old, ac­cord­ing to race or­ga­niz­ers.

De­spite her train­ing woes, she nearly matched her fin­ish time of last year, which was 7 hours, 7 min­utes, 42 sec­onds. That set a record for a woman 90 or older, shat­ter­ing the old one by more than an hour and a half.

A clas­si­cally trained pi­anist who played three times at Carnegie Hall, Thomp­son says she men­tally plays old pi­ano pieces she had per­formed to help her get through the 26 miles, 385 yards.

She didn’t begin run­ning marathons un­til she was in her 70s, af­ter a mem­ber of her church ap­proached her about be­ing one of her spon­sors in the marathon to raise money to fight leukemia and lym­phoma.

“At that time I had lost sev­eral peo­ple in my fam­ily to can­cer and I said, ‘Oh, maybe I should do that,” she re­called. “When I got out there the first year I just planned to walk it, but every­body else was run­ning so I started to run with them.”

She isn’t sure if she’ll run again next year. But af­ter last year’s race she wasn’t sure she’d run this one ei­ther.

She added she en­joys rais­ing money for can­cer re­search and fig­ures the com­pe­ti­tion has helped keep her healthy.

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