Photo Credit: The Competitor Magazine
Harriette Thompson of Charlotte, NC proved that you’re never too old to make history. On Sunday, May 31, she finished the Suja Rock ’n’ Roll San Diego Marathon at age 92, becoming the oldest woman to complete a marathon.
She began participating in races in 1999 in order to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Harriette runs in memory of family members and friends including her husband, Sydnor, who lost his battle with cancer in January of this year. Harriette is a two-time cancer survivor herself, and has raised over 100,000 dollars since she began racing.
Photo Credit: The Guardian Sport
Her son, Brenneman, ran with her and provided her with the carbohydrates she needed to get through. He had water, Vaseline, Gatorade, PowerBars, GU energy gels, bananas, oranges, and pretzels on hand during the race.
Along with the support of her son, she used music as motivation. Harriette is a former concert pianist and plays piano compositions in her head while running. “I do think the discipline required to play the piano has helped my running,” Harriette explains to race organizers. She rehearses quick tempos to stimulate herself and to pass the time.
In 2010, Gladys Burrill set the record as the oldest woman to complete a marathon at the age of 92 years and 19 days. Harriette beat her by 46 days, finishing the race at 92 years and 65 days old. Her time also overshadowed Gladys’ by over two hours, finishing in 7:24:36, compared to the record 9:53:16.
Photo Credit: USTA San Diego
At the finish line, Harriette was met with applause and support from other runners and bystanders. The crowd captured and filmed her monumental finish on their iPhones, and the footage soon became viral.