91-Year-Old Runner Finishes San Diego Marathon

Harriette Thompson, 91-Year-Old Runner, Finishes San Diego Marathon
Harriette Thompson
Jerod Harris/Getty

updated 06/02/2014 at 07:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/02/2014 08:30AM

If you're looking for a reason to make it to spin class today, here's something even more compelling than that new swimsuit sitting in your dresser.

Meet Harriette Thompson.

The 91-year-old runner finished Sunday's San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in 7 hours, 7 minutes and 42 seconds, which is a new U.S. single age group record, reports Runner's World.

"I can't believe how big a deal they're making over me," the North Carolina resident told The Charlotte Observer. "I felt like a queen for a day."



It's an impressive crown to wear, after all: Her average pace – 16 minutes, 20 seconds per mile – surpasses the walking speed of a typical healthy adult. And this was all in spite of the fact she's still recovering from recent radiation treatments for squamous cell carcinoma. The burns on her legs are still healing.

No matter. She ran for 26.2 miles. Actually, she thought the first 13 were pretty easy.

"It wasn't until around the 17th mile that I was going uphill, and I was thinking, 'Oh, I wonder if I'm gonna make this,' " she told the Observer. "But the last few miles, I didn't mind at all."

When she finished, she told Newswire she was looking forward to showering and taking a nap. The next day, she would celebrate her 67th wedding anniversary with her husband, Sydnor, 90, at home.

Until then, she has a few words of wisdom for those who don't think age is just a number when it comes to physical activity.

"You're never too old to do it," she says. "I started my first marathon at 76."

Since then, she's run every year on behalf of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Team In Training. She's raised more than $90,000.

So, as far as those efforts go, she's yet to cross the finish line. She'll be back in San Diego next year, "if I'm still here," she says. "I'll try and do better next year and be in better shape."

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