Upon crossing the marathon finish line in Sunday’s Suja Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and Half Marathon, 92-year-old Harriette Thompson was not at a loss for words.
Confetti shot into the air.
“And her lipstick and makeup still look perfect,” cried the announcer.
Men and women celebrated. The media descended upon Thompson, still photographers clicking, cameramen rolling.
They were gathered to capture history as Thompson, finishing in 7 hours, 24 minutes, 36 seconds, became the oldest woman to run a marathon.
Her reaction to all the fuss?
“I thought it was like Lindbergh coming in after his flight,” she said.
Thompson has become the darling of the race that is now 18 years old and spawned the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series. A year ago she set a record for the fastest marathon by a woman 90 and older, finishing in 7:07:42. The old record was 9 hours, 53 minutes.
Watching Thompson being interviewed, 21-year-old Charo Rodriguez of Chula Vista said, “After watching that, I’ve got no excuse.”
Forget the record feat. A San Diego running coach for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team-In-Training program, wanted to know Thompson’s beauty secrets.
“I need to know how you look so good running,” said Erin Hayslip.
“I look terrible after the marathon,” Thompson said. “But with all these cameras I perk up a little bit.”
A one-time concert pianist who performed at Carnegie Hall three times, Thompson did not run her first marathon until she was 76. A two-time cancer survivor, Thompson runs to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. She has raised more than $90,000.
“I hit up all the people in my retirement home,” Thompson said. “Every year I write them a (thank you) note and say ‘I think this is my last year.’ Then I do another one.”
Asked how she felt about becoming the oldest woman to run a marathon, Thompson turned modest.
”I guess it’s sort of unusual now,” she said. “But in 10 years it won’t be ususual at all. People are living longer.”
A TV journalist asked Thompson what was her secret to living a long, productive life.
“I guess the secret,” she said, “is just keep going and pleasant thoughts.”
Thompson, a two-time cancer survivor, runs to raise awareness and funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. To donate to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on behalf of Team Harriette, visit her fundraising page.