Harriette Thompson, Meb Keflezighi

91-year-old woman breaks marathon record

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source: Getty ImagesHarriette Thompson didn’t let age or cancer stop her from making history at the San Diego Marathon on Sunday.

Thompson, 91, broke the women’s 90-94 age-group marathon record when she crossed the finish in 7 hours, 7 minutes, 42 seconds.

She was still healing from squamous cell carcinoma radiation treatments as recently as one month before the marathon. Her white tights covered wounds on her legs. It wasn’t her first time battling cancer. She ran San Diego in 2010, 2011 and 2012 with an oral cancer that took all but one of her upper teeth and her jawbone, according to the Charlotte Observer.

Actually, Thompson shattered the previous 90-94 age-group record of 8:53:08, set by Mavis Lindgren in 1997. She came close to the men’s mark of 6:46:34.

Get this: Thompson didn’t take up marathon running until 15 years ago, at age 76.

“I started running because I had friends who were very ill from leukemia,” the Charlotte retirement community resident said. “A friend of mine was gathering money for the race, and she was going to run for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I decided, well, I could walk that. So I signed up, and I came out here in 1999 and ran my first marathon.”

Everybody in her family has died from leukemia or cancer, including the recent passing of her 99-year-old brother, she told NBC San Diego. She has raised more than $90,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society running 15 marathons, according to the Charlotte Observer.

She was given a special introduction before Sunday’s race and met Meb Keflezighi, the Boston Marathon winner and 2004 Olympic silver medalist.

Her longest training run/walk was five or six miles, and she told reporters wasn’t sure she would be able to finish Sunday. But she powered on with her son, Brenny, 55, by her side.

Thompson, reportedly a former concert pianist who played Carnegie Hall three times, was surrounded by media after completing the 26.2 miles in about 16:20/mile pace Sunday.

“I don’t deserve all this attention,” she said, according to competitor.com. “I feel relieved. But I’m interested in getting into a cold shower and falling into bed for a while.”

Thompson told reporters she would run the San Diego Marathon again next year, if she’s able.

“I can’t believe how big a deal they’re making over me,” she told the Charlotte Observer. “I felt like a queen for the day.”

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Ida Keeling, 100 years old, sets world record at Penn Relays (video)

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Ida Keeling electrified the Penn Relays crowd with her 100-meter dash in 1 minute, 17.33 seconds on Saturday afternoon.

Keeling set a world record for fastest 100m by a woman 100 years and older. There is no data on USA Track and Field and masters athletics websites for a previous record holder.

“I’ll be 101 in a couple of weeks,” Keeling pointed out to NBC Sports’ Carolyn Manno after the race, a mixed-gender event for athletes 80 and older. “I’ve never seen nothing like this crowd. Maybe that’s what the excitement was.”

Keeling’s advice?

“Love yourself, do what you have to do and what you want to do,” she said. “Eat for nutrition, not for taste. And exercise at least once a day.”

More on Keeling is here.

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U.S. sprinters past, present trade relay barbs

Justin Gatlin
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The only loss for the Americans at the Penn Relays came in the men’s 4x100m, as the U.S. team bobbled its victory away on a bad baton handoff between Tyson Gay and Isiah Young for the final leg, which led to a disqualification.

Mike Rodgers and Justin Gatlin gave the Americans an early lead in the race, and things were moving along well during Gay’s third leg. But the muffed handoff for the final leg cost the Americans. Both the winning Jamaican squad and the second American team surpassed them.

Young finished third, but the team was disqualified because the handoff occurred outside the pass zone. The second U.S. team of Sean McLean, Wallace Spearman, Calesio Newman and Remontay McLain finished in 39.02.

The mistake led to some inflammatory comments from U.S. great Leroy Burrell about continued problems with handoffs by U.S. relay teams.

“Well, I think we’ve got to put our team together a little earlier, possibly,” Burrell said in a television interview. “I think, we’ve had the same coaches working with these guys for many years, and we’ve had failure after failure. So it’s possible that, you know, it might be time for a bit of a regime change with the leadership.

“I think the athletes have to be the catalysts that make that happen. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to get the stick around. I saw thousands of relay teams yesterday — maybe not thousands, but hundreds of relay teams get it around. But the professionals can’t. That’s just not good for our sport.”

Rodgers didn’t take kindly to those remarks.

“People keep pointing their fingers and downing us, but nobody has ever tried to come out there and help us,” he said. “Nobody from the past. Not Carl [Lewis] or Leroy. They haven’t been out there. I can’t really respect their opinions because they’re supposed to be leaders in our sport and in the USA, and they’re not coming out there to drop some knowledge on us, so I don’t care what they have to say.”

Lewis criticized U.S. relays in March.

Gatlin was equally critical of Burrell.

“I’m tired of people who have been part of Team USA take shots at Team USA,” Gatlin said. “To put us in the same boat as high schoolers is insulting.”

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