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Harriette Thompson becomes oldest woman to finish half marathon

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Harriette Thompson, a 94-year-old cancer survivor, became the oldest woman to finish a half marathon at the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon on Sunday.

Thompson, who two years earlier became the oldest woman to finish a marathon, clocked 3 hours, 42 minutes, 56 seconds. That’s an average of 17 minutes per mile for 13.1 miles.

“I feel just like I did when I was 16, but I just can’t move as fast,” she joked afterward. “The whole experience was enjoyable except for the potholes.”

The previous record was held by Canadian Gladys Burrill, who ran a half marathon at age 93 in 2012 in 4:49:25, according to the Association of Road Running Statisticians.

The 4-foot-11 Thompson walked and jogged in red lipstick, dark sunglasses and her trademark purple outfit to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Thompson, who has battled jaw and skin cancer, didn’t take up marathon running until age 76 and completed 16 full San Diego Marathons between 1999 and 2015. She became a viral celebrity in 2015 when she finished the San Diego marathon in 7:24:36. She missed last year’s event due to cancer treatment.

In Sunday’s race, Thompson was surrounded by family members to shield her from adoring fans so she could focus.

“I guess it’s unusual, but I don’t really know why people make [such a big deal],” Thompson said afterward.”I guess it may be a phenomenon, but for me it’s just a natural thing to do.”

Thompson has raised more than $100,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in her road-race career. She made media appearances before Sunday’s race, joking about her age while promoting her cause.

“I’m amazed at how many young people say, I’m running just because of you,” Thompson said. “I’m glad I’m good for something.”

Having given up sugar, Thompson said before the race that her celebratory splurge might be an ice cream cone. Afterward, she said, “I’m deciding whether I want scotch or bourbon,” according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Thompson is a former concert pianist who played Carnegie Hall the same day that Martin Luther King Jr. died. She still plays croquet and joined 2004 Olympic marathon silver medalist Meb Keflezighi and retired NBA great Bill Walton at a pre-race press conference last week.

She said she enjoys the crowd atmosphere of road races, “except when it’s so loud I have to take out my hearing aids.”

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Alysia Montano races pregnant again at USATF Outdoor Championships

Alysia Montano
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U.S. Olympic 800m runner Alysia Montaño raced four months pregnant in 110-degree heat at the USATF Outdoor Championships in Sacramento, Calif., on Thursday.

Montaño, who raced eight months pregnant at the 2014 USATF Outdoors also in Sacramento, finished last in her 800m first-round heat in 2:21.40. She was 10 seconds faster than her time three years ago.

In a Wonder Woman top, she gritted her teeth on the final straightaway and raised her arms crossing the finish line.

“[In 2014] women let me know that my journey and my story had inspired them in so many different ways,” Montaño told media in Sacramento, standing next to 2-year-old daughter Linnea. “I think there’s something about coming out to any venue, not really expecting to win, but just going along with the journey and seeing what comes out of it. And that’s the most beautiful part for me, being a track and field athlete, the platform that I have, I feel so responsible to be a representative for people who don’t have the same platform, don’t have the same voice that I do.

“I represent so many different people. I represent women. I represent black women. I represent pregnant women. … I think it’s my responsibility to make sure I’m a voice and advocate for them.”

Athletes are looking for top-three finishes to qualify for the world championships in London in August. Finals are later this weekend.

In the men’s 800m, two-time Olympian and 2013 World silver medalist Nick Symmonds was eliminated, 32nd-fastest of 33 runners in the first round.

Symmonds, in his final season, said he has one more race left — the Honolulu Marathon on Dec. 10.

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Lilly King to be less vocal on Yuliya Efimova topic this summer

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Expect to see Lilly King and Yuliya Efimova resume their breaststroke rivalry at the world championships next month.

It will look very different than in Rio, when King became a vocal opponent of doping and directed some of her words at the formerly suspended Russian Efimova.

“This summer, I’m not going to talk about everything that happened last summer,” King said, according to the Indianapolis Star. “I spoke my piece. I’ve said everything I need to say.”

Her focus needs to stay in the pool, where she must finish first or second at the USA Swimming National Championships next week to make it to worlds (broadcast schedule here).

King said in May her goal is to break world records at worlds in Budapest in July.

She may need to in order to defeat Efimova like in Rio.

Efimova has the fastest 100m breast time in the world this year, a 1:04.82 set on Sunday. The national record put her No. 3 on the all-time list (and .09 faster than King’s winning time in Rio).

King is in third place this year at 1:06.20, though she spent all winter focusing on NCAA competition in 25-yard pools.

In Rio, King said Efimova shouldn’t have been allowed to compete given her doping history.

Efimova served a 16-month ban for testing positive for the banned steroid DHEA in 2013. She again tested positive in February 2016 for meldonium, though she said she stopped taking it before it became a banned substance Jan. 1, 2016, and was absolved along with other athletes.

King memorably finger-wagged at an image of Efimova on a TV in the ready room before her 100m breast semifinal and relegated the Russian to silver the following the night.

“You’ve been caught for drug cheating, I’m just not a fan,” King memorably said in Rio, adding last November, “[Doping] was on all of our minds. We had team meetings talking about what it was going to be like. We were going to be racing dopers, and we all knew it.”

King struggled with her newfound fame after she returned home last summer, sobbing in a winter meeting with her University of Indiana coach, Ray Looze, according to the Indianapolis Star:

It was so hard to do normal activities in her hometown – go to the grocery store or eat at a restaurant – that she considered wearing a wig to disguise herself. Her likeness was on a bingo card at a fall festival, so people purposely looked for her. When in Evansville now, she said, she looks at the ground so no one will recognize her. After an initial wave of attention on IU’s campus, she can walk around without interruption.

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