Harriette Thompson

AP

Harriette Thompson, oldest woman to finish marathon, dies at 94

Leave a comment

Harriette Thompson, the oldest woman to finish a marathon, died at age 94 early on Monday morning.

Son Brenneman Thompson confirmed that she had been placed into hospice care after being injured in a fall Oct. 6 while delivering gifts to neighbors at a Charlotte retirement community.

“Her last words were, ‘Everything’s fine,'” Brenneman Thompson said Monday. “She’s had a great life. She lived it to the fullest.”

In 2015, Thompson, a cancer survivor, became the oldest woman to finish a marathon, clocking 7 hours, 24 minutes, 36 seconds at the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon.

In June, Thompson became the oldest woman to finish a half marathon, also in San Diego.

Thompson, who 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.

Thompson raised more than $100,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in her road-race career.

Harriette Thompson becomes oldest woman to finish half marathon

AP
Leave a comment

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.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Phelps eyes coveted bracelet to add to 28 Olympic medals

Cancer survivor becomes oldest woman to finish a marathon

1 Comment

Harriette Thompson, a 92-year-old cancer survivor, became the oldest woman to finish a marathon on Sunday.

Thompson clocked 7 hours, 24 minutes, 36 seconds at the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon, unofficially according to live timing, surpassing the age record for a 26.2-mile race set by Gladys Burrill, who was also 92 years old when she finished the 2010 Honolulu Marathon, according to The Associated Press.

Here’s video of Thompson crossing the finish line.

Thompson, who has battled jaw and skin cancer, didn’t take up marathon running until age 76 and has now run 16 San Diego Marathons. Last year, she broke the women’s 90-94 age-group marathon record in San Diego with a time of 7:07:42.

“I started running because I had friends who were very ill from leukemia,” the Charlotte retirement resident said last year. “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.”

She raised more than $90,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society running her first 15 marathons, according to race organizers.

This year, she endured training with a staph infection in her legs and the toll of the loss of her husband in January.

Thompson, a former concert pianist who played Carnegie Hall three times, joked that she receives attention “just because I’m so old,” according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

“I don’t consider myself special,” she said, according to the report. “It’s just that I’m 92. All you have to do is get to 90, and you get all sorts of attention.”

Justin Gatlin, Allyson Felix sizzle at Prefontaine Classic