Harriette Thompson is 92 years old and has survived cancer twice, but that hasn’t stopped her from running in marathons every year to raise money for cancer charities or becoming the oldest woman to run in and complete a marathon.
A resident of Charlotte, NC, Thompson recently completed the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon. Her unofficial finishing time was 7:24:36 for the full 26.2 miles.
Thompson started her running career when she was 76, and hasn’t looked back since. In an interview with Runner’s World, she said that she has raised over $100,000 for charities by running, and has only missed 1 annual marathon in the last 15 years, which was during cancer treatments.
Cancer has affected Thompson’s life deeply. She lost her husband of 67 years to the disease in January and now struggles with painful wounds on her legs resulting from treatment for squamous cell carcinoma. It’s fitting, therefore, that Thompson runs her marathons to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. In the 16 years she’s been running, she has raised over $100,000 for the organization.
Thompson’s son, Brenny, often runs with her, but this year she had more well-known company. Starting up front with the elite runners gave her the opportunity to meet Meb Keflezighi, the New York and Boston marathon winner. But during the race, Thompson herself became the celebrity. “Since I’m so old, everbody wants to have their picture taken with me. Brenny says, ‘Don’t stop her, just take a selfie,’ rather than stop and take pictures all the time, because I’d never get to the end,” Thompson told Runner’s World.
Thompson’s new record breaks the one set by Gladys Burrill, who ran the Honolulu Marathon at 92 years, 19 days old. Thompson is nearly three months senior.