Meb Keflezighi, the 2014 Boston Marathon champion, earned his first masters title at the Suja Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon To Benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society this morning—but the story of the hour, and probably the year, was Harriette Thompson’s outstanding 7:24 marathon performance. The 92-year-old former concert pianist is now officially the oldest woman to ever complete the 26.2-mile distance. The previous record was held by Gladys Burill, who was 92 years, 19 days old when she completed the Honolulu Marathon in 2010. Thompson is 92 years, 93 days old.
“They are really pampering me here,” Thompson said at the finish, as joyful cheers erupted in the Gaslamp Quarter of America’s Finest City.
Thompson lost her husband in January and battled a staph infection in one of her legs, hindering some of her training earlier this year. Her longest run was 11 miles before the event, but that obviously had zero negative effect on her ability to strongly stride down 13th Street. The cancer survivor has completed the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon 17 times, the first being when she was in her 70s. As a Team in Training charity runner, she has raised more than $90,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS)—so it was only appropriate that fireworks of colorful confetti flew through the air as Thompson crossed under the finish-line banner. She was greeted by a swarm of media and fans reaching for a photo and a few words from the running icon.
“I was just really thrilled I could finish today,” said Thompson, who told Rock ‘n’ Roll in a video on Twitter that’s her favorite part of the race: the finish line. The North Carolina resident was accompanied by her 56-year-old son along the way.
Related: Why Running At Any Age Is Awesome!
Thompson first sparked media attention when she crossed the line at last year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego event, breaking the world record for oldest woman in her age group to complete a full marathon. And again this year, Twitter was overloaded with words of encouragement and awe-filled support throughout the morning for the mother of five and grandmother of 10. Not only has Thompson smashed an outstanding 5-year-old record, but her determined will unbeatable spirit also deliver a strong message about health and fitness being important—and possible—at any age.