At 91-years-old, marathoner Harriette Thompson really doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about. The two-time cancer survivor finished her 15th marathon on Sunday at the San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon, completing the race in 7 hours and 7 minutes — a record time for a woman 90 years or older.
“Oh I feel great,” she told reporters on a conference call on Monday. “I can’t believe this is happening. I just ran another marathon and I can’t believe it got all this attention.”
Thompson ran her first marathon when she was 76 after a friend from church had run as a fundraiser for charity. A cancer survivor, she decided to run for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society — and just kept going. So far, she’s raised $90,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and still has money pouring in from her latest race.
The race is especially impressive considering Thompson had recently undergone radiation treatment on her legs and until a few weeks ago had trouble even standing. To get ready for the marathon, she worked out for about an hour on the elliptical in recent weeks and ran a 5K last week.
“I didn’t do much training,” she said.
In fact, her longest training run was six miles. Most marathoners have runs of more than 20 miles in the weeks leading up to race day.
Thompson said she felt pretty good for the first 13 miles but began to struggle a bit around mile 17. To keep from getting bored and tired during the marathon, she paid close attention to the bands that were playing at every mile, which is a signature feature of Rock n Roll races.
“Having all those dance bands and drums made me pick up the tempo a little bit,” she said.
Thompson was met at the finish line by her nephew who she hadn’t seen in a decade and his family who took her out for a quick post-race treat.
“I had a Popsicle,” she said.
As for whether she’ll do another marathon, Thompson said she hoped to — especially one she could train better for.
“The only problem is at this age I’m not sure whether I’ll be here,” she said. “But if I am I think
I’ll be better now that I’m getting over the radiation. I should do better if I trained some more.”