San Diego, May 31: A 92-year-old cancer survivor is seeking a place in the record books as the oldest woman to finish a marathon. Harriette Thompson of Charlotte, North Carolina, was running in today's Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in San Diego and was halfway toward her goal by mid-morning.
"She looks good," said marathon spokesman Dan Cruz, adding that Thompson hopes to finish by mid-afternoon. Thompson is a two-time cancer survivor who dealt with the loss of her husband and a staph infection in her legs while training for this year's race.
"I have no idea if I'm going to be able to do it, but I'm going to try," Thompson said at a news conference on Friday. It will be her 16th time running it, and last year she set a record when she finished the race in 7 hours, 7 minutes and 42 seconds, beating the previous record for a woman of 90 or older by more than an hour and a half.
A classically trained pianist who played three times at Carnegie Hall, Thompson says she mentally plays old piano pieces she had performed to help her get through the 26.2 miles (42.2 kilometers).
"I just don't think of myself being that unusual," she said. "I have a lot of people saying what an inspiration I am. That's nice to hear, good for something at this age." The oldest woman to complete a marathon was Gladys Burrill, who was 92 years and 19 days old when she finished the 2010 Honolulu Marathon. Thompson will be 92 years and 65 days old today, according to race organizers.