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She's 92, Beat Cancer, Running a Marathon

Harriette Thompson could become oldest woman to complete 26.2 miles
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 31, 2015 6:37 AM CDT

(Newser) – A 92-year-old cancer survivor is seeking to become the oldest woman to finish a marathon. Harriette Thompson of Charlotte, NC, is set to compete in the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in San Diego today. "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 90 or older by more than an hour and a half.

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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. 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. "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. (Read more marathon stories.)

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