92-year-old US woman oldest ever to finish a marathon

Updated: 2011-04-07 17:08
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92-year-old US woman oldest ever to finish a marathon

In this photo released by the Honolulu Marathon, Gladys Burrill crosses the finish line during the Dec 12, 2010 Honolulu Marathon, making her the oldest woman to ever complete a marathon. [Photo/Agencies]

HONOLULU - Gladys Burrill wasn't thinking about breaking a world record when she power-walked and jogged through the Honolulu Marathon at age 92.

But Burrill, a part-time Hawaii resident nicknamed the "Gladyator," learned soon after finishing the race on Dec 12, 2010 with a time of nine hours and 53 minutes that she likely qualified for the recognition.

Guinness World Records confirmed Burrill's accomplishment Saturday, and the Hawaii House of Representatives honored her with a certificate and lei during a ceremony Monday.

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Her advice for others wanting to live a long and healthy lifestyle?

"Just get out there and walk or run," she said Monday. "I like walking because you can stop and smell the roses, but it's a rarity that I stop."

Burrill had been a multi-engine aircraft pilot, mountain climber, desert hiker and horseback rider before she ran her first marathon in 2004 at the age of 86.

She said she was inspired when she saw early morning fireworks kicking off the marathon the year before.

Since then, she's completed five of seven Honolulu Marathons. She dropped out of the race in 2008 just days after the death of her husband of 69 years, and a stomach ailment sidelined her in 2009 halfway through the course.

Burrill said her positive attitude gave her the strength to start running marathons and keep at it. She still walks dozens of miles a week, including 45 miles last week.

"It's so important to think positive. It's easy to get discouraged and be negative," she said. "It makes such a difference in how you feel and your outlook on everything."

Burrill's feat also has been recognized by the World Records Academy and by USA Track and Field. She eclipsed the previous record held by Jenny Wood-Allen of Dundee, Scotland, who was 90 years old when she completed the 2002 London Marathon.

"This lady has proved to herself, to the world and all of us on this floor that through hard work and inspiration, you can do what you set your heart to do," said Rep. Gene Ward, R-Kalama Valley-Hawaii Kai.

Burrill said she doesn't plan to run the Honolulu Marathon again this year, although she's tempted. Instead, she said she'll be cheering at the finish line for some friends in the race.

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