Harriette Thompson, a cancer survivor and a classical pianist who started marathons running at 76 died on Monday (16 October) in Charlotte, N.C at the age of 94.
Ms Thompson is the holder for the fastest time in a marathon and half-marathon for a woman over 90.
Her son Brenneman revealed that Ms. Thompson had been in hospice care after she was injured in a fall down a flight of steps on 6 Oct while she was delivering birthday gifts at her retirement community.
She began running short distances with her husband in her 50s and only took up marathoning in 1999 when she wanted to help a fellow singer in her church choir to raise money for a cancer charity by walking in the annual Rock ’n’ Roll San Diego Marathon. She entered the race, but she did not walk.
In 2015, at 92 years and 93 days, Ms. Thompson ran the Rock n Roll Marathon in San Diego in a time of 7 hours, 24 minutes and 36 seconds, breaking the record for the oldest woman to run a marathon previously held by Gladys Burrill, who at 92 years and 19 days ran 9:53 at the Honolulu Marathon in 2010.
On 4 June, at age 94, Thompson completed the half marathon in San Diego in 3:42:56, also a record for the oldest woman to complete a half marathon.
In all, her running at the San Diego marathon raised more than $100,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, a national charity.
When often told she was an inspiration, Ms. Thompson commented,
“If at this age I can do anything positive, that’s wonderful.”
Harriette Brenneman Line was born on March 27, 1923, in Carlisle, Pa. She attended Dickinson College in her hometown before receiving a music scholarship to attend Syracuse.
Throughout her life Ms. Thompson maintained her focus on music as she raised her children. She taught piano at Boston University and earned an artist’s diploma from the Vienna Conservatory. She performed at Carnegie Recital Hall (now Weill Recital Hall) and on the cruise ship Queen Elizabeth II. She received a master’s in music from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro.
Ms. Thompson is survived by two sons, three daughters, and 10 grandchildren. Her husband died two years ago.
Featured Photo Credit: Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series