Running fans observing the Chicago Marathon had their eyes set on Mo Farah, the quadruple Olympic gild medalist, who would eventually came in first at an impressive 2:05:11. Or maybe they had their sights on Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, who ran away with the women’s race in 2:18:35, making her the seventh-fastest marathoner of all time.
But people should have followed a little known marathoner named Jeannie Rice of Mentor, Ohio, a town right outside of Cleveland. She finished in 3:27:50 and it was a record. Why? Because Rice is 70 years old, and beat the previous 3:35:29 set by Helga Miketta of Germany in 2013.
Rice felt fine after her marathon. She was back at work on Tuesday in heels, at her realtor job. A life-long marathoner, what inspired her to start running was a visit back to South Korea, in the early ‘80s.
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Born in Korea, Rice settled in the U.S. in 1968, when she was 19. After a trip back to Korea to visit family in 1983, she unexpectedly gained seven pounds. “You go to visit cousins and aunts, and they think we are starving in America,” she said. “It’s a feast every time we go. We had to eat to be polite. I came home, I’m 5-foot-2, and I’m a little chubby. I wanted to lose those few pounds.”
She took up running, at first just wearing tennis shoes. She quickly found she was good at it, and with minimal training, she was soon placing in her age group in local races.
In 1984, a lifetime of marathoning started, with a 3:45 debut in Cleveland, followed by a 3:16 at her second attempt in Columbus. Chicago, by her count, was her 116th marathon, and the sport has taken her all over the world—to the Great Wall of China, New Zealand, Prague, Paris, London, Madrid, Dublin, and Iceland.
In training for Chicago, Rice did seven runs of at least 20 miles or more—usually 22 or 23—and her weekly mileage reached about 65. She runs at 5:30 a.m. with friends in the area, many of whom are men, all of whom are younger. “That helps, running with stronger runners,” she said.
And in regards to her age, Rice makes no concessions about it.
Rice makes no concessions to her age. “I don’t feel 70 at all,” she said. “It’s too bad the number is there. I’d rather be 50. I’m sure the time will come. I’m probably not going to be able to run like this when I’m 80.”
But as long as she can, she’s making the most of it and setting ambitious goals. Her next is to win her age group at each of the six World Marathon Majors. She’s done so at Boston and Chicago, and the New York City Marathon is up next, in three weeks. Berlin is on her schedule for next year. “I ran London before, but I didn’t win my division, so I have to go back,” she said. “I don’t want to just participate; I want to win.”
Read the rest of the article over at Runners World: 70-Year-Old Ohio Woman Runs Insanely Fast Marathon in Chicago