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100 Meters, 100 Years Old: Ida Keeling Breaks Racing Record

Ida Keeling does pushups after breaking the world record for the 100-meter dash for centenarians at Penn Relays in Philadelphia on Saturday.
Courtesy of Penn Relays
Ida Keeling does pushups after breaking the world record for the 100-meter dash for centenarians at Penn Relays in Philadelphia on Saturday.

Yes, it's been a couple of days, but we felt compelled to share:

At 100 years old, Ida Keeling set a new world record for the 100-meter dash on Saturday at Penn Relays in Philadelphia.

She completed the race against competitors 80 and up in 1 minute and 17.33 seconds — the fastest time recorded for a centenarian. (For comparison's sake, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt holds the 100-meter world record of 9.58 seconds.)

In case you weren't already feeling inadequate enough, here's the advice Keeling offered after her event, speaking with NBC's Carolyn Manno: "Eat for nutrition, not for taste. And exercise at least once a day."

Oh, also: "Love yourself."

Watch the race and the interview via NBC:

Keeling told Runners World that she was "very happy" to show the crowd "a nice example of what you can do for yourself." Runners World adds:

"Ida Keeling smiled and celebrated by performing five pushups on the infield after Saturday's race, though she may not have been able to hear all the cheering from the 34,000 in attendance. Her daughter had taken out one of her hearing aids to prevent Ida from becoming distracted by the noise."

In April, The New York Times ran a profile of Keeling, who the newspaper says is "4-foot-6 and weighs 83 pounds." Keeling told the Times she learned resilience living through the Great Depression.

"It taught you to do what you had to do without anyone doing it for you," she said.

She was an active demonstrator during the civil rights movement, all while a widowed mother of four, the Times reports. Decades ago, two of her sons died in unsolved killings that were suspected to be drug-related, the paper says.

"Running became her therapy," Ohio's Beacon Journal reported in 2014. At 67, she leaped into competitive racing — and she hasn't stopped since.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Dana Farrington is a digital editor coordinating online coverage on the Washington Desk — from daily stories to visual feature projects to the weekly newsletter. She has been with the NPR Politics team since President Trump's inauguration. Before that, she was among NPR's first engagement editors, managing the homepage for NPR.org and the main social accounts. Dana has also worked as a weekend web producer and editor, and has written on a wide range of topics for NPR, including tech and women's health.
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