Ida Keeling wasn’t competing at the Gay Games 9 to break a record; she was there to set one.
The 99-year-old great-great-grandmother from New York finished the 100-meter race Tuesday with a time of 59.8 seconds, becoming the first woman in the 95-99 age group to have completed the event in an internationally certified race, according to her daughter, Shelley Keeling (via the Akron Beacon Journal).
(In June 2012, Ida, then 97, ran the 100-meter in 51.85 at the USA Track and Field East Regional Championships.)
Ida, standing 4 feet 6 and weighing 83 pounds, started competitive running at age 67 to help deal with grief over losing her two sons from drug-related homicides.
“I was so depressed, and my daughter wanted to take me on a mini run,” Keeling said before the race (via the Akron Beacon Journal). “After it was finished, I felt relaxed and relieved.”
Keeling lives by herself in a studio apartment and uses the gym twice a week in addition to running and yoga, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. Shelley, 63, is a real estate investor who coaches track at Fieldston School in the Bronx.
“She was sinking deeper and deeper,” Shelley said (via the Akron Beacon Journal). “I said, ‘Mama, you had four kids, but I only have one mother. You’re coming out with me.’ I wasn’t sure if it would work, but I knew I had to try something.”
Ida turns 100 on May 15 and hopes to set a new record in the 100 and older age group.
“If I can or if I feel up to it… the pace gets lower as you get older because you get tired quicker,” she told Newsnet5 in Cleveland.
As for her advice on longevity?
“Eat for nutrition, not for taste. Do what you need to do, not what you want to do and don’t leave out your daily exercise. Love yourself.”
(H/T Runner’s World)