That one time Janet Yellen ran a half-marathon at age 57

October 9, 2013
Yeah, I ran 13 miles. You wanna make something of it? (Photo by Robert Galbraith/Reuters)
Yeah, I ran 13 miles. You wanna make something of it? (Photo by Robert Galbraith/Reuters)

One of the criticisms quietly lodged against Janet Yellen when she was in the mix to be the nation’s next Federal Reserve chair was that she somehow lacked the gravitas for the job. Slight of build and silver-haired, she certainly is a less imposing physical presence than her rival for the job, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers. But those close to her say that doesn’t mean she isn’t tough.

Take the time she ran a half-marathon. That’s 13.1 miles. At age 57.

It was 2004, when Yellen was a professor at the University of California-Berkeley. Though the university was her academic home, the life of a professor felt sleepy after five years in Washington as a Federal Reserve governor and chairman of President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers, a person close to her said.  So she decided to take up running … and running and running.

The culmination was the Avenue of the Giants Marathon in May 2004 that wound through the ancient trees in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. She wasn’t fast. But she finished, taking three hours and two minutes to complete the run, averaging just under 14 minutes a mile. And you know what happens to tortoises in the end.

Ylan Q. Mui is a financial reporter at The Washington Post covering the Federal Reserve and the economy.
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