At Age 100, Ida Keeling Sets Racing Record For the 100-Meter Dash
Ida Keeling finished the race in last place, but set a record for 100-year-old runners in the Penn Relay's 100-meter dash.
And the crowd went nuts.
"It was wonderful. I'm very happy to offer all of this crowd a nice example of what you can do for yourself, and I thank God every day for my blessings," she told Runner's World at the finish line.
Keeling's new record for the masters mixed 100-meter dash was 1:17.33.
Keeling, who entered her first race at age 67, celebrated Saturday's win in Philadelphia by performing five push-ups in the infield. Her daughter told the magazine she had removed one of the centenarian's hearing aids so the roaring crowd of 34,000 people wouldn't distract her mother.
Keeling lives in New York City's the Bronx, but grew up in Harlem. There were few opportunities for African-American girls to play organized sports in those days, she told The New York Times last month, so she began running.
"You see so many older people just sitting around - well, that's not me," she told the paper. "Time marches on, but I keep going."
She learned to be tough growing up in the Great Depression, when her father lost his grocery store and ended up a street peddler. Her husband died at age 42 and left her with four children to raise alone.
She sewed in a factory and lived with her children in a one-bedroom Harlem housing project apartment. She took her children to hear Malcolm X speeches, she told the paper, and went by bus to the 1963 March on Washington.
Keeling has known acute grief. She lost two sons in drug-related killings that have never been solved. After that, she lost her way, falling into depression and developing heart and blood pressure problems.
Daughter Kelley Keeling, 64, a track and field coach, encouraged her mother to run for her life.
The more she ran, the lighter she felt. She's been running ever since.
The four-foot, six-inch tall dynamo exercises for an hour everyday.
After crossing the finish line this weekend, she told NBC's Carolyn Manno, "Eat for nutrition, not for taste, and exercise at least once a day."
And "love yourself."