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Monday, May 5, 2014

Oldest Woman in NYC Marathon (86) Finishes Race, Dies the Next Day

Joy Johnson running

At 86, distance runner Joy Johnson was a great athlete who unfortunately, passed away after finishing the New York Marathon.
Johnson, the retired gym teacher, who took up jogging at age 56, competed in many different races around the country with 25 consecutive finishes in the New York City Marathon — one of the most legendary streaks in the history of recreational running. 
Two years ago, at 84, she became the oldest finisher ever in that event, clocking a time of 7:44:45.
According to news accounts, Johnson stumbled and fell around the 16-mile or the 20-mile mark or the race, hitting her head.  Determined to finish, Johnson got up, received first aid, and finished the race in 7:57:41, barely off her usual pace. 
The next morning,she joined the post-race crowd at Rockefeller Center, where she was interviewed by the NBC Today show’s Al Roker, wearing a scarf that only partly obscured her bandaged head. Afterward, she returned to the Roosevelt Hotel with her two sisters, and lay down in her bed, complaining of fatigue. When she failed to awaken, she was rushed to Bellevue Hospital, where she was declared dead.

Johnson’s passing stunned and saddened the running world. “She was an inspiration to us all,” the New York Road Runners, the race’s sponsor, said in a statement.
But Johnson, whose ambition was to keep running for as long as she was around, might have been more sanguine. In a 2008 interview, she recalled the thrill of her first NYC race. “When I crossed that finish line in Central Park, I just knew this is what I would do the rest of my life,” Johnson said. “Running makes you feel good. It’s energizing. You sleep better at night. And the best part for me is you can eat anything you want.”

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