Mathea Allansmith isn’t your typical grandmother, she’s the oldest woman in the world to have completed a marathon.
She was 92 years 194 days old when she triumphantly crossed the finish line at the 2022 Honolulu Marathon, snapping up the record for the oldest person to complete a marathon (female).
It was on 11 December 2022 that the nonagenarian conquered the 26.2-mile (42.1 km) route in a respectable 10 hours 48 minutes.
Mathea, now 93, of Koloa, Hawaii, USA, stays in shape all year round by running six days a week, no matter the weather.
Come rain or shine, she pounds the pavement, covering 36 miles every week, even when she’s on holiday.
The retired doctor didn’t take up running until she was 46 years old.
“After a colleague, C. Stephen Foster, M.D., suggested running two miles per day, I took up running in 1977 and fell in love with the feeling of exercising outside,” she said.
I have continued to train and compete in races ever since.
The first marathon she participated in was the 1982 Boston Marathon, and the rest, as they say, is history.
She does have a soft spot for the event where she claimed her record though.
“The Honolulu Marathon is my favourite marathon partly because they don’t close the gate at a certain time which allows even the slowest runners to finish the race,” she confessed.
“It’s one of the best-executed races. Fantastic registration, set up and management makes it a joy to participate in.”
Mathea, who doesn’t allow her age to slow her down, says she is happiest when she’s on the road.
She enjoys running for miles and waving and saying hello to the people she passes.
She also loves the sights and sounds along her training route and enjoys being part of the society that is on the road exercising and getting out of the house.
“Running in cities around the world has allowed me to really get a feel for different places and people,” said Mathea.
I know I can do 15 miles or more on my feet, so I don my backpack and head out for the whole day to cover the city.
To stay in shape, Mathea, who runs year around, keeps a steady training routine.
“I train year-round but increase the mileage starting 18 weeks before a marathon,” she said.
“I stick closely by the Bob and Shelly Glover training method as written in The Competitive Runner’s Handbook.”
She added: “The pace and number of miles per training day are going to shift around but no matter what, I’ve got my running shoes on and I’m out the door six days per week.
“These days, on average, I run 36 miles per week.”
In fact, Mathea says because she runs almost every day, she lives much of her life out on the road.
However, she keeps her mind occupied by listening to music and audiobooks, attending meetings, calling friends and family, and greeting the wonderful people of Koloa as she passes by.
Mathea says it was her career as a physician that allowed her to understand how her body and mind respond to diet and exercise.
“I see the direct connection between moving and health,” she said.
But you don’t have to be a doctor to get the magic.
She says it is important to reduce stress rather than ignoring it without a plan on how to do so in the long run.
“Perspective on what matters to you may help here,” said Mathea.
“Of course, exercise of any kind is a natural stress reducer.”
Mathea says getting through the finish line and earning a Guinness World Records title was the thrill of her life.
“There were several groups of people filming and cheering me on even though I crossed the finish line some 11 hours after the start of the race,” she said.
“I felt an enormous sense of accomplishment and joy.”
Mathea’s six children, who she says are her biggest supporters, were also overjoyed to learn of her new record title.
“My family completely surprised me after the 2022 Honolulu Marathon, in which I achieved the world record, by wearing matching T-shirts stating my accomplishment,” she said.
We met after the race in California and celebrated for an entire week.
At 93, Mathea credits her healthy lifestyle to running.
“I’m living independently, driving, participating in many active social circles, working on my spiritual program, learning new things such as applying new technology to track my runs, and doing adventure travel,” she said.
“I’d say that my healthy lifestyle has allowed me to maintain a very high quality of life. My stamina has decreased over the decades but I’m making the most of what I’ve got in the moment.”
Mathea intends to keep running marathons for as long as she can and would like to attempt the record titles for the oldest person to complete a half marathon (female) and the oldest person to complete a 10K (female) within the next year.
“I’ve grown up with Guinness World Records books and museums and have always admired people who distinguish themselves in this way,” she said.
I am honoured to be among them, and I thank GWR for elevating and promoting the record holders.
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