Unexpected Lessons From A Senior Marathoner

By Katie Gilbert

What do you do when you grow up in rural Washington? Run, hike, and climb around the farm of course. 80 years ago, Gladys Burrill, or as her friends call her, did just this and her active routine as a kid continued with her even as she grew up.

Today, she is known as the oldest woman to complete the Honolulu Marathon, completing the race at age 92. She power walked and jogged her way through the race, finishing not only with the world record accomplishment but also with a certificate honoring her accomplishment from the Hawaii House of Representatives.

Makings of a Marathoner

Gladys has always been active. She participates in many activities including, mountain climbing, desert hiking, and horseback riding. She has also climbed Mt. Hood in Oregon a mere six weeks after having a new baby, hiked above the Article Circle with her husband, and waded in to the Arctic Ocean. Obviously she does not shy away from a challenge or even a bit of cold water.

Her advice for others wanting to achieve a similar lifestyle? She told NBC News that she advises others to "just get out there and walk or run... I like walking because you can stop and smell the roses, but it's a rarity that I stop."

Gladys' inspiration to run the Hawaii marathons came early one morning when she was visiting Hawaii the year before her first race. She saw the fireworks kicking off the marathon and decided that she wanted to participate as well. Since then, she has completed five of seven Honolulu marathons.

The Oregonian, Oregon's daily newspaper, was able to sit down with Gladys to learn more, asking how she manages to stay so healthy well into her 90s. Gladys unabashedly explained her active lifestyle and strict diet.

Healthy Workout & Diet Routine

  • She works out in rain or shine on her own track. She makes sure to get an early start to prepare herself for the Hawaii marathons, infamous for their wind and humidity.

  • Power walks 30-50 miles per week

  • Ramps up her routine three months before a marathon

  • Eats fish or poultry "once in a great while" but mainly sticks to a vegetarian diet

  • Doesn't drink or smoke

  • Avoids dessert except for a little ice cream every once in a while

  • Her breakfast is always a banana and cold oatmeal with milk

  • Takes a multi-vitamin for women

  • She sometimes drinks coffee but mostly sticks to juice or water

She told the Oregonian, "I'm fortunate to be in good health, but age is only a number. People can be old at 40. It's important to think positive and to dream." No matter what your age, you can get out and get active. Gladys teaches that no mountain is too high to climb — not even one that is 11,250 ft tall (Mt. Hood).

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Katie Gilbert author bio

Tags: Golden Inspirations

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