Oldest woman to run in New York marathon dies next day
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Last Updated: Wednesday, November 06, 2013, 15:11
New York City: An American grandmother, who was on Sunday the oldest woman to compete in the New York marathon, died one day later. She was 86.

Joy Johnson from San Jose, California took just under eight hours to complete the 26.2-mile race through all five boroughs of the biggest city in the United States.

She stumbled and hit her head at around the 20th mile. She went to the medical tent only after completing the race and declined their insistence that she go to hospital.

"She never really ran to compete, she ran because she loved it," her youngest daughter Diana Boydston told AFP by telephone.

Johnson, who would have turned 87 on Christmas Day, had been a physical education teacher and coach for many years, but only took up running in retirement.

Sunday was the 25th consecutive time she finished the race. Her fastest time in New York was just under four hours in 1991. She came first in her age group six times.

"She was a woman of great faith, that was first in her life, faith and family and then probably running. She really loved to run. She made a lot of friends that way all over the world," Boydston said.

"She really was amazing."

While Johnson's training had relaxed slightly in recent years, it was still rigorous for many people half her age.

"She would go every morning out to our local track and run with people who were running or talking there. She would run bleachers, obviously doing stretching before you left," said Boydston. She travelled to New York accompanied by her sister, Faith.

After the race it was her custom to have a hot bath and go to bed. On the next day, it was her tradition to go to the Rockefeller Plaza where US TV network NBC films the Today show. When she and her sister returned to their hotel, Johnson lay down to rest and never woke up.

Her daughter last spoke to her mother one day before the race and said she had been "very happy."

"I got to tell her I loved her. That's what's been keeping me going," Boydston said.


First Published: Wednesday, November 06, 2013, 15:11

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