Running At 104: If You Fail, Try And Try Again!
Ida Keeling from Harlem, New York who celebrates her 104th birthday today (she was born on 15 May 1915!) is not your typical runner. She was 67 when she first started running, as a form of therapy after losing her two sons to drug-related violence.
In 1982, Ida participated in a mini-run with her daughter, Cheryl. Reminiscing the crucial moments which helped her overcome personal tragedies, she said, “My daughter Cheryl came by one day and saw I was down in the dumps. That isn’t usually who I am. She wanted to take me out for a mini run and since I was already so down I said: All right, go ahead. And it did good for me. It kept me moving. I could feel myself getting stronger and feeling more free. It helped me immensely. And I’m still running now”.
Over the years, Ida has carved a name for herself as a sprinter in the 60 and 100 meter distances. She describes what running has done for her in her own words, “….the more I ran, the faster and stronger I became. As I was running like crazy, I released the hold that death had on me. From then on, I belonged to track and field. I said, shoot, sprinting is faster. I’m not going to do all this long-distance, I’m going to sprint. I wanted to go as fast as I could.”
“Now I’m 104, I’m not so fast. But I go whatever distance I can and if I start a race, I finish it. I’m always the winner for my age group as I don’t have no competition. I’m usually chasing myself. But I go with what I’ve got left. I go to the gym, I ride my bike, I work out, I stretch, I reach, I do push-ups, I do upper weights, I get on the floor and turn my feet up over my head, and when I don’t get out, I stay right here and work out in my room. I’m as healthy as a 25-year-old, my doctor says. I have no intention of slowing down.”
It is far-fetched to say that Ida lives by this motto – “Age ain’t got nothing to do with it. When you really want to do something for yourself, go and do it. And if you fail, try, try, try again.”
Here are some other interesting facts about Ida Keeling.
- In 2005, at the age of 90, Ida won a medal and lifetime award for participating in a race in Atlanta, Georgia.
- In 2008, at the age of 93, she set a world record for her age group in a race in France.
- Ida was featured in Vogue’s Age Issue in 2011 with her youngest daughter and coach, Shelley Keeling, a lawyer and real estate investor.
- In 2014, at the age of 99, she participated in the 100-meter sprint event at the Gay Games in Ohio and set yet another record for her age group.
- In 2016, at the age of 100, Ida became the first woman in history to complete a 100-meter run at the Penn Relays, the oldest and largest track and field competition in the United States.
- Ida, who suffers from arthritis, also takes part in biking, jump roping and even yoga.
- She was featured in the HBO documentary, If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast, on aging over 90, which premiered in June 2017.
- She is the author of Can’t Nothing Bring Me Down: Chasing Myself in the Race against Time, published in 2018, an autobiography of her life and the important events in American history and her own personal tragedies that made her who she is today.
- She has her own website, Healthy Past 100, where she shares her lessons in life and dose of wisdom.