BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A 101-year-old runner from Louisiana who took up sprinting a year ago has set a senior woman's record in the 100-yard dash for her age group, and adds she's got one more race in her yet.
Clocked in 39.62 seconds, Julia Hawkins established the record in the 100-yard dash for women 100 and older last month at the National Senior Games in Birmingham, Alabama, The Advocate reported. She also competed in the 50-yard dash, besting competitors as young as 90 in 18.31 seconds while picking up the nickname "Hurricane Hawkins," according to the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, paper.
Hawkins plans to run once more, at the USA Track and Field Masters Outdoor Championships set for July 13-16 at the track stadium of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.
Hawkins began her competitive athletic career at age 75, entering as a bicyclist in national and state senior games. A graduate of LSU, she had given herself a bicycle as a wedding present when she married her college sweetheart. The couple eventually settled in Baton Rouge, where they raised four children.
To train for her cycling events, the 5-foot-tall (1.52-meter) Hawkins would ride a 6-mile (10-kilometer) course daily around her neighborhood. She took home a bronze medal at her first National Senior Games, in San Antonio, Texas, before winning gold medals at the games in Tucson, Arizona, and Orlando, Florida. But the 2001 National Senior Games in Baton Rouge signaled the end of her cycling career.
"There wasn't a single woman around in the meet," she explained. "So I quit. It's no fun."
Her athletic renaissance began at the urging of her children, who entered her in the sprint event at the Louisiana Senior Olympic Games. Hawkins said she had never considered running competitively.
"That amazed me," she says. "I never even tried it. They thought I could. And I could."
Her training regimen eschews sprinting and weights for tending bonsai trees and continuing to bicycle around her neighborhood.
"At this age, you're not getting better. You're getting worse," she said. "You only have so many 100-yard dashes left. You have to save them."
Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com