The next time you reluctantly step on a treadmill to run, make sure you think of Ida Keeling.
According to ELLE, Keeling didn’t start running until she entered her 60s, but now, the 100-year-old is a national champion. “She currently holds the fastest time for American women ages 95 to 99 in the 60-meter dash, 29.86 seconds,” ELLE reported, “and this weekend will compete in the 100-meter event at Penn Relays.”
While Keeling said that being an older person that is “just sitting around” is not in her character, it is evident that perseverance has been a theme throughout her entire life. ELLE says that Keeling grew up in Harlem, and once the Great Depression hit, she had to give up her passion for sports to earn money washing windows and babysitting.
From here, she only experienced more curves on her path: “At 42, she lost her husband to a heart attack and raised four kids on her own in a one-bedroom apartment in a housing project,” ELLE reports.
Keeling then worked as a seamstress, and later participated in the civil rights movement as an activist. However, “two of her sons succumbed to drug addiction and, eventually, passed away too,” says ELLE, which not only took a toll on her health, but also caused Keeling to suffer from a bout of depression.
But, life’s obstacles still did not prevent her from coming out on top. Her daughter, Shelley, helped her find running and sign up for her first 5K. Since then, Keeling has participated more races both domestically and abroad, and is “often the only one in her age group racing,” according to ELLE.
“…Get up and do things even if you don’t feel like it,” she said. “Sometimes you don’t feel like doing this, that or the other. Do the thing that you don’t like to do first and get rid of it.”