Most people tend to slow down as they get older, but not Julia Hawkins. At the ripe old age of 100, the Baton Rouge centenarian decided to take up running for the first time in her life and now has a world record to show for her efforts! And while most seniors would be happy just to run for pleasure, or in order to add years to their lives, Hawkins, now 101, has a competitive streak.
In June 2017, Hawkins ran the 100-meter sprint in 39.62 seconds, earning a world record for her age group. A month later, she ran the same distance at the USA Track & Field Masters Outdoor Championships and clocked in at a slightly slower but still impressive 40.12.
She has even been dubbed “The Hurricane” by those who’ve seen her in action, because of her speed. What does she think of her new nickname? “I like the fact that hurricanes are fast and that I was fast, but hurricanes do damage and I don’t want to do damage,” she told Runner’s World.
— USATF (@usatf) July 17, 2017
Hawkins first started running, simply because she could. “I knew I could run, because I’m always in the yard working, and when the phone rings, I go running inside to answer it,” she said of her decision to take up the sport.
Her family is also a big motivating force behind her desire to run. “I just like the feeling of being independent and doing something a little different and testing myself, trying to get better,” she said. “I want to please my family is the other thing…Having a momma that can do this pleases them, and it pleases me to please them.”
Hawkins credits her four children—ranging in age from 64–71—plus three grandchildren and one great-grandchild for supporting her at races and catching her at the end because she’s “always out of breath and exhausted.”
She also believes a lifetime of smart eating and bicycling has helped keep her healthy enough to take up running in her later years. She says she tries to eat lots of veggies and fruits (bananas, especially) and not much meat, mostly sticking to chicken and fish. She also has never been a smoker or drinker. “I mean I’ve had a cocktail or two in my life, but it’s not something I do,” she told the Washington Post.
Her advice for anyone with an itch to start running? “Keep in good shape, try not to be overweight, get good sleep, and keep exercising and training,” she said, adding one caveat: “There is a fine line of pushing yourself and wearing yourself out…You don’t want to overdo it. You just want to do the best you can do.”