For a number of years Julia Hawkins set a record at the age of 101. An ongoing record.
She ran the 100 meter long hyphen and ended with a time of 39.62 seconds. They called her "the hurricane."
This week, at the age of 103, Hawkins returned to the track to run the 50 and 100 meter dash races at the National Senior Games in Albuquerque. She is believed to be the oldest woman to formally compete on an American track, according to the organization, which hosts the Olympic-style athlete's 50 and older event.
Admittedly, there is little competition in the centenary age group and Ms. Hawkins competed pretty much against himself. She finished 1
Ms. Hawkins started late in life, and it has become one of her many passions. She lives in Baton Rouge, La., Where she takes daily walks and cares for trees on her property. She has four children, three grandchildren and a grandchild. She was married to her late husband, Murray, for 70 years after they had the wedding by phone during World War II.
When the New York Times demanded an interview on Wednesday morning, she took a break from running to spend the day in a botanical garden. (Flowers are another passion for her.) We caught up with her afterwards before a party with other senior athletes and before she was ready to fly home to Louisiana on Thursday.
Our conversation has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
Q: If you don't mind my ask when is your birthday?
February 10, 1916 .
] I understand you didn't come in until you were quite older.
100. But I always did the Senior Olympics in cycling. So when I was too old to ride up hills and use gear and stuff, I went to 100. The first time I went to look at it and try, it was 50-yard dash. It was fun, and I fell in love with running.
Can you tell me a little about your training regime?
I run on the street in my house, occasionally, not often. As I get older, I feel like I have only so many 100-yard hyphens left, and I don't want to waste them in practice. Can you imagine that? I have markers on the street to show me where 50 meters is and where 100 is, and I walk past it. But I don't practice much. I'm just pretty good at moving around, and I do it when I need to do what I need to do.
How did you get your nickname, "Hurricane?"
Well, someone believed it. We talk a lot about hurricanes in Louisiana, and the fact that they do a lot of damage doesn't make me that much, but it's part of our homeland, and I think if they think it's sweet, it's okay with me. But I'm a big flower man, and I usually carry a flower in my hair, even when I drive. I'd rather be "Flower Lady" than "Hurricane Lady."
O.K., Maybe we call you "Flower Lady".
Well, either. It's okay with me.
What are you doing in your spare time?
I read. When I have problems with my eyes, I read the books that speak to you. I get amazing books that tell the stories and I have enjoyed them. I have a hectare of land and I have all these bonsais and they are enough to keep me busy. You need to water them every day and there is something to do with each one almost every day. I go out for lunch with friends most every day. Someone will stay with me at night, and she will have my breakfast and dinner so I'm well taken care of.
Do you have any secrets to longevity and remain in shape?
To stay in shape, just keep yourself active. Keep your weight down and exercise. Have many passions, things that you are interested in. Stay interested in many things to keep yourself busy and remember.
When you think back, what are you most proud of in your lifetime?
I am most proud of my children and my husband. They were the wonderful things in my life – and grandchildren and grandchildren. There are things you just can't beat it. This second (race) is just a small icing on the cake.
Many thanks. It has been a pleasure to talk to you. Do you have any final thoughts?
Stay in good shape if you can. Have many passions. And look for magical moments. It's something I've done in my life – think of the things that are magical moments that happen to you, such as sunsets and sunrises, rainbow, beautiful birds, music and people's lovely comments to you. All of these are magical moments and they are free of all. Be sure to keep an eye out for them.