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Young At Heart: Centenarian Sets Running World Record

3 weeks, 4 days ago

3042  0
Posted on Apr 25, 2024, 6 p.m.

“And if you should survive to 105, look at all you'll derive out of being alive. And here is the best part, you've had a head start, if you are among the very young at heart.” Sung by Frank Sinatra.

At 105 years young, Julia Hawkins, with a freshly picked flower in her hair, set a world record at the Louisiana Senior Olympic Games for being both the first woman and first American in her age group to run 100 meters. This inspirational woman started running in her 90’s, and when it comes to the race, she said that it is just a drop in the bucket in the race of life, in which she has lived through two world wars and spent 70 years married to the love of her life. 

Ms. Hawkins truly is an endearing longevity warrior, maintaining phenomenal cognitive and physical ability. Ms. Hawkins says that she stays in shape by jogging a mile or two every day, near her home in Baton Rouge that she and her husband built in 1948. Looking back at her life she says with a little chuckle that things were much calmer back then, with less buttons to press and lots of books to read. 

She was a teacher, loved nature, became an avid gardener, and met the love of her life while attending LSU. Eight years later the college sweethearts were married by telephone when Murray was away serving at Pearl Harbor in WWII. Together they raised three children, and after 70 years of marriage, he passed away at the age of 95 years old. 

Ms. Hawkins could never imagine living to be over 100 years old, but she said that without her husband it is just not the same or quite as wonderful. Sharing a loving memory, she recalls her husband singing love songs to her before going to sleep on the night he passed away. 

“One of my children suggested when I was 100 that it would be nice to run the 100-[meter] dash at 100 and do it in less than a 100 seconds,” Hawkins says sharing another memory. “And I did it in a lot less than that.”

On race day, Ms. Hawkins was cheered on by friends, her little sister as well as some of her former students, to finish the race in just under one minute and three seconds, which was no simple matter because she had to remain in her lane despite not being able to see a few feet in front of her and the wind blowing on her. During a press conference at the end of the race, adding to her legacy of competitive spirit, Ms. Hawkins said that she would run in a race again in another year. Then displaying her quick wit, added maybe, who knows, depending on how she felt when she got up in the morning with a little laugh. 

“You know, keeping your balance is hard when you’re 105. Just standing still is hard,” Ms. Hawkins said.

“The wind was bad. It was cold, but I still wanted to do it,” Ms. Hawkins said after finishing the race “I had a lot of friends here today. Students that I taught from three different classes are here today and I wanted them to feel that their teacher did well. I like to please people, and this is one way to do it.”

Before the race, Ms. Hawkins said that she had always been athletic, and before becoming a runner she was a bicyclist, winning several gold medals at previous Senior Olympic events. She says that running feels different, and she gets a feeling of wonder that kicks in when she is running as fast as she can. Ms. Hawkins likes to spend time reflecting on the more meaningful times in her life, referring to them as magic moments. 

“Magic moments are like something you see that's unusual that you hadn't seen often before, like a sunrise that was especially pretty or a sunset or a shooting star. Amazing things like that that are so worth watching for,” she says. “You don't have to be wealthy to get to see 'em. You just have to be observant and keep a watch on what's out there.”

Ms. Hawkins has created and maintains an exceptional garden that is an officially recognized Louisiana Certified Habitat, that she is especially proud of, keeping some of her best ones inside her house. However, most conversations turn to the subject of her late husband, demonstrating the close connection they shared. Sharing another magic moment she reflects on the love-filled long letters that he wrote to her while they were separated during his time at Pearl Harbor in WWII. She still occasionally reads them, doing so makes her feel energized, brings back memories of their wonderful life together, and makes her feel young all over again.  

Many people have approached Ms. Hawkins to express how they are inspired by her, to which she explains, “If I’m being left here in life for just that, that would be good enough, to set an example for a lot of people. If that’s what I’m doing, I’d like that.”

“I believe when you get older you should have magic moments and passions, because older people have to have something to look forward to, something to be ready for, something to care about, and I do care about a lot of things. I care about flowers and birds and sunrises and sunsets; I’ve seen so many wonderful things in my life.”

Still going strong, Ms. Hawkins celebrated her 108th birthday on February 10th, 2024, and she was excited to spend it surrounded by her friends and family. She is living proof that it is never too late to make healthful lifestyle changes to follow her example by getting up off the couch and creating your own magic moments. 

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. 

Content may be edited for style and length.

References/Sources/Materials provided by:

T.W. at WHN

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpIpGmxalBs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-3PZ-pU0wk

https://growingbolder.com/stories/julia-hawkins-expands-boundaries-of-human-potential/

https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/julia-hawkins-106-sprinter

https://www.wwno.org/news/2022-02-10/louisiana-runner-julia-hawkins-reaches-a-new-milestone-her-106th-birthday

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