Ida Keeling roused the crowd at this year’s Penn Relays as the 100-year-old Brooklyn woman became the oldest runner to cross the finish line.
Ida competed in the 122nd Penn Relays at Franklin Field in West Philadelphia on Saturday where she broke the world record for the 100-yard dash for her age group (80 years and older).
She clocked in at an astonishing one minutes and 17.33 seconds.
“I’m a nice example of what you can do with yourself, and I thank God everyday for my blessings,” Keeling said Saturday, stealing the hearts of spectators who cheered as Keeling’s daughter Shelley raised her mom’s arms in celebration of her incredible achievement.
Not only is Keeling’s story remarkable because of her late start to running in life, but she has also overcome intense heartache with the ability to carry on no matter what life throws at her.
Keeling raised four children on her own after losing her husband to a heart attack when he was just 42-years-old. Two of her sons were later murdered in what police believe were drug-related killings, and as a result Keeling suffered from depression.
Her daughter Shelley helped Ida to get back on her feet, literally.
Shelley recalls “I always understood from mother that you die on your feet rather than live on your knees,” and her mother lived her words as she ran her first race aged 67.
Nothing has been able to stop Ida since, her daughter says “She has a mat. She does squats, push-ups,” and that “She can do a lot of calisthenic movements where she can use her own body weight.”
As if that wasn’t impressive enough, Ida has now broken a world record and doesn’t show any sign of slowing down.
“It was wonderful.” Keeling said. “It’s the best exercise I know.”
The trick to her longevity? “Eat for nutrition, not for taste,” she said. “Do what you need to do, not what you want to do, and make sure you exercise at least once every day.