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NYC Marathon’s Oldest Runner Dies Day After Her Final Race

Submitted by on November 6, 2013 – 12:33 pmNo Comment
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Joy Johnson had said for years that she wanted to die running. The woman who was the oldest finisher in the NYC marathon from 2011 until this year, and who is the oldest female runner ever to complete that marathon, almost got her wish when she passed away on Monday, just a day after running in the New York race for the 26th time. She was 86.

It’s unclear what the cause of death was, but Johnson fell and hit her head around mile 16 of the race on Sunday. She insisted on finishing the race, and got some treatment in the medical tent, but did not go to the hospital.

On Monday morning, Johnson fulfilled what has become a post-race tradition for her: joining the crowds outside NBC’s Today show, and being interviewed by Al Roker.

News outlets differ on what happened next. The Daily News says Johnson returned to her hotel, told her sister she wanted to nap, and did not wake up. The Wall Street Journal writes that Johnson collapsed just minutes after the Today interview.

She was taken to Bellevue Hospital, where she was declared dead.

Johnson, a San Jose phys ed teacher originally from Minnesota, did not take up running until her retirement in the 1980′s. Family have stated that she was still running several miles and doing up to 150 pushups every day.

The WSJ reports that she often recited a passage from the Book of Isaiah (40:31) that was her running mantra:

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

Johnson will be interred in Minnesota.

 

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