CHARLOTTE -- A 92-year-old Charlotte woman is gearing up for her 16th marathon this weekend.  Last year, Harriette Thompson set the world record for the fastest marathon ever by a woman 90 years or older.

Thompson has always considered herself a musician, not an athlete, but the classically-trained pianist is known for her energy.

"I always wanted to do things fast," said Thompson, who once got in trouble for rollerskating to class as a young girl.

Years ago, she set her sights on a new goal - running a marathon.

"I had never run a marathon, but I was a lot younger then," she said. "I was 76, so I felt like I was really young."

Now 92, she's getting ready to run the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon for the 16th time. After setting a world record the last go around, she's gotten a lot of attention.

"When I was 89, they sort of commented on how nice it was and I got a trophy for winning my age group," Thompson said. "But when I become 90, actually 91... You would have thought I was a rock star."

Thompson is surprised by all the fuss, but she's glad it puts a spotlight on why she runs the marathons - to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

To date, she's raised over $100,000.

"Each day I get more checks," Thompson said.

She's beaten cancer twice, but lost both her parents, three brothers, and many friends to the disease. In January, her husband of 67 years also died from cancer.

"It's just something that I want to help if I can and as long as I can move," she said.

Thompson said it's getting tougher and tougher to cross the finish line each year, so she goes through piano pieces in her mind to keep her going.

"They're pretty fast, and the make me go faster," she said. "But it's all mental. And I also don't want to let people down. I want to make sure I can continue to help the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society."

Race officials are flying her first class to San Diego on Thursday. She'll run the marathon Sunday with her son.

Thompson said if she can run a marathon, anybody can.



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