The oldest woman running in the New York City Marathon, Joy Johnson, 86, died the following day after falling at mile marker 20 and hitting her head.
Joy Johnson was a mother and grandmother who found the love for running later in life and started participating in marathons 25 years ago.
The woman made headlines on Sunday for being the oldest female competitor in the New York City Marathon, but she passed away on Sunday afternoon.
The 86-year-old from San Jose, California competed in 25 straight marathons and at her age looked incredibly healthy and vibrant.
While at the 20-mile mark, she fell and struck her head on Sunday, but pressed on and finished the 26.2 mile race. Johnson refused the suggestion to visit the hospital from a medical crew.
Her daughter Diana Boydston told the AFP, “She never really ran to compete; she ran because she loved it.”
She might have been the oldest woman running in the marathon, but at 5 feet 5 inches tall and 120 pounds, Joy Johnson was not going to let anyone stop her from completing the race.
Johnson completed the marathon in eight hours, which is three hours slower than her best result during the ’90s.
On Monday morning she was featured in a segment of NBC’s Today Show with her sister Faith.
After the show they returned to their hotel room and Johnson wanted to lay down for a nap. She did not wake up.
This was not the first year Johnson was the oldest woman to run the NYC marathon, the former gym teacher had that title since 2011.
During an interview prior to the beginning of the competition Johnson told the New York Daily News:
“I’ll be at the back of the pack, but I don’t mind. I just praise the Lord I can get out of bed each morning and run. A lot of people my age are in wheelchairs.”
Johnson’s daughter was happy she got to tell her mom she loved her:
“At least she was running, the way she wanted to go,” Diana Boydston said.
Johnson might have predicted her own end when she told a newspaper:
“I always say I’m going to run until I drop. I’m going to die in my tennis shoes. I just don’t know when I’m going to quit.”
Of the more than 50,000 participants in the New York City Marathon, only 31 of them were 80-years-old or older. Joy Johnson, 86 was the oldest woman competing.
[Image courtesy of Facebook]