Joy Johnson: A marathoner till the end


Posing with Joy Johnson the oldest female finisher in the NYC Marathon 2014

A few weeks ago at the TCS NYC Marathon I had the privilege to meet Joy Johnson, the oldest female runner entered in the NYC Marathon. It was a chance meeting at the Expo, but one that stuck in my mind. As I looked her up in the results later, I was saddened to see she died Monday the day after the race in her sleep. At 86 years young, Joy possessed a shear love of running that was immediately evident. She lit up talking about some of her races and was quick to tell you about all her race travels and triumphs all over the world. This year was her 25th NYC marathon, and though she fell at mile 20 she refused help and insisted on finishing.

Having only spoken to Joy for  about 15 minutes at the Expo,  I have a feeling she would do it all over again.  She certainly lived and breathed running, and I was in awe that she was able to complete so many marathons. When asked her secret race morning she insisted Poptarts and instant coffee with 2 spoonfulls of sugar were the way to go. Though I know she will be dearly missed by her family and friends, I imagine she died with a full heart, tired legs, and she wouldn’t want it any other way. If we could all be so lucky. Here is a nice write up on her in the NY Times.



Blake Russell

Runner, Wife and Mom. Enjoying where the running world has taking me and looking forward to the journey.

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3 Responses

  1. Van says:

    What a sweet-sadly sweet but still sweet- story. I had read about her in the NYT as well. I’m sure meeting you was a special moment of her life well lived.

    • I agree. I cried when I read about her in the paper after I went searching for results. I debated not writing about her, but thought she would she was a great inspiration and would appreciate it.

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