Gunhild Swanson is made of tough stuff. The 71-year old grandma ran an ultramarathon, which is a brutal 100 mile race. She finished with only 6 seconds left on the clock, an amazing feat for someone 3/4 her age. The unstoppable lady had determination on her side as she completed her incredible journey. The Daily Mail reports:
Gunhild Swanson may have crossed the finish line last at the Western States 100 in California, but she stole the show by becoming the first woman over the age of 70 to finish the race.
Swanson’s time clocked in at 29 hours, 59 seconds and 54 milliseconds, but the ultrarunner wasn’t sure she would make the 30-hour cutoff after she went off course in the middle of the race.
At mile 88 Swanson and her pacer followed a couple runners in front of them, instead of looking for the markers. The mistake added three extra miles to her already brutal race.
‘The terrain is so difficult that ordinary mortals like me, you can’t run,’ she told iRunFar.com.
‘You have to power walk it and hike it, so I just kept getting further and further behind.’
By the time Swanson reached the 90-mile marker, Swanson was back within reach of the cutoff time – but she wasn’t sure she had it in her to make it.
‘I can’t make it up. I don’t have enough legs to make it up,’ Swanson recalled thinking at that moment. ‘I thought I was done. Physically I just couldn’t do it.’
But Swanson’s pacers, including her son and grandson, and the crowd gave her the encouragement she needed to keep on going.
She was joined on the course by friends, her pacers, and even the winner of the race as they began pouring ice water on her and telling her she had to give everything she had.
And she did.
Swanson said one of her friend’s checked the clock and saw she was running 7-minute miles on the last leg of the race’s track, covering the last 1.3 miles in 16 minutes.
The crowd erupted in a long round of cheers and applause as Swanson crossed the finish line.
‘I must have had the biggest smile on my face,’ she said. ‘It was just overwhelming. I finished this sucker.’
Damn. If she’s got her act together, I really need to move my butt. **puts down Doritos and starts lacing running shoes** This story really shows that the power of the human spirit, determination and encouragement, anything is possible. Congrats on your finish, Gunhild – and by the way, I’m going on a run.
Written by Katie McGuire. Follow Katie on Twitter @GOPKatie, or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
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