By Sonia Arrison / Updated on Jul 14, 2014




Age is just a number, right? With more and more 90-something’s participating in competitive runs and other sports, the answer is a resounding ‘yes.’


According to the National Institute on Aging, the total US population aged 90 and over is projected to more than quadruple from 2010 to 2050. That means Americans can expect to see more older people in the coming decades and already among their ranks are bright beacons of inspiration.

For instance, 91-year-old Harriette Thompson recently set a US record in her age group by finishing a San Diego Marathon in 7 hours and 7 minutes. “I feel great,” she told reporters “I just ran another marathon and I can’t believe it got all this attention.”

Then there’s 95-year-old Orville Rogers, who broke seven age-group competitive running records last year. The Dallas Texas resident tells others that “it’s never too late to start, as long as you don’t have a physical problem that would prevent you from running.”

Canadian Olga Kotelko, a 94-year-old track star who has won 750 gold metals and broken 26 world records, makes the case for physical activity in even starker terms. “I chose to be a young-at-heart athlete rather than an old woman,” she told the Today Show. This brings up the question of what ‘old’ really means anyway.

“The older people get, the younger they feel–relatively speaking,” concluded a Pew ‘Growing Old in America’ study. Nearly half of all Pew’s survey respondents ages 50 and older said they feel “at least 10 years younger than their chronological age.” And “among respondents ages 65 to 74, a third said they feel 10 to 19 years younger than their age, and one-in-six said they feel at least 20 years younger than their actual age.”

So, it turns out that many people don’t think they will be ‘old’ until they are older. Perhaps this attitude is linked to the finding that Americans don’t expect increasing numbers of chronologically endowed individuals to create difficulties.

According to the Pew Global Attitudes Project Survey, “Americans are less likely than most of the global public to view the growing number of older people as a major problem. They are more confident than Europeans that they will have an adequate standard of living in their old age.” And of course, more years usually equates to more experience and, therefore skill, in one’s endeavors.

Older people will ‘stay young’ by trying many new things, and with stories about mid 90-year-old competitive runners hitting the news on a more regular basis it’s hard not to be optimistic.