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Girls & Women

This 85-Year Old Never Liked Running. Now She’s Setting World Records

Twitter/Jacaranda FM

In college, Deidre Larkin was “really bad” at running. Now, at 85, she’s setting world records.

A wall in her home features roughly 500 medals from her various accomplishments.

The retired concert pianist began running at 78 to spend more time with her son in Johannesburg, South Africa, according to Yahoo news.

“When I started, I was walking three steps, running three steps, walking three steps,” she told Yahoo.

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Seven years later, she ran the fastest half marathon for her age group with a time of two hours and five minutes.

Larkin’s story is remarkable not only for her victories, but also because of the adversity she has overcome.

In 2000, she was diagnosed with an untreatable form of osteoporosis, which is when bones become brittle from loss of surrounding tissue.

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Despite this illness and her previous aversion to running, Larkin picked up a sport that puts a lot of pressure on bones and joints and she discovered an innate skill.  

It wasn’t an easy discovery.

Larkin adopted an onerous diet and practice regimen: no sugar, salt, or coffee and she wakes up at 5:00 a.m. every day to train.

This determination has led to prolific results. She ran 65 races last year, including 21 half-marathons.

"There's always an element of disbelief,” she told Yahoo. “I can't believe I've done it. But my body tells me the next day I certainly did it.”

"My blood goes around my body much quicker, I don't feel cold, I can feel all the muscles in my body,” she said. “I never knew I've got so many muscles! I feel much more alive."

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Nowadays, as she runs through town, she gets stopped by children and fellow runners who ask her for selfies.

"As people pass me, because most people pass me, they greet me and say 'hello -- I saw you on TV!' Otherwise we don't really talk for any length of time because you need your breath," she said following one race.