88-Year-Old Great-Grandmother Prepares For Her Third Marathon

Gladys Burrill
Gladys Burrill
Burrill, pictured here at age 7, started running when she was a girl
Burrill, pictured here at age 7, started running when she was a girl
Gladys Burrill began participating in marathons only three years ago.
Gladys Burrill began participating in marathons only three years ago.
The start of the 2005 Honolulu marathon
The start of the 2005 Honolulu marathon

WAIKIKI (KHNL) - Close to 29,000 runners are expected to participate in Sunday's Honolulu Marathon, and organizers are preparing for the big event.

For one participant, this will be her third marathon. Gladys Burrill started three years ago when she was 85. Her passion for running started when she was a little girl in Washington State.

"The fields were so hilly, but I just enjoyed it so much, running all over the hills," she said.

Despite her love of running, she never considered doing marathons because she does not like crowds. But her mind changed when she watched the 2003 Honolulu Marathon.

"I wakened early and I saw the fireworks at the starting line," she said. "And that was so overwhelming to me. I thought, I just got to do it in 2004."

And so she did. At the age of 85, she signed up with the marathon folks.

"Some of them all of a sudden started treating me like an old lady and then they got over it," she said.

"Glaydator," as she is known, also signed up her son, her grandson and granddaughter-in-law.

"I was just feeling giddy and excited. It was just so overwhelming," she said.

With her family and supporters rooting for her, a flood of emotions washed over her as she finished the race.

"So many people along the way cheering," she said. "And some of them near the finish line. I didn't know to laugh or cry. It was so overpowering."

Gladys says her recipe for a healthy lifestyle is simple: no alcohol, no cigarettes, and a healthy diet. She says mindset is also important.

"Just forget about age and enjoy getting out there and exercising and walking or running or whatever they do," she said. "And it will inspire them to do more."

This from a woman who has inspired others to follow in her footsteps.

Gladys' goal this year is to finish in seven and a half hours. Her son, grandson, and granddaughter-in-law will, once again, participate in the race with her.