Remembering Ida Keeling, Who Set Track Records When She Was 100+ Years Old

Miss Ida, as she was known throughout her life, passed away in late August at 106 years old.

9/16/2021 9:01:00 PM

Miss Ida, as she was known throughout her life, passed away in late August at 106 years old.

Miss Ida, as she was known throughout her life, passed away in late August at 106 years old.

The View, Steve Harvey,a lot of shows,” Keeling said. “People think she was being paid for it, but she wasn’t. It was a great story and she just wanted to share it.” She also wrote a memoir in 2018, titledCan’t Nothing Bring Me Down: Chasing Myself In the Race Against Time

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.Of the seven records Miss Ida set, at least five have been broken since. “And subsequently broken after that,” added Keeling.But Keeling said that the impact her mother’s story had on others was the biggest part of Miss Ida’s legacy. “What I love about what Mother did is she didn’t just inspire young people, who said, ‘I want to be like her.’ She inspired other older adults, centenarians, to get out and do it. She would say, ‘Just get out there! Take what you have and get out there. Don’t get stuck on what you don’t have and what you’ve lost. Get out there and use what you have to do whatever you can do and whatever you can accomplish.’”

Poon Watchara-AmphaiwanAnd Miss Ida lived those words. She competed through chronic sinusitis and arthritis in her knees, toes, and hands, andshe had cancer. She started to lose mobility in her later years and felt like she was moving much more slowly in runs; it annoyed her, but it didn’t stop her. “Mommy gave an opportunity to the world to see what we can do with age, if we honor the temple that God has given us, that we live in,” Keeling said.

She advocated for a healthy lifestyle, free of drug and alcohol abuse—although she did like a splash of Hennessy in her coffee. But more than that, her mentality held fast. “She always said, ‘Love yourself, and if you have toxic people around you, get out,’” Keeling said. Indeed, she left her alcoholic husband and became a single mother, doing what she could to take care of her children.

Related StoryTips to Keep Running As You Get OlderYoung people have always been important to Miss Ida. In 2018, the Armory threw her a 104-and-a-half birthday party, where young runners clamored around her. Miss Ida talked often about the children who weren’t the star athletes, the ones who finished in fourth or fifth, and didn’t earn athletic scholarships. She was always concerned they’d fall through the cracks.

To that end, a scholarship fund has been established in Miss Ida’s name. Keeling has set up aGoFundMethat aims to raise $20,000 to provide athletic scholarships to students who would benefit from the help. Donors have been leaving messages of condolence and tribute to Miss Ida. They’ve been of comfort to Keeling; even she has been amazed by the scope and breadth of her mother’s life.

Miss Ida ran up until she injured her femur in 2018. But even during the lockdown of the Covid-19 pandemic, Miss Ida walked up and down her terrace to stay active, at times using a stationary bike her daughter bought. “She kept moving. She always had her weights and a mat,” said Keeling. Truly, nothing could bring her down.

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Nadia NeophytouNadia Neophytou is a freelance journalist from South Africa, based in New York City, who writes for a variety of publications, from The Hollywood Reporter to Deadline, Quartz, CNN, and more. When she’s not interviewing movie stars and musicians, she’s running—or talking about running in a video series she created called The Rundown, where she interviews people she admires on the run.

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