8 Nov

Oldest Finisher Dies After New York Marathon

Joy Johnson

At 86 years old, Joy Johnson was the oldest woman to complete Sunday's New York Marathon, finishing the race despite hitting her head at mile 20. The next day, Johnson was found dead in her hotel room. "At least she was running, the way she wanted to go," said her daughter, Diana Boydston.

Her sister, Faith Anderson, 83, accompanied her along the route and said the tumble occurred at the 20th mile. Medics were keen to take her to hospital, though she persisted to finish what was her 25th successful run in New York, crossing the finish line in 7:57:41.

Just hours after making an appearance on the Today show, the octogenarian complained of feeling tired and lay down in her hotel room. She is said to have died from complications of hitting her head and blood-thinning medication she took for a minor heart flutter.

Two years ago, Johnson became the New York City's oldest women finisher when she finished in 7:44:45. In 2008, she ran both the Twin Cities Marathon and New York City, with the events coming just four weeks apart. Leading up to the events, Johnson said her training routine consisted of a daily 8 mile run.

In an interview leading up to the New York event, Johnson, who only took up running after retirement, said: "I'll be at the back of the pack, but I don't mind. I always say I'm going to run until I drop. I'm going to die in my tennis shoes. I just don't know when I'm going to quit."