Celebrating record-breaking runner Julia 'The Hurricane' Hawkins' 106th birthdayPlay
When most people turn 100, they're probably not looking for a new hobby. Then again, they're not Julia Hawkins.
“One of my children suggested when I was 100 that it would be nice to run the 100-[meter] dash at 100 and do it in less than a 100 seconds,” Hawkins says. “And I did it in a lot less than that.”
Five years later, at the 2021 Louisiana Senior Games, the Baton Rouge native had a new goal: run the 100-meter dash in less than a minute. Hawkins clocked in at just over one minute and two seconds, which was not quite what she wanted.
“I have done much better than that,” she says, but the high winds and cold weather held her back.
Still, “The Hurricane,” as she’s nicknamed, set a world record that day and won the title for fastest 100-meter dash in the age 105 and up category, a feat that didn't even surprise her.
When she first started running, there were only a handful of other folks her age competing in races. They weren’t athletes, she says, but rather older women trying something new.
“I usually manage to beat the ones that weren't really athletes,” she says.
Hawkins has always been an athlete. Before becoming a runner, she was a bicyclist. She's won several gold medals at previous senior Olympics events, but running felt different. She says she gets “a feeling of wonder” that kicks in while running as fast as she can.
On Feb. 10, 2022, Hawkins turns 106 years old. Lately, she says she’s been reflecting on some of the more meaningful times in her life — something she calls “magic moments.”
“Magic moments are like something you see that's unusual that you hadn't seen often before, like a sunrise that was especially pretty or a sunset or a shooting star. Amazing things like that that are so worth watching for,” she says. “You don't have to be wealthy to get to see 'em. You just have to be observant and keep a watch on what's out there.”
It's possible that Hawkins will be having another magic moment coming her way this summer. She says she plans on attending a meet in Florida this June.
Hawkins shows no signs of breaking stride: She wants to run another 100-meter dash — this time at age 106 and in under a minute.
Alana Schreiber of NPR member station WWNO reported this story. Eileen Bolinsky edited the Here & Now segment for air, and Serena McMahon adapted it for digital.
This segment aired on February 10, 2022.