Record Breaker

What do you imagine you’ll be doing the day after turning 100 years old?

Last month, WWII veteran Lester Wright celebrated in style, setting a new world record in the 100 meter dash, in front of thousands of track fans. He crossed the line to a standing ovation, finishing seventh out of nine runners, beating an 86-year-old and 92-year-old. Mr. Wright ran the 100-meter dash in Philly’s Penn Relays — running a meter for every year of his life.

Not only did he run it, but he did so at an impressive 26.34 seconds, breaking the previous record of 26.99 seconds, set by fellow American Donald Pellmann at age 100 in 2015. 

According to USA Today, Wright ran track for Long Branch High School in the 1930s. He married his teenage sweetheart Adele then went off to Europe with the Army during World War II, evading bombs at the infamous Battle of the Bulge and earning four Bronze Battle Stars. Then he came home, went to college on the GI Bill, and opened the first African American-owned dental lab in Monmouth County, New Jersey, making prosthetic teeth.

Wright said to the media post-race that he was inspired by having his wife, children, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren in the stands to watch. This world master’s record is not Wright’s first. He broke the 75+ (age bracket) world 200m record 24 years ago at age 76.

The new reigning world’s fastest 100-year-old man competed for his hometown Shore Athletic Club, a community athletics organization out of Spring Lake, NJ.

Lester told the media at the relay, “It was pretty nice to be able to do this at age 100,” Wright said. “When I came here, I was a little bit nervous, but when I saw the crowd and everything, I fell right in with it.”

He added, “At 100 meters, I feel like I’m just getting started. I thought this was nice, but I wanted a longer race.”

He used to run the 200 and 400 meters.

Wright and his wife Adele have been married for 81 years. They have four children, six grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, and 11 great-great-grandchildren.

It doesn’t matter how old you are. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been a life-long athlete or never even tried. As Dante DiMatteo said, “Move because you can.” The ability to exercise and push ourselves, whether it’s a 100-meter dash at 100 or just walking to the end of the block and back, is a gift from God. We move because you use it or lose it. We move because it keeps us healthy and enables us to push past what we thought we could do. We move because we can.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penn_Relays
https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/2022/05/01/penn-relays-100-year-old-lester-wright-thrills-crowd/9607354002/

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