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90-Year-Old Dot Sowerby is Showing Age is Just a Number After Setting New American Half Marathon Record

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90-year-old American runner Dot Sowerby is proving that you’re never too old to become a record-breaking runner.

On September 24th, Sowerby of Greensboro, North Carolina, stood out in the crowd of competitors as she took to the Chicago Lifetime Half Marathon line. She won the race in the 90-94 age group and broke the American women’s 90-94 record in the half marathon.

“I think older people can do anything,” Sowerby said after her convincing win, “and I just like to keep active, and you’re never too old to get out there and run.”

Sowerby, crossing the line in 3:33:47, broke the previous record of 3:42:56 set by Harriette Thompson in 2017 at the Rock N’ Roll Sand Diego Half Marathon. 

Sowerby commented that it was her goal to break the record, and she tailored her training to help her achieve her goal,

“I had looked up her time beforehand, so I was aiming for that time in my practice runs and was confident I could get it.”

This isn’t the first time Sowerby has made headlines for breaking records.

This past July, Sowerby toed the line at the USATF Masters Outdoor Championships in her native Greensboro. 

She broke the women’s world record in the 1500m for over 90, clocking a time of 11:30:62. This result was over one minute faster than Lenore Montgomery’s previous world record of 12:34:67.

Alongside clocking a world record at the championships, Sowerby also collected impressive results. She placed first in the 400m (2:35.33), 800m (5:52.93), long jump (1.05m), and shotput (4.15m), and a second placing in the 100m. 

At the 2023 National Senior Games in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, one week prior, Sowerby would collect six gold medals.

Sowerby spoke about her late introduction to running through her successes that month, “When I came along, they would not let girls in high school and college run because they thought they were too fragile or something. So, I did my first race when I was 50 years old.”

Who is Dot Sowerby?

Sowerby, born in White Plains, New York but has been living in Greensborough, North Carolina since she was younger. She says she’s always been full of energy that was hard to contain.

“I grew up with two brothers and was a tomboy,” she says. “So I was always running, jumping, and skipping. My brothers were athletes who played football and tennis—and when they played games with the neighborhood boys, they’d always get me to join.” 

Although she played various sports throughout her time in high school and university, running was still not widely accepted as a “women’s sport.”

Many people, including race organizers and her friends, discounted Sowerby or encouraged her to hang up her running shoes.

In her first race, ran at age 50, the registration age range ended at 50.

“I told the race organizers, ‘Next year, I’ll be older and you won’t even have my age group!’” She says. “And they said they never thought anyone ran after the age of 50. Since then, I’ve always been pushing the age category more and more.” 

Sowerby’s training involves a mix of different types of exercises including walking, running, swimming, and even the exercise classes at her retirement home. She says that she does something everyday and tries to get as much exercise in as she can.

Alongside this, Sowerby says she sticks to a sensible diet which includes many vegetables, from her own garden plot, limited but daily meat consumption, and not too many sweets and chips. 

What’s Coming Up for Dot Sowerby?

After smashing records, Sowerby says she’s far from being finished and is already preparing for her next race, the Greensborough 10k. She also has a few more 5k races planned and the Greensborough Turkey Trot 10k.

Sowerby says it’s always helpful to have a goal and have something to train for.

“I find that if I go a few weeks without training, I can sure tell the difference. It’s so important for me to keep running.” Sowerby says.

Her passion and enthusiasm for the sport are inspiring, and she says her mission is to motivate others to run, regardless of how old they may be.

“You’re never too old to start running. If I can inspire someone that way, that’s what I want to do.”

Photo of author
Jessy has been active her whole life, competing in cross-country, track running, and soccer throughout her undergrad. She pivoted to road cycling after completing her Bachelor of Kinesiology with Nutrition from Acadia University. Jessy is currently a professional road cyclist living and training in Spain.

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