93-Year-Old Runner Finishes the Paris Marathon

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We often hear the adage “Age is just a number,” and an increasing number of older senior athletes are continuing to prove that point.

Older runners are taking up the sport and competing in races with runners decades their junior.

With that said, while it’s relatively common to see runners in their 70s finishing 5ks, 10ks, half marathons, and even full marathons, it’s quite rare to see a runner in their 90s finish a marathon.

However, the 2023 Paris Marathon on April 2 saw an incredible nonagenarian compete in and finish the full 26.2-mile marathon.

Charly Bancarel was only the third runner in his 90s to ever cross the finish line at the Paris Marathon, and the oldest finisher to date.

Bancarel, who is a 93-year-old runner living in Salers, France, finished the marathon in a time of 7:22:11 (7 hours, 22 minutes, and 11 seconds). 

Though he finished near the back of the pack—placing 50,769th out of 50,800 runners—Bancarel not only outran over 30 competitors in the race, but also every other person who wouldn’t even be able to run 26.2 miles, let alone do so at the age 93.

Another impressive aspect of Bancarel’s marathon finish is the fact that he didn’t even take up running until he was 55 years old. 

His first marathon was the iconic Marathon du Médoc, which he didn’t take on until age 70, far older than most first-time marathon finishers.

The Marathon du Médoc was just the beginning of his marathon journey; Bancarel has already completed 10 marathons.

Reportedly, he runs at least 6 miles per day when he runs. To prevent injuries and reduce the stress on his body, Bancarel cross-trains by cycling every other day, usually riding up to 15 miles. 

According to an article in the UK Daily News, Bancarel remarks, “At the end of each year, I write down how many kilometers I have cycled and run: in 2016, 1,000 kilometers of races and 3,300 of bike, in 2017, 770 and 3,800.”

Bancarel was hoping to break 5 hours in the 2023 Paris Marathon, a stepping stone benchmark to help him get into the Marathon Pour Tous.

The Marathon Pour Tous is essentially the amateur version of the Olympic marathon at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from Bancarel’s inspiring marathon performance is the mantra he chooses to run and live by: “𝗪𝗲 𝗱𝗼𝗻’𝘁 𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗽 𝘄𝗵𝗲𝗻 𝘄𝗲 𝗯𝗲𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗲 𝗼𝗹𝗱 𝗯𝘂𝘁 𝘄𝗲 𝗯𝗲𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗲 𝗼𝗹𝗱 𝗶𝗳 𝘄𝗲 𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗽.”

You can find the full results of the 2023 Paris Marathon here.

Read more about the effects of age on running performance in our article here.

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Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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