Mathea Allansmith, a retired ophthalmologist, and resident of Kauai became the oldest woman to finish a marathon by completing the 2022 Honolulu Marathon. Born May 31, 1930, she surpassed previous record holder, Harriette Thompson, by several months.
Completing her 23rd marathon in Honolulu on December 11, 2022, Mathea was overjoyed at setting the world record. “I love being out here with this group of people. It’s
electric!”. Following her usual intense training of an average of 38 miles per week of walking and a strict diet, Mathea crossed the finish line on Sunday in 11 hours 19 minutes and 49 seconds in great shape with a big smile on her face.
As one of only two women in her class, Mathea completed UCSF School of Medicine in 1967 to become an ophthalmologist and would later make several medical discoveries while at Harvard Medical School/ Mass Eye and Ear Institute. After a colleague C. Stephen Foster,
M.D. suggested running two miles per day, Mathea took up running in 1977 and fell in love with the feeling of exercising outside. Mathea has continued to train and compete in marathons ever since.
“In Hawaii, I can train 365 days a year because every morning is gorgeous and so many are out and about and generally in good spirits. There’s a whole community out here and I’m grateful to be a part of it.”
Asked what it takes for her to complete a marathon, Mathea replied “A marathon is a spiritual experience for me. I have to train my body for sure but it’s all about getting my mind to enjoy and soak up the experience while it’s happening.”
Mathea is among the growing group of super agers, people living well into old age while maintaining physical and mental abilities. “I don’t ever think about my age. It’s not helpful. Age is never an excuse or a benefit. It’s not genetics I was gifted with either. Health is mostly a choice and it’s a joy to be in good health; that means diet and exercise and I’m all in for that,” says Mathea.