At 101 years old, Julia Hawkins ran her first race, setting a running record in the 100-meter dash at 39.62 seconds. Her run earned her the nickname “Hurricane.”
This past week Hawkins returned to the National Senior Games in Albuquerque to run the 50 and 100-meter dashes. The games are an Olympic style event for people aged 50 and older. Hawkins is now 103 and is the oldest woman to compete on an American track. While she faced less competition this year and finished six seconds slower than her record time, she is just happy to be moving, telling people, “I’m two years older, remember?”
Hawkins was first a biker, competing in the National Senior Games. Once she got too old to bike uphill, she switched to running at age 100. Even though she loves to run, Hawkins doesn’t have a rigorous training regimen. She runs near her house occasionally, with marks to measure the 50 and 100 meter distances. “As I get older, I feel like I only have so many 100-yard dashes left, and I don’t want to waste them in practice. I’m just pretty good at moving around and I do it when I have to, whatever I have to do,” she said.
A Louisiana native, Hawkins has several passions outside of running. She loves to read and take care of the many bonsai trees and flowers on her property. When talking about her nickname, Hawkins doesn’t believe it’s accurate. Hurricanes are a part of life in Louisiana and if people think it’s cute to describe her that way she says it’s okay. However, Hawkins is often found with a flower in her hair, even while running, so she thinks her nickname should be “Flower Lady” instead.
Even with her running accomplishments, Hawkins is most proud of the simple things in her life. “I’m most proud of my children and my husband. They were the wonderful things in my life — and the grandchildren, and the great-grandson. Those are things you just can’t beat. This other (the running) is just a little icing on the cake,” she said.
With years of life experience under her belt, Hawkins has a lot to say about staying in shape. “Keep your weight down and exercise. Have a lot of passions, things that you are interested in. Keep interested in a lot of things to keep you busy and keep your mind busy,” she said. Hawkins goes to lunch almost every day with friends along with taking care of her many plants.For those of us who might not be so athletically inclined or motivated, Hawkins has life advice for us too. “Keep yourself in good shape if you can. Have many passions. And look for magic moments. That is something that I have done in my life — think of the things that are magic moments that happen to you, like sunsets and sunrises, rainbows, beautiful birds, music and people’s lovely comments to you. All of those are magic moments and they are free for all. Be sure to keep your eye open for them,” she said.