At 91, Newly Signed Mizuno Athlete is Ready for 26 th AJC Peachtree Road Race
ATLANTA – July 1, 2016 –Betty Lindberg wasn’t out to set a world record. She didn’t even know what it was. At 91, her only plan was to take part in the 800-meter race at Atlanta Track Club’s All Comers meet on May 24, and maybe earn some points in the club’s Grand Prix Series.
But by the end of the week, Betty Lindberg was a celebrity, thanks to her 6:57.56 age-group world record and national publicity that included a segment on HLN’s “Morning Express with Robin Meade.”
“I hope I’ve been handing it fine,” said Lindberg at Friday’s AJC Peachtree Road Race, when she was asked about coping with her newfound fame. “I’ve been really surprised at the different people who have asked for interviews. I think I have to get an agent.”
She might be right. At the press conference, race sponsor Mizuno announced that, effective on Monday with her 26th AJC Peachtree Road Race, it was signing Lindberg as a member of its racing team, which includes 2015 Boston Marathon champion Caroline Rotich and 2014 USA 10K and AJC Peachtree Road Race champion Christo Landry.
“I plan to live to 100, so they’re stuck with me,” quipped Lindberg, whose enduring wit is surpassed only by her infinite smile.
Maegan Krifchin, who will likely contend to be the top American woman finisher in this year’s July 4 race, presented her new teammate with a team jacket.
“It’s very motivating,” she said. “People think there’s a timeline for your career, but it goes on forever. You can accomplish different things at different points in time. Maybe I’ll try to break her world records in the future. If you’re a runner, you consume that lifestyle, and it’s something I don’t think I’ll ever let go. Betty is just an example of that. She says every year, ‘this is going to be it’ but she always finds a way to keep going, even during a race, and I think that’s what I’ll live by as well: find a way, keep going.”
Lindberg, who lives in Atlanta, didn’t start running until she was 63, when she gave her son and daughter-in-law a ride to Peachtree and saw the variety of people competing. I can do that, she thought. She’s been following Atlanta Track Club’s training program, and plans to race walk the route. Last year, Lindberg finished the race in 1:46.09, a time that included two minutes for a photo stop with her family along the route, where one of her granddaughters sets up a canopy and serves breakfast.
But the number that changed Lindberg’s life was that 6:57.56, and there’s a group of people she wants to thank: the spectators lining the last 100 meters of that world-record race.
“I had been pegging along just as fast as I could, the last one in my group, and all I could think of was ‘just get me to that line,’” she said. “They started clapping and shouting and I said, ‘I can’t just walk my fast walk; I’ve got to run. So I ran that last 100 meters. My running is pretty pitiful, but it was sufficient to break that record by two seconds. If I had walked, I would not have broken that record.”
That’s called “digging deep,” she was told.
“I guess it is!” Lindberg said. “By getting a little encouragement, there’s no telling …,” she trailed off, already thinking about the 100 meters and 400 meters in next year’s Grand Prix Series. (“Now I’ll have to go look up the records,” she added.)
Just as Lindberg automatically lights up a room just by walking into it, she effortlessly inspires just by putting on her running shoes. She doesn’t have to say a thing. But if she did, what would it be?
“You just have to keep trying,” she said. “Don’t ever stop.”
About Atlanta Track Club
Atlanta Track Club is a nonprofit committed to creating an active and healthy Atlanta. Through running and walking, Atlanta Track Club motivates, inspires and engages the community to enjoy a healthier lifestyle. With more than 24,000 members, Atlanta Track Club is the second largest running organization in the United States. In addition to the AJC Peachtree Road Race (peachtreeroadrace.org) – the largest 10K running event in the world, the Publix Georgia Marathon, Atlanta 10 Miler and Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon, Atlanta Track Club directs more than 30 events per year. Through the support of its members and volunteers, Atlanta Track Club also maintains a number of community initiatives including organizing and promoting the Kilometer Kids youth running program to metro Atlanta youth, honoring high school cross country and track and field athletes through Atlanta Track Club’s All-Metro Banquets and supporting the Grady Bicycle EMT program. For more information on Atlanta Track Club, visit atlantatrackclub.org.
About the AJC Peachtree Road Race
The AJC Peachtree Road Race is a 10K event that takes place every Fourth of July in Atlanta, Georgia. The first Peachtree was held in 1970 and featured 110 finishers. The AJC Peachtree Road Race is now the largest 10K running event in the world with 60,000 participants. The AJC Peachtree Road Race is perhaps most famous for the coveted AJC Peachtree Road Race T-shirt, which is handed out to all the event finishers. For more information on the AJC Peachtree Road Race visit peachtreeroadrace.org or AJC.com/peachtree.
About The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is the leading source – both in print and online – of news, information and advertising for metropolitan Atlanta, reaching a total print and online audience of 1.7 million people each week. Every month, nearly 6.4 million unique visitors access the newspaper’s websites, including AJC.com, myAJC.comand accessAtlanta.com. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is part of Cox Media Group, a publishing, digital media and broadcasting subsidiary of Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises.