Photo: Sarah Netter

At 101 years old, Julia Hawkins shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, with age, she’s picking up the pace.

Hawkins recently won gold in the 50-meter dash at the National Senior Games in Birmingham, Ala. She beat out others in the 90+ division as she cruised to the finish line in 18.31 seconds. The kicker is she didn’t even begin running until she was 100.

Prior to the race, she told the Washington Post she was cautiously optimistic about her upcoming performance.

“The 50 dash isn’t going to be hard or anything. But you can always fall or have a heart attack or a stroke or something,” she said, matter-of -factly. “I hope not, but you got to figure it could happen at 101. Anything could happen.”

“I enjoy challenges,” she told WBRC. “I lost my husband a few years ago, and I had to fill my life up with something else, and this is one of the things…I knew I could run because the phone always rings when I’m in the yard, and I run in for the phone.”

The Louisiana native and retired schoolteacher began her athletic career at 81 when she started biking.

She’s competed in cycling in four other National Senior Games starting in 1995 and has won gold medals in the 5K and 10K time trials.

“I quit when there was no more competition. Women just dropped off after a certain age,” she said. “But I thought I’d try The Games again after I became 100, just for the heck of it.” (

Hawkins still bikes daily, but these days her competitive focus lies in running.

“With running, it’s just me and my body. I can just go out and do the best I can and not depend on anything else to help me,” she told Runner’s World.

As for her training regimen, she keeps it light, but consistent. She didn’t even begin timing her runs until a month before the Games.

“My friends are mostly too old to even watch me, but I’ll get a younger friend who can come out and time me every day.”

She says the key to a long life is keeping busy, both physically and mentally.

As for what’s next? Who knows? Maybe it will be a new sport.