At age 83, Barbara Humbert dreams of taking part in next year's 'Marathon for All’ race at the Paris Olympic Games.
It is the first event of its kind, permitting amateur athletes to run the same race path as the Olympic marathon athletes.
Humbert has a history of success suggesting she could beat some runners half her age.
Not your usual great-grandmother, the German-born Frenchwoman runs 50 kilometers a week. She has competed in many marathons - and has the medals to show for it.
"It's extraordinary to have the Olympics in Paris," said Humbert at her home in Eaubonne. The town is one hour's drive north of Paris. "It would be a gift for my 60th marathon," she added. "For me it would be a crowning achievement."
However, Humbert is unsure if she will get to compete in the race because the number of runners is limited.
In marathons, runners often receive race bibs – a piece of paper with a number on it to identify the runner. Race bibs for the Marathon for All will be limited to 20,024, to be chosen in a random draw.
Humbert’s husband Jacques is her biggest supporter. He is helping where he can. He is waiting to hear from the sports ministry about the request to reserve a bib for his wife. The ministry was not immediately available for comment to the Reuters news agency.
Many medals hang in the entrance of Barbara and Jacques’ home.
They remind Barbara of all the races she has been part of, from Athens to Boston and many other cities. She estimates that she has run about 8,000 kilometers in those races.
More than 40 years after she first started racing, Humbert beat a world record in her group during the French athletics championships last year.
She ran 125 kilometers in 24 hours.
How did she do it? By training a lot, and being careful with her diet, she said.
Humbert wants others to follow in her footsteps. She said of running, "It gives you balance. You run, you empty your head, you feel so much better afterwards."
Barbara is not planning to stop anytime soon. "As long as my joints don't cry out in pain, I will keep running," she said.
I’m John Russell.
Noemie Olive and Lucien Libert reported on this story for Reuters. John Russell adapted it for VOA Learning English.
Words in This Story
amateur – n. a person who does a sport for fun and not as a job
medal – n. : a piece of metal with designs and words in honor of a special event or an achievement
crowning achievement –n. the most important thing that a person has ever done
random – adj. chosen, done without a particular plan or pattern
draw –n. the act of choosing someone from among many choices without knowing who will be chosen