Jeannie Rice broke the previous record set by Australia’s Lavina Petrie in 2014 with a time of 1:37:07
Photo from Akron Marathon
Seventy-one-year old marathon runner Jeannie Rice’s efforts to break the half marathon world record in her age group finally paid off when she finished the Akron Half Marathon on Aug. 10 with in 1:37:07, breaking the previous record of 1:37:38 set by Lavinia Petrie of Australia in 2014.
How did she do it? The phenom from Mentor, Ohio knew she could set a new world record in her age group after she noticed a fast mile split of 7:01 on her watch between miles 11-12. Rice managed to average a 7:25-mile pace in 13.1 miles, which secured her the record by more than half a minute. The grandmother says the record was a result of months of training and pushing past several close calls.
Rice, who works as a realtor, also currently holds the age group world record for a marathon. In October 2018, she finished the Chicago Marathon eight minutes faster than the previous record after she clocked in at 3:27:50.
The Akron Half Marathon is Rice’s fourth attempt to set a new half marathon world record in her age group. Early this year, she participated in the Naples Half Marathon in Naples, Florida but missed the record by a minute (1:38:42). Her second attempt was in February at the Fort Myers Half Marathon, which she finished in 1:36:16, but unfortunately the course was not eligible for the record. Her third attempt was at the Pittsburgh Half Marathon, which she finished in 1:39:41—just 13 seconds short of setting the world half marathon record.
After that attempt, Rice motivated herself by staring at the previous world record time written on a note taped to her fridge.
“I had the half marathon world record time so I could look at it every day so I could go for that, which is my goal, and now that I did that, I can put down my own record time and now I’ll go after that,” says Rice.
Rice started running at the age of 35. Now, with two world records under her belt, she is determined to beat her own record in the Berlin Marathon in September. The 71-year-old runner also plans to participate in the 2020 Tokyo and Boston Marathons.