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National Senior Games: ‘Hurricane’ still blazing a trail at 103

Julia Hawkins is a 103-year-old sprinter competing in the 100 meters at the 2019 National Senior Games in Albuquerque. (National Senior Games photo)

Julia Hawkins knows what keeps her going at 103.

It’s part positive thinking, or what she calls, “magic moments,” and part competition – as in running in the National Senior Games.

“As you get older you need challenges,” said Hawkins, a Baton Rouge, La., resident nicknamed, “Hurricane.” She will compete in the 50 meters (Monday), 100 meters (Tuesday), and shot put at the National Senior Games that began Friday in Albuquerque.

“You need passions. I think you need to have a lot of passions because they keep you alive and they keep you alert.”

Two years ago, she became the world-record holder in the 100 meters for women ages 100 or older when she finished in 39.62 seconds. She was bombarded with interviews and featured on ESPN.

“I’m absolutely amazed,” she said of all the media attention. “How did this happen to me? I didn’t think there was anything special in what I did.”

She heard there’s another centenarian competing in the 100 meters on Tuesday morning. But no offense to her competitor – she’s more concerned with herself.

“Hurricane” Hawkins feels just fine at 103, but there’s one problem.

While her knees, back and hips are doing well, she says, her eyesight is troubling her.

“I don’t see well,” she said. “I keep worrying about that. You feel a little less able when something like this happens. I’m hoping I can see well enough to stay in the white lines.”

Hawkins said she has been fascinated by the way she has responded to competition and running in track and field. It has given her new life, she said.

Before, she was into cycling. In the back of her mind she always thought it would be fun to run the 100 meters at 100 years old.

She said she had a good feeling she would be able to do well in the sprints.

Sometimes while working in the backyard, she said she would hear the phone ring on a loud speaker and she would sprint inside to answer it.

She also said she has strong legs from years of cycling.

“I keep active all the time,” she said. “I have an acre of land. I work in it all the time. I have 30 bonsai bushes – some are 40 or 50 years old. That keeps me busy.”

Hawkins enjoys the simple things in life, watching the sun rise and the sunsets. Her positive thinking keeps her going strong.

She has wonderful memories. Her husband, Murray, died eight years ago. They were married for 70 years.

“I was so impressed with him when I first met him,” she said. “I went home and wrote in my diary about him. We had such a good life. Four wonderful children.”

Hawkins said she is a bit concerned with the altitude in Albuquerque.

But overall, she’s just excited to be a part of the National Senior Games.

“I feel like I’ll just have to put up with it,” she said of the altitude. “I won’t be running for a long time. It’s under a minute so it can’t be too bad.”

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