Most of us can’t imagine setting a world record for athletics – let alone doing it years after we’ve already turned 100. Truthfully, most of us can’t even fathom being able to still walk at that age if we even make it that far. Julia “The Hurricane” Hawkins, however, is challenging everything we’ve ever thought an elderly woman is or isn’t capable of. At 105, she set the world record for the 100m dash for people 105 and up. Two years later, she has no plans to slow down.
Julia Hawkins: A 107-Year-Old Great-Grandmother and Record-Breaking Athlete
Julia Hawkins, a remarkable centenarian, has captured the world’s attention with her athletic prowess and indomitable spirit. At the age of 105, she broke the world record for the fastest 100-meter run at the US Senior Games. Now, at the impressive age of 107, she continues to inspire and defy expectations. Let us delve into Julia Hawkins’ history, achievements, and her current endeavors. (1)
Early Life and Personal Life
Julia Hawkins was born on February 10, 1916, in Wisconsin, USA. Her parents, Julies Welles and Margaret Welles, moved to Louisiana when she was just three months old. Julia met her future husband, Murray Hawkins, at Louisiana State University in 1934, and they married after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. Their marriage was quite unconventional, as Murray was actually stationed in Pearl Harbor at the time. Not being able to leave, the pair got married over the phone.
“We met on the first day at LSU. He was from New Orleans and I was from Ponchatoula, which was a little town. When I saw him and met him and saw how smart he was and good looking, I went home and wrote about him in my diary,” Julia recalled. “He was in Pearl Harbor when it was bombed. While he was out there working for the Navy. So when they sent him out there we were married by telephone. Which was unusual at that time. My father in law went with me to Baton Rouge to see if it was legal in Louisiana. And it was. So we were married by telephone.” (2)
Together, they raised four children – Lad Hawkins, Margaret Matens, Julia “Jugie” Battle, and Warren Hawkins. Julia’s journey through life has not been without challenges, as her brother endured a harrowing experience in a German concentration camp during World War II. Despite the hardships, she exhibited resilience and strength.
A Teacher By Trade
Julia spent most of her life working as a teacher. She worked as a teacher in Donaldsonville and Brusly. Later, she worked in Honduras, teaching the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh grades in a single schoolroom. Beyond teaching, she has been a dedicated mother, grandmother, and now even great-grandmother. She also enjoys gardening, and spends much time outside tending to her gardens.
Masters Athlete Career
Julia’s athletic career didn’t start with running. Before getting into running, she was a cyclist. In fact, she has numerous medals and accolades to her name from the Senior Olympics in cycling. However, she says running is different – it makes her feel things that cycling doesn’t.
“There’s something they’re saying, I forget what they call it. But it gives you the feeling of wonder, kind of. It makes you want to get out and go as fast as you can and do the best you can. You’re just riveted to the moment and the time.” she explained.
Julia Hawkins’ athletic journey began to soar in her centenarian years. At the age of 101, she made history by becoming the oldest woman ever to compete in the USA Track and Field Outdoors Masters Championships. Astoundingly, she completed the 100-meter run in just 40.12 seconds, setting a new world record for women aged 100 and older. Her determination and commitment to the sport continued to shine through as she partnered with Orville Rogers, a centenarian himself, to set 60-meter dash world records at the 2018 Masters National Indoor Track and Field Championship.
Record-Breaking Achievement at 105
At age 105, Julia yet again turned heads when she broke the world record in the 100m dash in the category 105+. She was happy with the accomplishment, she said; however, she didn’t run it as fast as she wanted to. She ran just over one minute, whereas she wanted to break one minute.
“I have done much better than that. It was windy and cold, cold. But on that day it seemed to be the best I could have done with the weather like it was.” she reasoned.
Read: 21 Life Lessons, From A 90+ Year Old Woman Who Knows Her Stuff
Current and Future Plans
Today, Julia Hawkins, at the remarkable age of 107 years and counting, continues to live life to the fullest. She resides in her home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she enjoys spending time with her loved ones. Even in her golden years, she remains dedicated to her physical fitness and participates in athletics events. Julia’s positive spirit, unwavering determination, and infectious enthusiasm serve as an inspiration to people of all ages.
Looking ahead, Julia Hawkins has no plans to slow down. Despite her already incredible accomplishments, she remains grounded and determined to embrace new challenges and set further records. Her zest for life and passion for athletics serve as a reminder that age should never be a barrier to pursuing one’s dreams.
Advice From Julia
Naturally, in her 107 years of life, she has a lot of wisdom about how to enjoy it. Firstly, she says that life’s magic does not reside in big moments but rather in small ones that pass by those who are too busy to notice. Pay attention to the magic moments.
“Magic moments are something you see that you hadn’t seen often before. Like a sunrise that was especially pretty, or a sunset or a shooting star. Amazing things like that are worth watching for. You don’t have to be wealthy to get to see them. You just have to be observant and keep a watch what’s out there.”
Secondly, she says that you should always endeavor to try new things. She urges against getting stuck in a rut or routine that you never push yourself out of.
“I try to do as many new things as I can. I never say no to an invitation. I like to go to plays and musicals and church and all kinds of places,” she said. “When you get old you should have a lot of passions. Passions keep you going. They make you want to live and want to do. Get out there and make new friends and do something new every day.” (3)
She says family is what is most important in life (biological family or the one you choose). Keep those people close and prioritize them, because they will be there for you when the going gets tough. Julia credits her longevity to her family, and also to her staying active and maintaining a fit, healthy body. That being said, she also agrees that it’s important to treat yourself every once in a while.
“Here in Louisiana we have such wonderful fish and oysters and shrimp and crabs. And I like all of them, and they are all better fried than any other way,” she said. “Every now and then I’ll splurge and do something like that.”
Finally, she says to do your best to inspire others. It doesn’t have to be hoards of people, even just a few of those closest to you. Inspiring others to try new things, push themselves, and believe they are capable of everything and more keeps her going.
“If I can be an inspiration to people and keep them a little more healthy and active, I’m proud to do it.”
An Incredible Journey
Julia Hawkins’ remarkable journey as a record-breaking athlete and a beloved great-grandmother has captivated the world. From breaking world records in her centenarian years to defying expectations at the age of 107, her story exemplifies the power of perseverance, passion, and a positive mindset. Julia Hawkins continues to inspire generations young and old, proving that age is just a number when it comes to pursuing one’s dreams and living life to the fullest.
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- “Julia Hawkins.” Gerontology.
- “Louisiana runner Julia Hawkins reaches a new milestone: her 106th birthday.” WWNO. Alana Schreiber. February 10, 2022.
- “7 Pearls of Wisdom From a 103-Year-Old World Record Runner.” Outside Online. Stephanie Hoppe. August 29, 2022.