While “Geriatric Millennials” complain online about their joints cracking in their 30s, someone’s great-great-grandfather was off to the races.
On Friday, Apr 30. Lester Wright turned 100 years young. By Saturday, May 1., the New Jersey centenarian crossed the finish line of the 100-meter dash at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, said to be the oldest and largest track and field competition in the country, according to abc7NY.
Wright competed against 80-somethings but held his own. He finished the race, clocking an impressive 26 seconds. Competing for Shore Athletic Club, Wright crossed the line seventh of nine competitors, just a couple of strides from fifth place. He received a standing ovation from the crowd of 38,000 at The Franklin Field.
Wright is as fascinating as one would think. He served in World War II in a segregated unit responsible for burying the dead from the Battle of the Bulge in 1945. He later became a sergeant. Once he returned to America, Wright went to college on the GI bill. Then, he and his wife, Adele Wright, opened the first African American-owned dental lab in New Jersey, making prosthetic teeth.
“The businesspeople in Long Branch said, ‘Those people will never make it for six months,’” Wright told ABC news cameras. “And we made it for 38 years.”
While Wright ran track for his high school team in the 1930s, he picked up the healthy hobby again later in life. At the age of 77, in 1999 he won the 200 meters at the Penn Relays, the ABC affiliate reported.
“I guess it’s really something that you don’t often hear about, and it seems like it would be somewhat novel if I can get out there and really perform,” Wright said.
Wright attributes his success to doing everything with his wife. The couple has been married for eight decades. “We bowled together. We ran together. We played together. We went to the movies together,” he said.
Mrs. Wright recently turned 98.
The couple’s family has extended to great-great-grandchildren, and they live independently in their New Jersey home.
Wright told USA TODAY, “At 100 meters, I feel like I’m just getting started. I thought this was nice, but I wanted a longer race.”