December 17, 2022 3 min read 13 Comments
Photo By Rob Jerome.
By Ray Glier
Lynne Hurrell has ricocheted from backpacking to ballroom dance instructor to fencing to cross country skiing to sled dog racing. Then she ran six marathons. After that it was 5Ks. She is good on her feet, as you might have guessed.
She’s 88 now.
And still pretty darned good on her feet.
Lynne is closing the outdoor track & field season with the third-best time in the world (W85-89) in the 400 meters (2:10.28), the second-best time in the world in the 800 (5:12.45), and ranked third in the 1500, all according to certified times at www.mastersrankings.com.
Lynne took gold medals in the 400, 800 and 1500 and javelin at the 2022 World Masters Athletics meet in Finland when she was the only person entered in the events. While there were no other competitors in the events, she faced much stiffer competition than any human could offer: mortality. It is no exaggeration to say most of us will be overjoyed to be upright and running at 88.
We should also be impressed by Lynne’s lifelong willingness not just to stick a big toe into cold water, but to jump in with both feet when something new comes along. It must have been hard to out-dare a younger Lynne Hurrell, whose cognitive development surely leaned toward “play.”
“When something comes along, you shouldn’t feel limited and say ‘I can’t do that’,” says the woman who has run behind dogs and flashed a sword. “Don’t feel limited.”
Lynne, though, felt somewhat limited with track & field when she joined the Sierra Gold track team 10 years ago.
“I never even thought I would be on a team and going to all these different events,” she said. “I didn’t think the coach would want someone like me on the team. It is a really good team and everybody expects the best from us.”
It is fitting that Lynne grew up in Culver City, California, home to the stars of the big screen and fantasies galore. She seems to have a sense of adventure that matched the identity of MGM Studios, whose main lot was a mile from her home.
Lynne was born in 1934 and she remembers the stagecoaches from the western flicks rolling down the streets from studio to studio. The mogul Louis Mayer had turned Culver City into the place where dreams started for countless Americans on Washington Blvd., and Overland Avenue, and Culver Blvd. Clark Gable, Judy Garland, Fred Astaire roamed there.
“I was always active, and I don’t know about the location working in that direction,” she said when asked if her adventurous spirit came from movies being made down the street.
“I took riding lessons in the 6th grade and was always playing games and galloping down the street pretending to ride my horse. We played cowboys and Indians with the boys and shooting each other with our wooden guns with rubber bands.”
Lynne’s home was on Pickford Way, across Ballona Creek from MGM, and those were the days you could romp through the streets and fields of Culver City, unrestricted by organized sports, not that there were any organized sports for girls.
“I was a tomboy,” Lynne said. Of course she was.
She has not stopped working against norms. Others might be content to walk at 88, but merely walking, not attempting to run, is for other people to do, not Lynne, not yet.
“When I go a couple of days and I haven't done some running, I feel like I'm going backwards,” Hurrell said.
Running has served a lifestyle and daily purpose, too. When her husband became ill and she became his caregiver, Lynne would go out and run 20 minutes.
“That was my relaxation and my away time,” she said. “When I would come back I was able to keep on doing it. I could think and get away from it all while running.”
She hurt her back lifting her dog out of the car, which curbed her distance running for a while. But on Thanksgiving, Lynne was back at it with a 5K Turkey Trot.
Lynne lives on five acres in Grass Valley, Ca., and she understands her limitations over the rocky, uneven landscape. She watches her step to avoid a fall, something that could incapacitate her and knock her off her precious feet.
“I run on the track,” she said. “Off the track, I pick my spots carefully.”
Lynne’s feet, after 88 years, are still her best friends. She wants to use them a while longer, which is already longer than most of us.
Lynne celebrates at The Huntsman World Senior Games.
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