He set a new world record for his age group!
100-year-old Lester Wright raced to a record-breaking finish in the 100-meter dash at the 2022 Penn Relays, Asbury Park Press reports.
Lester Wright was a high school track star at Long Branch High back in the 1930s. After school, he married his longtime love, Adele, and the two are still married today, some 80 years later. A World War II veteran, he served in the Army, stationed in Europe, dodging bombs at the Battle of the Bulge and earning four Bronze Battle Stars. He eventually came home after the war, pursued his college studies courtesy of the GI bill and started a career in dentistry, opening the first Black-owned dental lab in Monmouth County, New Jersey, where he specialized in prosthetic teeth.
Wright’s lived quite a life and one thing that’s remained consistent is his love for running. Wright would run multiple times a week, well into his older years. In 1999, at the age of 77, he won the 75-and-over 100-meter dash at the Penn Relays. Since then, he’s continued, running through the streets of his Long Branch, New Jersey neighborhood at least three times a week for a mile-and-a-half each time. On April 29th, one day before the Penn Relays, Wright turned 100-years-old. To celebrate the historic milestone, he ran the 100-meter dash in the 2022 Penn Relays, finishing in 26.34 seconds and setting a new 100-meter world record for centenarians. Donald Pellmann set the previous world record for the age group in 2015 when he ran the 100-meter in 26.99 seconds.
“It was pretty nice to be able to do this at age 100. When I came here I was a little bit nervous, but when I saw the crowd and everything I fell right in with it,” said Wright.
He ran against other seniors, 80 years and older, coming in seventh out of nine competitors, just a few paces away from fifth place. Other competitors included a 92-year-old runner and the rest in their 80s, 84-year-old Bob Williamson taking first place at 17.33 seconds. Wright competed for Shore Athletic Club, all 38,000 in attendance at Franklin Field, paying honor to Wright and his fellow runners with a standing ovation.
While Wright described his performance as “slow,” he said he was not tired and really used to longer races since he used to run the 200 and 400 meters.
“At 100 meters, I feel like I’m just getting started. I thought this was nice, but I wanted a longer race,” he explained.
You’re an inspiration Mr. Wright! Happy Belated Birthday!
Photo Courtesy of Jerry Carino/Asbury Park Press