The oldest finisher of the New York City Marathon, 86-year-old Joy Johnson, will be remembered at a funeral near her childhood home of Cologne, Minn., as a marvel of endurance and an inspiration to other runners.
The Star Tribune reports Johnson died on Monday — one day after completing her 25th New York marathon and hours after her annual post-race “Today Show” interview with Al Roker.
The retired gym teacher didn’t take up running until her mid-50s, but within a few years was running as many as a dozen events each year.
“I always say I’m going to run until I drop,” she told the New York Daily News in an interview before her final marathon. “I’m going to die in my tennis shoes. I just don’t know when I’m going to quit.”
Johnson finished Sunday’s marathon in 7 hours, 57 minutes, despite a fall that left cuts on her face and other injuries. Pictures from her stop at the “Today Show” Monday showed bandages on the right side of her face and the marathon medal around her neck.
Johnson died at a New York hospital after she was found unresponsive in her hotel room.
Funeral arrangements by the Johnson Funeral Home in Waconia are pending.