The Fastest Centenerians in the World: Don Pellmann and Hidekichi Miyazaki and Stanislaw Kowalski

Don Pellmann, picture by Sandy Huffaker for The New York Times
Don Pellmann, picture by Sandy Huffaker for The New York Times

Last Sunday at the San Diego Senior Games, a man named Don Pellmann set records in the 100-meter dash, the shot put, the discus and the long jump.

Yes, he ran the 100 in 26.99 seconds (which is over 17 seconds slower than Usain Bolt’s world record), but Pellmann set the record for the 100-and-over age group. In fact, Pellmann is exactly 100 years of age.

Successful athletes, scientists, businessmen, students know this. You need to set goals and targets, and sometimes to drive you to incredible heights, you need aspirational targets. According to this wonderful New York Times article, Pellmann targeted the world record for 100 and overs –  29.83 – which had been held by a Japanese man, Hidekichi Miyazaki, since 2010. So he marked off 100 meters at his home and ran it once a week.

Within a week of Pullmann’s record, Miyazaki set the world record for the 100 meter run for the over-105 category with a time of 42.22 seconds. That’s right. Miyazaki is 105 and still flying down the track. His quote in this Japan Times article is priceless: “I’m not happy with the time,” the pint-size Miyazaki said in an interview after catching his wind. “I started shedding tears during the race because I was going so slowly. Perhaps I’m getting old!”

Hidekichi Miyazaki, AFP-JIJI
Hidekichi Miyazaki, 105, imitates the pose of Usain Bolt after the 100-meter-dash in the Kyoto Masters Autumn Competiton in Kyoto on Wednesday. Miyazaki has been recognized as the oldest sprinter who competed in a 100-meter-dash by the Guinness World Records. | AFP-JIJI

But then again, as it was revealed in this NBC Sports blog report, Stanislaw Kowalski has the fastest time in the world for the 0ver-105 year old category, as he ran the 100 meters in 34.50 seconds. Despite the fact that Miyazaki’s time is officially recognized by Guinness World Record, Kowalski of Poland set that record in June.

At any rate, these gentleman can run.

Whether you’re an up-and-coming high schooler dreaming of winning your state conference championship, or a 75-year old with hopes of winning the decathlon at the World Masters’ Athletic Championships, you are often cut from the same cloth – a personality rooted in the need for competition, and a desire for victory.

As the science of health and medicine continue to evolve and improve our chances of longer life, the number of highly competitive septuagenarians, octogenarians, nonagenerians, centenerians who will want and need outlets for competition will grow. And the targets will continue to rise.

The records that Pellmann set in San Diego will soon be toppled, likely first by Pellmann himself, and later on by other centenarians who will use Pullmann’s marks as motivation to go faster.

May we all live to be 100. May we all be so motivated and accomplished at that age.