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WWII Marine Becomes Oldest to Finish NYC Marathon

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They say it’s the Greatest Generation, and who could argue with this?

Jonathan Mendes became the oldest unofficial finisher of the New York City Marathon last week when he finished the prestigious race after 11 hours, 25 minutes.

His age? 96 years young.

“You have to have goals in life,” Mendes told Runner’s World. “They don’t have to be important. But at this stage I’ve done it all. I’ve skied all over the world. I’ve canoed the great rivers of the world. I flew dive-bombers for the Marine Corps in World War II, and jet fighter attack planes in Korea. And I never got hurt, so I don’t have any bad memories.”

Mendes didn’t exactly run the race – he walked it – which resulted in a 25-minute-per mile pace across the 26+ miles needed to complete the event. Whereas most competitors take about 4 hours, 30 minutes, Mendes completed it in 11 hours, 25 minutes.

Mendes entered the race with the blessing of his doctor and twice-a-week assistance from his personal trainer, according to Runner’s World. His feat is all the more amazing considering last year he withdrew at mile 16 after knee problems.

During World War II, Mendes flew more than 100 missions and then completed 70 more during the Korean War. He even helped train John Glenn and Ted Williams, according to Runner’s World.

He still walks two miles every day in a park near his New York City home.

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