Meet The 81-Year-Old Marathon Runner Who Inspired A City

This year's Honolulu Marathon started early in the morning, so when Richard Kiyabu saw an elderly woman in jogging clothes walking down the road at four in the afternoon, he was concerned.

Kiyabu pulled over to offer the Japanese woman a ride, but got a surprising answer.

“I was thinking, maybe they need a ride, or some assistance. But she’s like, ‘No, I’m going to finish this,'” he told local news station KHON 2.

The woman Kiyabu had come across was Ayako Hayashi, and while it  might have looked like she was struggling, Ayako is clearly in better shape than most of us. The road racer from Saitama Prefecture, Japan only started jogging in her 60s, but this year was already her 17th marathon.

The 81-year-old reveals that she gets up every morning a 4 a.m. to jog a few miles, and that determination helped her finish what proved to be a very tough race.

Another runner, Michael Shiroma, turned back mid-race to run alongside Ayako and help her finish the full 26-mile course.

“People would come by and ask, ‘Is she okay? Is she going to finish?’ She always said, ‘I’m good. I’m going to keep going,'” he says. Shiroma wound up being just one of the many people who joined Ayako during the last leg of her race.

And while she finished dead last out of more than 32,000 runners, Ayako's incredible finish guarantees Honolulu won't forget her.

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