April 25, 2023

77 Year Old Nurse Runs 37th Straight Boston Marathon

77 Year Old Nurse Runs 37th Straight Boston Marathon

Image: Patty Hung

Patty Hung, a 77-year-old registered nurse from the bay area, has accomplished a remarkable feat - completing the Boston Marathon for the 37th year in a row! 

This accomplishment has made history, as she is the first woman to have completed the 26.2-mile race this many times in a row. She crossed the finish line with a time of 5 hours, 40 minutes, and 37 seconds, placing 9th in the division of women aged 75-79.

In last year’s race, she was tied for the longest active consecutive run among women at her 36th run, and she broke that streak this year for running a 37th consecutive time. 

On an interview with the podcast Women Running Stories, she emotionally told the story of her first time running and cried recalling the event. "I was sitting around a beautiful Lake Merritt in Oakland, and I was watching these people run past me, and the lake is about three miles around. And I did have some kind of athletic shoes on, and I said, 'You know, I think I'm going to try this.' So, I got up, started running, ran around the lake."  

>> Click to See the Top Cheapest, Fastest, Online MSN Programs

Starting a Journey in Running!

Hung started running in her late 30s and was determined to keep going even after she ran her first Boston Marathon in 1987. Born and raised in Boston, even after moving to the Bay area, her family would often come and cheer her on at the race. Some of her family members, including her sons, were motivated by her to start running in the marathon as well. Patty told the podcast, "People who were my family were all now running with me in Boston, and then it just kept escalating to be a big family thing."

She currently works as a pediatric nurse on the night shift at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital (BCH) Oakland. Prior to becoming a nurse, she was a high school math teacher.  She told Cherie Turner from the podcast, "When I was teaching at Miramonte High School, a few of my students started running Boston, and of course, I had all these Boston Marathon bibs on the walls in my classroom, and that inspired a lot of kids," 

Image: Patty Hung for Women’s Running Stories Podcast

Running as a source of healing

In an emotional interview with the podcast, she shared how running has helped her especially regarding the trials and tribulations she has gone through. Running has helped her find control saying, "I got divorced. My life was pretty much in disarray. I wanted a purpose in my life, so I could help my own psyche of being a mom with three young children and no husband; I wanted something that would challenge me to be strong in my mind and have a purpose. And I decided I’m going to run the Boston Marathon."

Patty's dedication to running has not only inspired her family but also her colleagues at BCH. The hospital's President, Matt Cook, expressed pride in Patty's achievements, saying, in an interview with KTVU, "We are so proud of Patty, whose hard work and perseverance in her work as a nurse at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland is mirrored in her dedication to competing in the Boston Marathon."

Image: UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals Facebook

In an interview with her niece Hannah Donnelly, with NBC, she recalls that she wore some of the first women’s running shoes that were made, and before that, she was wearing men’s small shoes.   “When I get to mile 13, I know it’s downhill from there, even if it’s uphill once I reach Heartbreak Hill, I know it is a reality that I can finish” 

When asked why she keeps going back to run the Boston Marathon year after year, Patty's answer is simple yet powerful, “When my son died in 2017, your family came out, and we all did a beautiful track workout, and it made me feel that we are still all together, and that’s what keeps me going.” Her family has been her biggest support system throughout her journey, and they continue to be her coaches, making her feel like she can still do it. “It [running] gives me joy, it gives me purpose, it  gives me time to be with my family.” 

Throughout the podcast, she kept reiterating that she never desired to beat a record and "It goes back always to my family; my sons are all there for me, and they are now my coaches," "They make me feel that I still can do this."

For Patty Hung, running the Boston Marathon is not just about completing the race, but it's about the challenge every year and being with her family. She emphasizes that  "It was [the] discipline of this challenge every year. It was the purpose of being with my family and sharing all of this excitement with my family. So, all of that made me want to do it again and again and again. And here I am at 37!" 

Image: Twitter

Patty's story is a testament to the power of determination and the importance of finding purpose in life. She never aimed to break any records but instead found joy in the discipline and challenge of running the Boston Marathon every year. She told Turner "I'm just going to keep it going as long as my body allows me to and my mind. The purpose of running the Boston Marathon was no longer to just run the marathon," 


Go to the top of page