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100-year-old WWII veteran runs in Penn Relays

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A 100-year-old runner from New Jersey had spectators in a packed arena standing on their feet as he raced against eight other senior athletes.

Lester Wright, of Long Branch, celebrated his 100th birthday with a 100-meter dash at Penn Relays – the nation’s oldest track and field competition, according to FOX 29 Philadelphia.

Wright, who became a centenarian on Friday, April 29, traveled to the competition’s venue in Franklin Field at the University of Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia campus. His race was held on Saturday, April 30.

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“I hadn’t [run] in three years because I was ill,” Wright told FOX 29’s Marcus Espinoza after his race. “This is the first race since my recovery.”

“I think it’s in the head, more than it is physical,” Wright continued.

Wright participated in Penn Relay’s “Event 590” race for “Masters Men’s 100m dash 80 and older” on Saturday afternoon. 

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He completed his 100-meter run with a finish time of 26.34 seconds, which earned Wright seventh place out of nine, according to Penn’s online race results.

Lester Wright celebrated his 100th birthday by running a 100-meter dash on April 30, 2022, at the 126th annual Penn Relays track and field event.
(Fox News Media/FOX 29 Philadelphia)

The timing is certainly impressive compared to the current 100-meter world record holder – Jamaican Olympian Usain Bolt – who ran the same distance in 9.58 seconds at the 2009 IAAF World Championships when he was age 22.

Compared to Bolt’s world record, Wright’s time is nearly three times as long, but the pair have a 65-year age gap and training background.

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Even still, Wright impressed people who were in the stands at around 1:35 p.m. on Saturday.

The “entire stadium” was “on their feet for Lester Wright,” tweeted FloTrack – a track and field news website.

It has yet to be confirmed, but Wright’s run time could beat the current Masters M90 100-meter world record that’s held by Donald Pellmann, who notched a 26.99-second record in 2015 at age 100 in the division’s 100-104 men’s category, according to the Times of San Diego.

Fox News Digital reached out to Penn Relays for comment on whether Wright is the oldest participant it has had in its 126-year history.

Wright ran the race for the Shore Athletic Club, a community athletics organization in Spring Lake, New Jersey.

The club publicly congratulated Wright on Facebook for “getting the biggest roar of the day.”

Wright is also a World War II veteran, according to FOX 29.

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