We LIVE for stories of perseverance, grittiness, and determination. We hear them all the time from racers in our community, but we also love to report on inspirational, badass stories from OUTSIDE the Spartan Universe — stories that we can learn from, that can help us become even more unbreakable. In Tough News, we share what we're hearing, why it's important, and why Spartans need to pay attention.
Individuals become the recipient of a Guinness World Record (GWR) for all kinds of insane feats, epic talents and athleticism, and — quite frankly — weird accomplishments. Recent examples include Greta Thunberg, who became the youngest TIME Person of the Year in December 2019. Simone Biles sits at the top of the Guinness World Record's 2021 Hall of Fame for the most medals won at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships. And Otto, the English Bulldog from Peru, set a record for the longest human tunnel travelled through by a skateboarding dog when he passed underneath the legs of 30 people on a skateboard in 2015.
Each of these are incredible and inspiring in their own way. And on Aug. 8, 2021, 100-year-old Edith Murway-Traina joined their ranks when she became the world's oldest competitive female powerlifter — and a Guinness World Record holder.
From the Rec Room to the Gym
Murway-Traina, who always wanted to be a dancer, began going to a recreation center when she was in her late 60s. When her friend at the center, Carmen Gutwirth, decided that she wanted to incorporate more physical exercise into her routine, she convinced Murway-Traina — who admits that she went reluctantly, "kicking and screaming" — to join her.
"She likes to say that she was dragged into the gym kicking and screaming," Gutwirth says in a video posted by Guinness World Records' official YouTube page. "She was not. You don't drag her anywhere ... All you have to do is suggest any activity to Edith and she's right there ... She looks around at anybody that's doing anything and she says, 'Let me try that.'"
By the age of 91, Murway-Traina had become a regular gym-goer and powerlifter.
"Going on a regular basis, I found that I was enjoying it and I was challenging myself to get a little bit better and a little bit better," Murway-Traina says. "Before long, I was part of the team."
An Unlikely Competitor
Murway-Traina admits that she never intended, nor expected, to compete as a powerlifter. But when you continuously work hard, challenge yourself, and push past your limits, success can sneak up and surprise you. In many cases, you end up stunned by what you're capable of accomplishing. That's exactly what ended up happening.
After deadlifting 150 pounds "like it was her purse" — in Gutwirth's words — and getting her first medal, the applause and glory of it all was electrifying to the lifelong performer. So Murway-Traina kept going.
"On we went," she says. "Just give me applause and I'm happy."
Before the pandemic, Murway-Traina last competed at the age of 98 years and 94 days old. As her trainer, Bill Beekley, is currently working with her to restore optimal control of her body and balance in preparation for an upcoming meet, the Guinness record holder says she has no doubt that the applause will continue to come.
"I'm expecting that, in November, I will have another trophy with a whole bunch of applause, and I'll take it from there," Murway-Traina says.
Murway-Traina says that the lessons she learned in her 90s, and from being part of the powerlifting community, are ultimately what have kept her competing.
"I became more aware of the need that people have to be recognized for who they are or what they are or how they are," she says. "It's the most beautiful thing in the world, and I think I survive on that."
Murway-Traina's longtime friend and motivator believes that it is not only recognition and applause that has kept the 100-year-old motivated. Additionally, Gutwirth sees an unmatched amount of grit, determination, and perseverance behind Murway-Traina's astonishing journey.
"Edith kept going because she always keeps going," Gutwirth says. "She will not quit. And anything that's hard, that makes her more determined. If it's easy, she might get bored, but if it's hard, she's going to do it. Nobody is going to tell her, 'Oh, that's too hard for you.'"
The Spartan Takeaway
The Spartan community would be nothing without each and every person that wakes up in the morning ready to face down whatever challenges that the day holds, not with complaints, but with hard work. Members of our community across the globe, and Murway-Traina's incredible record, continue to show us that there is no age, disability, gender, or any other difference or perceived disadvantage that can possibly deter someone from getting out of their comfort zone, doing difficult things, and becoming a better, stronger person because of it.
Murway-Traina was 91 years old when she set aside her doubts and committed to powerlifting on a regular basis, and she now holds a world record. The moral of the story? It's never too late. You're never too tired or too old or too young to get your shit together, sign up for a race, and train hard. Whatever excuse you have is invalid, and no one cares. Just work harder.
A badass 100-year-old who worked her ass off now has a world record. Do you?