Chau The Centurion

Chau Smith will be the wonderful age of 73 when she runs for her Abbott World Marathon Majors Six Star medal in Tokyo two months from now.
With more than 100 marathons to her name, Chau – a US citizen originally from Vietnam - has many running accolades to her name. The three-time Boston Qualifier is one of the oldest women to complete the seven continents in seven days aged 67, and she’s completed a marathon in all 50 US States.
Her tenacity and ability to endure even the toughest obstacles started from the beginning. Born in 1947, her father was killed during the war in Vietnam the same year, forcing her mother into hiding. It was only when she turned three that her birth was officially registered (so she will actually be 76 when she completes her Six Star journey, but it is the age on her passport that she must use for her running endeavors.)
She moved to the US in 1969, married her husband Michael in 1983 and ten years later her four siblings and their families (25 of them) started to arrive in the U.S. Following a lengthy sponsorship process, the emotional and financial stress of helping them settle in, on top of running her own business – Chau’s Alterations- took its toll.
Chau developed back and neck problems and was on the brink of having back surgery when she decided to stop riding behind her husband during his marathon training runs, and instead join him. The transition from supporter to runner was transformative for Chau. It helped build her confidence and manage her pain. Running continues to be a healthy choice for her.

100 marathons and counting for Chau

 “I run to stay healthy, and it has always helped me manage stress in my life.”
Chau did not set out to run the Abbott World Marathon Majors, but the idea evolved as the marathon count increased (110 at the last check). She and Michael started taking their vacations to worldwide destinations where they could combine it with running a marathon.
“The strength of our relationship is in doing things together.  Our common interests are running and travel. Running has kept us healthy and traveling enables us to develop an appreciation of other people and other cultures.”
Running the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in 2003 for her first star, she made it to Boston ten years later to run her Majors PR of 4:30:18. Five years later it was time for Major number three in New York City; London in 2021 and Berlin in September last year for her penultimate star.
“Tokyo will be the crown jewel of my marathon career that has spanned 40 years. We’ve never been to Japan, so this really will be a trip of a lifetime.”
As running in your 60s and 70s becomes more common, Chau has some tips for others looking to follow in her footsteps.

“My advice is always start slow — walking or running a short distance. It helps if you have other people who are in the same shape, for mutual support. Join a local running club. I was lucky to have my husband to start running with. He always brags that he helped me become a runner. Now, he runs after me.”

Always consult a physician and get a full health evaluation prior to marathon training. Even if athletes appear healthy after treatment or surgery, or to have a disorder under control, underlying medical conditions could exist.

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