Health Tips from a 100 Year Old Runner

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In this podcast episode we speak with Jonathan de Sola Mendes a 100 year old veteran of WW2 and the Korean War who completed the New York City Marathon at the age of 96!

Interview with Jonathan de Sola Mendes

Jonathan de Sola Mendes was born November 3rd, 1920.

As a dive bomber pilot in the Marine Corps, Jon flew over 100 missions in World War II, receiving two Air Medals for his service overseas. After graduating from Harvard Business School, he then served as a Marine Corps colonel in the Korean War, flying over 70 missions and receiving an additional 8 Air Medals including the Distinguished Flying Cross. He trained John Glenn (who became the first American astronaut to orbit the earth) and the famous baseball player Ted Williams.

His business career included working for a small manufacturing company and on Wall Street as a corporate financial consultant in mergers & acquisitions.

At the age of 46 he quit smoking and started jogging. He ran his first marathon in his 50’s. He’s the oldest person to complete the Marine Corps Marathon (at age 91) and the New York City Marathon (at age 96).

He tried four times to finish a marathon in his 90s but had to drop out due to physical challenges. In 2016 he successfully became the oldest unofficial finisher of the New York City Marathon, crossing in 11 hours and 23 minutes. See Runner’s World article on him. In total he’s run the NYC Marathon 16 times.

He’s also had a lifelong love of skiing beginning in the 1930s. He skied all over the world until he had to quit at the age of 93. He also canoed down the Yukon River in Alaska at the age of 80!

Daily exercise is one of his longevity tips and even at the age of 100 he goes for a 30 minute walk everyday. Another tip Jonathan shares is to always have a purpose in life. His purpose now at 100 is to share his story and inspire others to get off the couch and add years to their life.

Check out his book 26 Miles at 96 Years.

Also Mentioned in This Episode

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10 Responses to Health Tips from a 100 Year Old Runner

  1. Jola B April 25, 2021 at 6:14 am #

    Amazing life and story. Jonathan is such an inspiration. I am planning on playing this interview to my son that just started Boy Scouts. I think anyone will find a lot to learn from or reflect on from listening to this podcast . Thank you Jonathan for sharing you life story.

    • Trevor Spencer April 26, 2021 at 1:45 pm #

      Thanks for sharing!

  2. Jonathan Mendes May 5, 2021 at 10:53 am #


    • Jonathan de Sola Mendes May 5, 2021 at 10:57 am #

      I am humbled by your words….Jon

    • David Murnaghan August 6, 2021 at 1:52 pm #

      I met this man today while he was out on his walk. A real gentleman and inspiration for how to love your life

    • Isabel Carmichael February 23, 2023 at 4:01 pm #

      Good afternoon, Jon Mendes,

      I wrote you a message on Geni and am writing one here. I am Mary Carr Thomas’s daughter, Isabel Carmichael. Mary Carr and Tina Safranski Fredericks were lifelong friends who both grew up in New Rochelle, where you did, too. Tina met my father, however, before my mother did and I am wondering if you might know whether Tina and my mother met each other in New Rochelle or afterward, because they were roommates on Grove Street in Greenwich Village after college.
      Do you have any idea how Tina met Mary Carr?
      Best regards, Isabel Carmichael (I was also a nationally ranked runner.)

  3. Helen Lane May 8, 2021 at 3:43 am #

    Jonathan de Sola Mendes….you are soooooo hard. I listened to your interview on my last run……I couldn’t believe it until I got home and googled you! You are more than inspiring….I have listened to your tips and I’m going to exercise everyday of my life.

  4. Sue Landa May 23, 2021 at 8:58 am #

    Just a wonderful interview and inspiring! I started running at age 63 on a dare from my husband. My first race was a half marathon and I got hooked. This is a podcast I needed to hear as I just turned 72 and finished my 9th marathon (and over 50+HM). I listened carefully to your suggestions on diet, exercise, and goals. All such great advice for this silver haired runner who loves all the moments running brings into my life. You got life right – – and thanks for sharing your life with all of us!

  5. Carol de Solla January 23, 2022 at 6:38 pm #

    I just bought a second copy of your book Uncle Jonathan! The first was a gift for my friend. I thought I ought to get my own copy. You inspired me to take up running last year. It’s made such a huge difference to my life – for the better; I’ll never look back.

  6. Mackie Kazdoy June 1, 2022 at 10:18 am #

    My husband and I met you in New York last week when we waited out that rainstorm at the corner market. You were so friendly and charming! Then we looked you up and are inspired by all that you have accomplished and continue to do. But my favorite thing is what a friendly guy you are. 🙂
    Mackie Kazdoy

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