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74-year-old woman to participate in ‘hottest race on Earth’ in Scottsdale

(Courtesy photo)

PHOENIX — In one month, hundreds of runners will gather in the Phoenix area to beat the heat in the so-called “hottest race on Earth.”

But one of those runners will stand out from the rest: A 74-year-old woman will be the oldest participant in this year’s Beat the Heat race in Scottsdale.

Franceska Drozdz told KTAR News 92.3 FM that she didn’t even consider running until the 1970s, when she was in her thirties and her husband was stationed at an Air Force base in Hawaii.

“Now, the only kind of running I had ever done was running to catch a bus, or running to get the water on the stove,” she said.

“You got to understand that women weren’t allowed to sweat — let alone run. (But) I’ve always been a risk-taker.”

Drozdz completed her first marathon in her late thirties.

She told friends exactly what she wanted as a reward: “I’m going to sit under a tree in Kapiolani Park [in Honolulu, Hawaii]. I want a six-pack of Heineken, a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, and a pack of cigarettes.

“And, I don’t want anybody around me.”

That first try sparked a love of running that has stayed with her.

Drozdz said running helps her plan talks for her inspirational-speaking engagements, keeps her young and healthy and keeps her 50-year marriage intact.

“There’s been times when I wanted to wring his neck, but I went for a run and I came back,” she said.

The Beat the Heat race will take place on June 16. It will be the first marathon of its kind since 2013.

And while temperatures that day could reach upwards of 110 degrees, race organizer Mark Scerbo said the event is helping Scottsdale embrace the heat and promote summer tourism at the same time.

Scerbo said runners will have medical help available at the field if necessary.

“You’ve got the (Scottsdale) Fire Department and Maricopa Ambulance keeping an eye on things,” he said.

“We’ll have water stations; Occasionally, they will turn on the sprinklers.”

The Beat The Heat marathon will be part of the Scottsdale Fahrenheit Festival. Some other aspects to the festival will include live music, jalapeno-eating contests and Hot Tamale candy for the kids.

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