Madonna Hanna took a long path to finding her running passion
written by Jonathan Shipley
photography by Stephen Matera
“Imagine, I woke up one day with an overwhelming desire to run 100 meters,” Madonna Hanna said. “It’s a sport in which I had absolutely no prior experience.” Growing up she didn’t play sports. She watched football. She liked watching the Olympics. She played a little tennis as an adult, but being an athlete was not her path in life. As a fashion marketing teacher, she was closer to the runway than to running. One day, though, she discovered she was a good runner right out of the chute. Hanna, a resident of Tacoma, entered the Washington State Senior Games in 2011. She was 57 and had never competed before. She won the gold medal for the 100 meter. She also took home the gold for the 50 meter. She continued her running dreams and next year, at 68, is heading to Pittsburgh for the National Senior Games and compete in the 50 meter, 100 meter, and 4×100 relay. Her legs may be light but her neck may be weighted with new medals.
“I will continue to race as long as I’m healthy,” she said. It’s been a long road since that epiphany to start running. A car crash prevented her from running a race for three years. She ruptured her Achilles’ tendon in the accident and the recovery took a long while. Her strength back, Hanna returned to the racing circuit, entering the 2017 Washington State Senior Games. She won two more gold medals. She was back.
Tragedy struck again. In 2018, her husband and track mentor, died of cancer after a valiant fight. It was his wish for Hanna to continue running and to qualify for the 2019 National Senior Games that year in Albuquerque. She qualified and fulfilled her husband’s dying wish.
She has stayed on track ever since. She found a new coach, Marcus Chambers. Chambers earned All-American honors as a track and field star at the University of Oregon, propelling the team to five NCAA national titles. Chambers himself, also a resident of Tacoma, is hoping for a gold medal. He’s an Olympic-hopeful in the 400 meters and is training for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
Chambers motivates Hanna, and Hanna motivates Chambers. “Marcus has pledged to coach me until I hang up my spikes,” said Hanna. “Now, that’s commitment!” Those spikes are still quite sharp. “I want to break world records!”
Born: Pensacola, Florida
“I train with Coach Marcus Chambers, in-person, one hour a week. The rest of the week I follow the regime he designed for me: Two days a week at the gym starting with 10 minutes of rowing. Hamstring curls, quad extensions, glute extensions, tricep pull downs, bicep curls, back rows, dumbbell arm swings, pushing a sled, track drills and more.”
“For breakfast, egg white omelet with kale, spinach, mushrooms, onions, and turkey bacon. Smoothies. For lunch, pasta with salmon or tuna. For dinner, salmon, chicken, or turkey with a leafy green vegetable and rice.”
“1964 Olympic gold medalist, Wyomia Tyus; and Allyson Felix, track and field GOAT!”