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Nearly 90, Ellen Lem Rocks the Disneyland 5K

Lem says she will be back next year for the 10K race.

Just weeks before her 90th birthday, Californian Ellen Lem completed the Disneyland 5K on Sept. 2, making her one of the oldest runners ever to participate in the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna.

Lem walks about 10 laps a day around Juarez Park, near her Anaheim home. She is often accompanied by her two adult daughters, who completed the 5K with her. When she began outpacing her daughters on their excursions the family decided to sign her up for the event, Lem’s first official race.

After the run, she told an interviewer that she looks forward to competing again next year—but at the 10K distance. “I loved it,” said Lem. “To see everyone walking and waving ‘Hi’ to me.”

Growing up in Asia during World War II, Lem and her family had to flee their native Burma and live as refugees in China where she nearly lost touch with her eventual husband. There she served as a volunteer translator for the American Red Cross and was eventually reunited with future husband, an American soldier who brought her to Anaheim where she has lived the past 40 years.