Harriette Thompson has become the oldest woman to complete a marathon after the 92-year-old crossed the finish line in San Diego to a huge ovation.

Thompson came through in 7:24.36, nearly 90 minutes faster than the previous record for a woman over the age of 90.

The marathon veteran, who has fought off cancer three times, saw her training slowed by treatments to her skin which left her with wounds on her legs – something which makes her achievement all the more remarkable.

Added to her struggles, Thompson took time off from her training for the race to care for her late husband Sydnor, who died from cancer in January.

Given the adversity she suffered, Thompson was not at all sure that she would complete the 26.2 miles, but she did in spite of everything.

Before setting out in San Diego, she reflected on the tough circumstances which affected her preparation.

“I’m sure all that weakened me to some extent, so I’m not as strong as I’d like to be but I’m still going to try,” Thompson told Runner's World.

“I’m just going to walk real fast and then run some, and just try not to wear myself down too fast.

“It’ll be sort of interesting. I’ll be the most surprised person if I finish it. I hope I will!”

And finish it she most certainly did, with her run through the tape greeted with raucous cheers from the spectators, who all realised what a tremendous achievement it was.

Thompson has been running the San Diego marathon for 16 years and has raised more than $100,000 (£62,000) for cancer research in that time.

Dan Quarrell