Richmond resident who ran first marathon at 81 featured in Nike campaign

Posted at 6:41 PM, Oct 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-08 18:45:06-04

RICHMOND, Va - A woman who recently moved to the River City is showing up on social media feeds across the world.  Marjorie Kagan was 81-years old when she completed her first marathon, and her story is now featured in a new Nike online ad campaign titled "Late Bloomer."

Kagan lived in New York City for decades.  When her husband passed away, she began taking daily walks in Central Park with her dog, T'zvi.  Around that time, she posed a question to a friend who runs marathons.

"I said to her, 'Do you think I could do the marathon? And she said, 'sure,'" Kagan said.

Her friends and family doubted that at 81-years old she would be able to complete the grueling 26-mile New York marathon, but after seven months of training in 2011, Kagan found herself at the finish line.  Her race was not easy, especially after a man bumped into her 1/4 mile into the race.

"I fell on my face, and absolutely didn't care, I just went," Kagan said.  "I ran across the finish line, and I said, 'I did it!'"

A moment of excitement that seven years later caught the attention of someone working on Nike's social media campaign.  Three weeks ago, Kagan said she received a call from the producers of the ad, and they flew her out to Los Angeles to share her story.

"People said I was crazy to run my first marathon at 81," Kagan says in the spot, which has more than 1 million views on Nike's Instagram and other social media accounts.  "But that's the great thing about being old. . . I can just pretend to not hear them."

The videos feature Kagan talking about her journey to finish the marathon, and end with a black screen with the phrase "It's only crazy until you do it."

Kagan, now 89-years old and living in Richmond, seems more excited about the Nike hat she wore in the commercial than the attention the ad has gotten.  Her son Billy said she told him "it's nice" that her story has been seen by millions of people.  Her up hope is that those who watch the ads take something away from them too.

"If you want to do something and you really want to do it, give it a try. If you think carry on, just do it. . . because that's what I did," Kagan said with a smile.