Ogden, Utah resident Mary Allen Hardison now holds the record as the “Oldest Female to Paraglide Tandem” according to Guinness World Records, an amazing achievement.
What possessed the centenarian to undertake such a risky hobby? She didn’t want to be outdone by her 75-year old son, Allen, who had taken up the sport not long ago. Hardison thought she should be able to do the same things he could do and planned to make the record-setting journey as part of the festivities for 101st birthday.
Hardison made her trip in tandem with her paragliding instructor Kevin Hintze. He called her “hard core.” This is no surprise to those who know her. She is known for her determination. When granddaughter Diane Swain first learned of her grandmother’s plans, she was against it. When Swain considered her grandmother’s resolve, she knew that once her grandmother’s mind was made up, there would be no changing it.
Hardison described the ride as fun. She said it was like going up in an elevator, very slowly. There were a couple of bumps but otherwise, she described it as smooth. Hardison said life was full of ups and downs so why shouldn’t paragliding have a couple of ups and downs? When asked if she was afraid at all, she replied she was not. She was smart and watched a good many others go up and come down without incident and they all seemed happy, so she had no cause for concern.
Not known for being an adventure sports enthusiast, this grandmother has no plans for any other risky adventures. When asked what else she has tried, she said she had ridden all the rides at Disneyland when she was 90 and she would like to ride the 3000-foot Alpine Slide at Utah’s Park City Mountain Resort.
The previous female paragliding record was held by Margaret Mackenzie McAlpine of the United Kingdom who set it at the age of 100 in 2007. Hardison says she encourages anyone older than she to break her record. She says the experience is well worth it. She thinks it is funny that people make such a big deal out of her accomplishment. She says it is important to stay fit an active though because friends don’t like you to be grumpy.