This Sunday, 39,000 people will run the 37th London Marathon. A select few, including 83-year-old Ken Jones, have run every single race since its conception in 1981.
The retired civil servant is a member of a slowly dwindling band of ever-presents; this year the group that formed a club of 42 in 1995 is expected to be down to just 11 men.
“I used to find running easy, but it’s really hard work now,” Jones, the race’s oldest entrant, said. “I am going to be at it for about seven hours in the race. That’s how long it takes an old guy!”
“The marathon has changed a lot over the years. The crowds seem to get bigger and everything gets better every year.
“But at the beginning, it was dreadful. There were no toilets at the start in Blackheath and you had to go in bushes. They had buses for all the bags and you just put them on there – it was chaos. At the end you’d have to find them yourself.”
British Olympic hero David Weir is bidding for a seventh London Marathon wheelchair title on Sunday and race director Hugh Brasher believes victory “would be the ultimate fairytale” for the 38-year-old.
Weir plans to bow out after the race but Brasher believes Sunday’s event might not be the last time the British public see the wheelchair athlete in action.
“Who knows? Steve Redgrave has the most famous quote: ‘If anyone sees me near a boat you have permission to shoot me’ — and he went and won another Olympic gold,” said Brasher.
“David has done remarkable things and he should be given time to decide what he wants to do and we’ll support him in the decision he makes.”
The starting gun will sound first for the wheelchair race, which gets under way bright and early at 9am. They will be followed out of the blocks by the Paralympic runners taking part in the IPC Athletics Marathon World Cup.
The Elite Women’s group will leave the gate at 9:20am and last but not least, the Elite Men’s group, along with the thousands of fun runners, will depart at 10am.
For more info visit the official London Marathon website: https://www.virginmoneylondonmarathon.com/en-gb/event-info/