One of the oldest London Marathon entrants has vowed to keep running as long as his legs will carry him.
Ken Jones, 85, has never missed the annual event since it began in 1981. He has notched up around 110 marathons during a life-long passion for the sport which began in the austere years after the Second World War.
Jones is the senior member of the Ever Present Club of veterans and is vowing to complete this month’s competition. This time he is planning to run the first five or six miles and walk the rest, expecting to be on his feet for around seven hours.
He said: “There is only 10 of us left in the whole of England who have run every London Marathon and of course I am the oldest guy, all the others are younger than me by five or 10 years.
“It is such a great day, it is an incredible day, 40,000 last year and there will be probably more this year.”
Jones, living in Strabane in Co Tyrone, ran his first marathon in 1967. Now he trains on the narrow country roads near Strabane, a short distance from the Irish border – and everybody on his regular routes knows him.
The retired great-grandfather has gone from running five-minute miles to 15 minutes a mile but has remained injury-free for decades, attributed to healthy living and keeping his weight under control.
He joined a north London running club after his national service in the Army in the 1950s and has not stopped since.
Jones’s good times in the initial London Marathons ensured his entry in subsequent events.
His membership of the Ever Present Club is the most select of groups. Some members of his London running team are older. “They usually die in their late nineties, 98, 99, 100. I hope to go on that long because it keeps you healthy,” Jones said
Discussing what it’s like to run a marathon, he added: “There are so many spectators and when you are feeling a bit low … the last three miles you start to suffer a lot and all the crowds cheer you on.
“By the time you get to Parliament Square you are only a mile out, by the time you reach 25 miles you are feeling pretty rough.”
He said part of the secret was to avoid cigarettes and alcohol. His hero is Paula Radcliffe.
Jones said he was looking forward to the crowds and members of his club who would be there to cheer him on in London.