London Marathon – for all ages and abilities
The 39th Virgin Money London Marathon continues to span the ages as athletes aged 18–85 are set to run 26 miles 385 yards from Blackheath Common to The Mall on Sunday 28 April.
Ken Jones (85) is not only the oldest entrant, he is also one of the 11 remaining 'Ever Presents' who have completed every London race since the inaugural event in 1981. When asked if he had any doubts about continuing his streak, Ken said: “Nope, never any doubt. I’m in much better shape than last year. I’ve been swimming three times a week instead of doing as much running and that has helped. Besides I’ve got my eyes focused on next year, the 40th birthday of the London Marathon. That’s a big one for me and for all the Ever Presents as it will be our 40th straight marathon.”
Ken has a best of 2:55 from the 1985 race but last year his time was a more sedate 7:50. His top tips for longevity in marathon running are gentle training and compression socks! He will be dressed in his favourite calf muscle protectors on his flight from Belfast to compete.
The oldest female is Eileen Noble (84) from Bexleyheath, who hopes to improve on her 6:47 from last year, when she was also the oldest woman in the hottest London Marathon to date. Eileen said: “Last year was very hard going. It got to the point where I just wanted to make sure I got to the finish. My big ambition is to complete this year’s race and then next year’s too because that would be my 20th London Marathon – so I’m already thinking one step ahead.”
The youngest competitor is Joshua Hill (18) from Chatham, who will be running just four days after becoming eligible, while the youngest female is Katie Ridley, from Harrogate, who will be 18 years and 34 days on the day. Katie obviously feels ready for the challenge: “I have always wanted to do the London Marathon, it’s been on my bucket list from when I was very young”!
So we know who are the oldest and youngest but it remains to be seen who will be the fastest. World record holder Eliud Kipchoge (2:01:39) and New York Marathon champion Mary Keitany (2:17:01) are the front runners on paper but top class fields have again been assembled for arguably the world's greatest marathon. The leading Brits to watch for are Sir Mo Farah (2:05:11) and Sonia Samuels (2:28:04) and the whole race will be screened live on BBC.
Image courtesy Virgin Money London Marathon press