Every year thousands of incredible runners take to the streets for the Virgin Money London Marathon. Meet this year’s youngest and oldest runners, Bronte Randle-Bissell and Kenneth Jones.
At 83 years and 339 days, Kenneth will be this year’s oldest runner and is one of just 12 people who has run every single London Marathon since the first one in 1981.
Ken was working in London and a member of the famous Orion Harriers Running Club when he lined up for the first London Marathon aged 47. Now living in Strabane in Northern Ireland, he still travels back to London each April to take part in his favourite race.
“I have a great time,” he said. “I look forward to it every year. I come back to see old friends. My old clubmates pick me up from the airport and look after me. It’s fabulous.”
Ken, whose best London Marathon time was 2 hours 55 minutes in 1985, also loves meeting up with his fellow 11 Ever Presents.
“We see each other every year at the start and it is fantastic,” he said. “The number of us has gone down though from when we first started and it’s sad when you see other members not able to start or drop out or even dying.”
Ken is still going strong, however, even if training and recovery is something of a problem as the years tick by.
“When you get old, you find it is the recovery that is the problem,” he said. “You get home from a run and it takes you four days to feel better again. After last year’s London Marathon, I had to take two months off!
“I live in a beautiful part of Northern Ireland but it can be difficult to go out and train at this time of year. It’s cold and it rains a lot so I tend to do a lot more swimming. It’s the only way I can keep my legs in shape.”
At the other end of the scale, is Bronte who will line up on Sunday April 23rd aged just 18 and three days. She’s running for the Make-A-Wish Foundation in memory of her best friend Leanne Goodlad who died two years ago aged 16 from cancer.
“It was incredibly sad when Leanne died and I knew that I wanted to do something for her,” Bronte said. She had accompanied Leanne on a Make-a-Wish trip to Florida before she died so chose that as the charity she wanted to raise money for.
Bronte’s family and Leanne’s mum will be coming to London to watch her tackle the race and she says that she has been overwhelmed by the support she has received. “The amount of support I have received has warmed my heart. I know how important it is to Leanne’s mum and she is coming down to watch. My family will be there, too,” she says. “My mum has done it before and she has warned me it will be a real rollercoaster of emotions, so that’s what I’m expecting.”