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Meet the two Suffolk men, 77 and 78, who have run every London Marathon

PUBLISHED: 18:53 04 February 2020 | UPDATED: 11:13 05 February 2020

London Marathon Ever Present runner Mac Speake, 78, with his collection of race medals, at his home in Kettlebaston near Ipswich. PA Photo. Picture date: Friday October 11, 2019. See PA story SPORT Marathon EverPresents. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

London Marathon Ever Present runner Mac Speake, 78, with his collection of race medals, at his home in Kettlebaston near Ipswich. PA Photo. Picture date: Friday October 11, 2019. See PA story SPORT Marathon EverPresents. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Two men from Suffolk are part of a select group of 10 runners who have completed every London Marathon - and are preparing to run their 40th this year.

EADT NEWS WEST - DANI

Dr Mac Speake from Kettlebaston near Lavenham who has run in every London Marathon and is fundraising for a Cancer Prostate Charity Iniative organised by Marks and Spencer.

Photograph Tudor Morgan-Owen 11/03/07
EADT 15 03 07
EADT 16.4.09EADT NEWS WEST - DANI Dr Mac Speake from Kettlebaston near Lavenham who has run in every London Marathon and is fundraising for a Cancer Prostate Charity Iniative organised by Marks and Spencer. Photograph Tudor Morgan-Owen 11/03/07 EADT 15 03 07 EADT 16.4.09

The 'Ever Presents' have participated in every single London Marathon since the race was launched in 1981.

The group came together in 1996 for the 16th race, and since then the number of runners keeping the streak alive has dwindled from the original 46 members of the group, down to just 10.

Among their ranks are former Ipswich GP Malcom "Mac" Speake, 78, and part-time barber Charles "Len" Cousens, 77.

Mr Speake, from Kettlebaston, is also president of the Bildeston Bounders running club.

Len Cousens from Lowestoft is geating ready to run the London Marathon. He will be taking part in his 36th London Marathon.

PHOTO: Nick ButcherLen Cousens from Lowestoft is geating ready to run the London Marathon. He will be taking part in his 36th London Marathon. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

"It's like a compulsion," said Mr Speake.

"It's the same as someone who collects stamps, you keep going until you have the complete set.

"If I'm still here I'll be running the 50th race as well. I'll keep running it until I can't anymore."

More than 20,000 people applied to run in the first London Marathon on March 29, 1981, and 6,255 crossed the finish line out of 6,747 who were accepted for a place.

Len Cousens from Lowestoft is set to run his 37th consecutive London Marathon.

PHOTO: Nick ButcherLen Cousens from Lowestoft is set to run his 37th consecutive London Marathon. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

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"It's quite a bit of kudos, you know, people say 'that's the fella that's run every London Marathon' - It's nice, it's an ego trip," he added.

A record 42,549 people finished last year, while 457,861 people applied for a place in the marathon's open ballot this year.

Mr Cousens, from Lowestoft, added: "I think I've kept going so long thanks to my genes, it's what you're born with.

Mac SpeakeMac Speake

"If you ask my wife though, she'll tell you it's all the good food she's fed me.

"In the early days, you had to queue up at the Post Office and you wanted to be first in the queue so you got there when it was still dark and camped out on the pavement.

"After we had done the 15th, they said as long as you finish, you get in automatically."

Mr Cousens is running in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital in 2020, with Mr Speake doing it in aid of the British Heart Foundation.

Len Cousens from Lowestoft is set to run his 37th consecutive London Marathon.

PHOTO: Nick ButcherLen Cousens from Lowestoft is set to run his 37th consecutive London Marathon. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

"I wouldn't be surprised if this was my last one," he added.

"If you do 41, so what? Forty is a good round number."

The other remaining Ever Presents are Jeffrey Aston, 72, from Cardiff, Roger Low, 76, from London, Bill O'Connor, 74, from London, David Walker, 74, from Chesham, Buckinghamshire, Ken Jones, 86, from Strabane, Northern Ireland, Chris Finill, 61, from Cranleigh, Surrey, Mike Peace, 70, from Lustleigh, Devon, and Terry Macey, 71, from London.

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