‘Ever Present’ Mac Speake set for his 38th successive London Marathon
- Credit: Archant
The temperatures are set to be brutally hot in the Capital tomorrow, for the time of the year, which will add to the challenge posed by the 38th staging of the Virgin Monday London Marathon.
Runners from all over East Anglia will be toeing the start-lines at Blackheath and Greenwich, ready to embrace the annual 26.2-mile test around the streets of London, past Cutty Sark, over Tower Bridge, around the Isle of Dogs and on to The Mall.
Mac Speake has seen it all before – he has had to cope with all sorts of weather conditions, plus various injury niggles, over the years – but nothing has ever prevented the 76-year-old Suffolk runner from starting, and finishing, the London Marathon!
Bildeston Bounders’ stalwart Speake will be one of only 11 ‘Ever-Presents’ among a bumper field in London tomorrow, a select group of runners who have successfully completed all 37 previous London Marathons.
The Kettlebaston-based former doctor was in the field for the inaugural London Marathon, in 1981, when 7,741 runners entered and 6,255 finished.
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Speake has not missed a year since, despite often having to overcome injuries to make the starting line-up. This year’s build-up has been no different.
“I fell over and broke my shoulder last September,” explained Speake.
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“I’ve had two screws fitted, but there was a bit of a delay while it was being diagnosed, so it’s been playing up.
“I started running again in January, but then hurt my back, and then the snow came to stop me from getting out!
“So it’s been a bit of a traumatic last few months, but I’ve been concentrating on both running and walking in training, and that’s what I plan to do at London.
“I reckon I will do about six-and-a-half hours,” added Speake, who has a personal best time of 2hrs 44mins from London, 1983.
The number of ‘Ever-Presents’ has dwindled over the years. By 2006 the total was down to just 28 runners who had completed every London race, and by 2015 that figure had been halved to 13.
It will be interesting to see what that figure is down to, by the end of this weekend.
Mac’s oldest son, William Speake, will also be in action. He has a personal best of 2:26:48 from 16 years ago, but has scaled down his training in recent years, especially since being injured when knocked off his bike.
Meanwhile, club runners from the likes of Ipswich JAFFA, Felixstowe Road Runners and Ipswich Harriers will be converging on the Capital.
JAFFA will have a group of about 20 runners in action, many of them very experienced athletes, no doubt all taking inspiration from club-mate Helen Davies, who successfully defended her Brighton Marathon ladies’ title last weekend.
The quartet of Will Law (2:36:58) Craig Fiddaman (2:41:41), Steve Parry (2:42:46) and Warren Birch (2:49:21) have all ducked under 2hrs 50mins in past races, and all will be gunning for quick times again this weekend.
Felixstowe Road Runners will have 16 club runners toeing the start-line, including a duo who have run under three hours in the past – Dave Solomon and Roger Stone – and several first timers.
Leading the way for Woodbridge Shufflers should be Matt Hunt, who will be tackling his fifth London and looking to get close to his impressive PB of 2:38:30 from the Valencia Marathon in 2014.
Hunt began running in 2012 after racing Motocross for 23 years, and Edinburgh was his first marathon, in May of 2012, when he ran 2:52. After two years of hamstring and Achilles problems, he is hoping for a quick time this weekend.
His Shufflers club-mate, Ian Coxall, 45, will boost his total to 24 marathons, having targeted the previous weekend’s Brighton Marathon. He has a PB of 2:57:00 from Chicago last year.
Coxall is looking forward to running the Boston Marathon in 2019, which will be his fifth major in my quest to complete all the six World Major Marathons.
Coxall also has an ambitious target of completing 50 marathons by the time he reaches the age of 20, ending with the Tokyo Marathon, the sixth World Major.
Among the party from Saint Edmund Pacers will be three members of the Gooderham family.
Dad Ian Gooderham, together with daughters Emily and Jessie, are running in aid of East Anglian Air Ambulance.
“My brother, Andrew, was knocked off his motorbike last year and was air-lifted to Norwich Hospital, so this is a way of thanking them,” explained Ian Gooderham.