Meet Andy Wilmot, the 72-year-old who’s run 712 marathons

Andy Wilmot, in action during last Sunday's Halstead Marathon. It was the 72-year-old veteran's 712

Andy Wilmot, in action during last Sunday's Halstead Marathon. It was the 72-year-old veteran's 712th marathon. Picture: Chris Shotton - Credit: Archant

Most runners tackling only their second-ever Parkrun tend to be novices, just getting a taste for what’s it’s like to run a distance of five kilometres in a mass field.

Andy Wilmot is a marathon machine!

Andy Wilmot is a marathon machine! - Credit: Archant

Andy Wilmot did just that, less than two weeks ago, at the Great Notley Parkrun within the confines of Great Notley Country Park, near Braintree. But then Wilmot is no ordinary runner!

Remarkably, this stalwart member of Halstead Road Runners, who turns 73 in July, was squeezing in a rare Parkrun outing between his 711th and 712th marathons. Yes, I do mean ‘711 and 712’, not ‘one and two,’ or even ‘71 and 72.’

You read it right, and there are no misprints. Wilmot truly is a marathon machine.

Three years ago, I wrote an article in this newspaper to coincide with Wilmot’s 600th marathon. Well, I can report that he is still going strong, and clearly averaging more than 30 marathons a year.

“I don’t know whether I’m still going strong, but I’m still going,” Wilmot told me this week, fresh from his 712th marathon appearance at his local Halstead Marathon.

“I’m not going too bad, although someone did tell me the other day that I wouldn’t make 800 marathons!

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“I don’t know what he meant by that, but I do intend to go on running marathons for as long as I can. I want to keep going.”

It really is an incredible achievement to cover the traditional 26.2-mile distance on so many occasions, and at a still very respectable time.

Wilmot clocked 4hrs 14mins 46secs at the Halstead Marathon on Sunday, finishing 213th overall from a field of nearly 400. Not surprisingly, he won his over-70 category.

Two weeks earlier, the Halstead-based super veteran completed his 26th London Marathon, between Greenwich and The Mall, in a typically consistent 4:20.35, which placed him 37th in his over-70 age group.

“It varies how long the gap is between me running marathons,” continues Wilmot, who was by now warming up to all my questioning.

“I don’t have another for three weeks, but then I still do about 30 in a year and I am planning to take part in the 10-marathons-in-10-days challenge at Barrow (near Bury St Edmunds) this summer.

“I don’t train too much between marathons, again depending on the gap between each. I’ll probably go for my first run, since last Sunday’s Halstead Marathon, on Friday of this week to make sure that all the aches and pains are gone.

“Of course you’ve got to have a bit of luck with injuries, and I usually have a sports massage every month to help me recover.

“I used to run a few Ultra events (longer than the marathon distance), but not anymore. I ran the famous London-to-Brighton race a couple of times, when it was staged on the roads. That was a distance of about 55 miles.

“The furthest I’ve covered was actually a walking event, the Centurions ultra racewalk at Newmarket (on the Rowley Mile Racecourse), when you had to complete 100 miles in 24 hours.

“I failed a few times at that event, but I did finally manage it in 23 hours and 33 minutes (back in 2003). You have the 24 hours to do it, so you might as well use up most of the allotted time!”

Wilmot plans to rattle up marathon No. 713 in Gravesend, when he tackles the Kent Circuit Marathon (formerly known as the Kent Roadrunner Marathon).

Navigational problems are not an issue with this event, which is staged over the official marathon distance by completing 20 laps (and a tiny bit extra) of a 1.29-mile tarmac cyclopark circuit.

His 700th marathon was also in Kent, at the wonderfully named A20 Path ’n’ Downs Marathon last November, which followed tarmac pathways along the A20 and also quiet country lanes on the Downs.

Needless-to-say, Wilmot celebrated by winning his super-veteran category in a time of 4:12.28.

Who knows where and when Wilmot will notch his 800th marathon, but it would take a brave man to bet against him reaching that target.

And the question remains – his 800th marathon and his third Parkrun. Which one will come first?

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