Suffolk’s Mac Speake takes on London Marathon for 34th time - making him part of select group of just 13
- Credit: Archant
Runners from Suffolk and Essex will once again be flocking to the Capital, this weekend, to take part in the 35th staging of the London Marthon.
Club athletes, charity runners and first timers will all be toeing the start-lines, at Blackheath and Greenwich Park, to take on the challenge of the famous 26.2-mile route through to the finish on the Mall, near Buckingham Palace.
Mac Speake, a member of Bildeston Bounders, is one of a select group of 13 runners who have completed all the previous 34 London Marathons.
Former local doctor Mac, who is now aged 73, has no intention of giving up this annual challenge, and once again he is determined to conquer the distance to chalk up No. 35 tomorrow.
Mac, from Kettlebaston, was in the field for the first-ever staging of the London Marathon, in 1981, when 7,741 runners entered and 6,255 finished – more than 35,000 should finish tomorrow’s race.
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He has not missed a year since, despite often overcoming injuries to make the starting line-up, boasting a quickest time of 2hrs 44mins from 1983.
The number of ever-presents has dwindled, over the year. In 2006, it was down to just 28 runners had had completed every London race, and now it is only 13 – it will be interesting to see what that number is after this weekend.
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His sons, Will, Doug and Peter, have all powered around the London Marathon course in past years, though none of them will be in action tomorrow.
Peter, aged 39, actually clocked a swift 2hrs 36mins 43secs at last weekend’s Manchester Marathon, running in the colours of Wimslow RC. He was 25th overall.
Suffolk and North Essex will have a number of their faster runners in action, although none will rival the achievements of previous local stars such as Lowestoft’s Paul Evans (third overall in 1996) and Ipswich JAFFA’s Helen Davies (nee Decker), who was a top 30 elite lady finisher in 2010, 2011 and 2012, including a personal best time of 2.34.11 in 2012.
Aaron Scott, a regular winner of the Woodbridge 10K, who now competes for Notts AC, should go well.
The talented 28-year-old former Woodbridge Shuffler, who was fifth at last year’s Manchester Marathon in a personal best of 2.22.27,is targetting a sub 2hrs 20mins in London.
Colchester Harriers have a couple of their big guns in action, in Marie Shirley and Allen Smalls.
Shirley has come agonisingly close to breaking three hours in her last two marathon outings. She clocked 3.02.31 at London last year, and then 3.00.22 in Berlin last September. She celebrated her 36th birthday yesterday.
Ultra distance specialist Smalls, meanwhile, is still going strong despite recently turned 47.
Smalls has a PB of 2.33.23 from London, 2010, when he finished in an impressive 82nd place. He is a former international ultar runner over the 100K distance.
Also from Essex, Harwich Runners’s Robert Reason has a PB of 2.34.32 from London last year, when he ducked into the top 100 male finishers in 98th spot.
Jim Last, of Framlingham Flyers, is also no stranger to running good sub-three hour marathons. The 38-year-old ran a PB of 2.55.34 at the Warsaw Marathon in Poland last year, having also broken three hours at Amsterdam in 2013.
For some, running a one-off marathon is just not enough.
That certainly applies to Shawn Leek, a member of Great Bentley Running Club. Leek has been tackling the challenge of running seven marathons, in seven days, in seven different counties, over the last week.
Leek plans to finish his mammoth week by running his seventh successive marathon at London tomorrow. He has been raising funds for the St Helena Hospice.
Marathon machine Phil Nutley, meanwhile, has been rattling off the 26.2-milers for the last four decades. The 67-year-old member of Saint Edmund Pacers will be running again tomorrow.
“I’m closing in on 600 marathons now, if you include all the ultras that I have done,” explained Nutley.
See our spectators guide to the London Marathon here If you are running, or watching a loved one, share photos and let us know the finishing time on Sunday so we can include you in our round up on Monday. Call 01473 324735 or send us an email