Friday, April 29, 2016
Guest article...The Ever-Present Dozen
It was once described as the club you cannot join, you can only leave. It’s an apt depiction of the small band of ‘Ever-Presents’ that have run all 36 London Marathons, and they now number just 12. Yes, an even dozen.
As the marathon founded by Chris Brasher and John Disley back in 1981 reached its one millionth finisher this year and from the 6,255 who completed that original race, it’s hard to believe just 12 have been there each and every single year since.
All are men with one now aged over 80; six are aged over 70 and four are 65 or older. The youngest, at 57, is Chris Finill and he is the most remarkable of all.
On Sunday last he finished the 26.2 miles in a time of 2:56:05 and this made it the 35th occasion he has gone under the magical three-hour barrier on the streets of London. Two years ago, he slipped outside that time (3:10:14) but came back in 2015 to record 2:52:59 and had almost four minutes to spare again on this occasion.
But that’s only part of what this man, who has been a member of Harrow Athletics Club since 1974, has achieved. He is one of a handful of people who has run sub-3:00 hours in five decades, from the 1970s to the 2010s. His fastest in London was 2:28:27 in 1985 and he has also excelled as an ultra-distance runner, representing England and Great Britain 14 times at 100km and 24 hour events.
Along with Steve Pope, in 2011 he ran across America from California to New York, covering the 3,100 miles in 79 days and 22 hours.
You could say Chris Finill was destined for historic feats, considering the place of his birth. “I was born in the same road, Whitmore Avenue, Harrow, where Sir Roger Bannister spent his early years before going on to sub-four minute mile glory in 1954,” he relates.
"I had a sense that where I lived was connected with sport, even at the age of four. In a way, my mother got me to start running because I used to run to the shops and buy cigarettes for her."
He says the only regret he harbours is if he had trained harder when younger, he might have run faster than 2:28. “Instead, I've made a virtue of being a very average runner and of my consistency.
“I think I'm capable of running under three hours for a long time. My first priority [in a marathon] is always to finish, and then to break three hours.”
Addendum : There is also a website dedicated to the London Ever-Presents... http://www.everpresent.org.uk/