For many of us running the London Marathon is a dream we all aspire to achieve one day, well for this Devon local he’s achieved that for 39 years.
Retired head teacher, Mike Peace from Lustleigh, is part of a select bunch of runners in the group ‘Ever Present’. Members of the group all have one thing in common, they’ve ran the London Marathon since it started in 1981.
When speaking about the club Mike, 70, said: “It’s perhaps the only club you can only leave, you can’t join.
“Once it gets past a significant number like 20 or something, we all want to keep it going.”
Numbers have seen a significant increase since the first Marathon. On March 29th 1981 there was over 20,000 who applied with 6,747 people being accepted to run, however only 6,255 crossed the finish line.
Last year 42,549 people finished and 457,861 have applied to run this year.
Ever Present was originally made up of 46 people with only 10 runners remaining. It was set up in 1996 as a way of recognising those who had ran in every race and giving them guaranteed entry.
Another member of the group Charles “Len” Cousens said: “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.
“You had to put your application in the post first. We used to queue out all night long to be the first one to put your application in.”
The youngest member of the group is Chris Finill, 61, with the oldest being Ken Jones, 86.
We spoke to Mike Peace asking him a couple of questions about his marathon life.
What’s your most memorable moment?
“I’d have to say the first race in 81. I’ve always praised myself as a long distance runner and to complete it comfortably was the moment I’d say was genuinely most memorable, it was a fantastic experience.”
When did you get into racing?
“Around about 5 or 6 I would tend to run everywhere when I wasn’t climbing something or causing havoc! It was seen as a punishment to run for more than 80 yards back then, but I enjoyed keeping going, it was great fun.
“I did cross country at secondary school and then sort of stopped running and got into other sports like football. I was 31 when I completed my first marathon. I run other events throughout the year too.”
Do you have any intentions of stopping anytime soon?
“Not really, as long as I enjoy it, I’m going to keep doing it.”
What advice would you give anyone planning on running a marathon?
“Just prepare yourself! Make sure that you’re ready physically and psychologically.
“Don’t wear anything new, make sure everything is well worn in, shoes are most important as they do get battered.”
“It is a challenge you know you don’t want to start off too slow as you’ll regret it later on, it’s a real balancing act.”
How did you feel when you first crossed the finish line in 81?
“That feeling of elation, I cant deny that I have shed a few tears sometimes for various different reasons.”
“It’s an emotional experience as it’s a physical and psychological challenge, it’s just sheer achievement when you cross.”
“I overtook Blue Peter host Peter Duncan in 81 at the last 100 meters and I’ve heard he’s doing it again this year, I might overtake him again!”
The London Marathon is on Sunday 26th April 2020