April 18, 2011

UK: 86-year-old Paul Freedman completes 26-mile Marathon challenge in under seven hours

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BILLERICAY, Essex / The Enquirer / News / April 18, 2011

ESSEX boasts the London Marathon’s oldest runner this year after 86-year-old Paul Freedman completed the 26-mile challenge in less than seven hours on Sunday.

The Hornchurch-based runner has picked up an almost cult following in recent weeks after making countless TV appearances in the lead up to the race, and said even when running the marathon he couldn’t escape the limelight.

“People kept poking me on the back and asking me how old I am - I should have 10 minutes taken off my time,” joked Paul as he took a well-deserved break after the race.

“The day was thoroughly enjoyable because I got to the finish. The crowd kept me going – one or two even gave me a push which helped! I’m pleased with my time and I’m definitely planning on doing it again next year – I can’t let the hospice down!”

Paul finished his 20th London Marathon in 6 hours and 47 minutes, with his new found fame helping raise over £3,500 for St Francis Hospice.

His run was dedicated to his late wife Reene who was cared for at St Francis Hospice up until her death from lung cancer in 2007.

Many of the runners took part in this year’s marathon in memory of loved ones who have been cared for by the Havering-atte-Bower based hospice, which cares for people living with a life-limiting illness across the community.

Among them was Kevin Childs, 37, from Hornchurch, who finished the course in 4 hours 23 minutes. He was running to raise money for his mother-in-law, who sadly died in the hospice last year. Kevin, who is new to running, last year completed a half marathon for the hospice and has already raised over £5,500. This year he will take on more half marathons, as well as the Dublin Marathon.

“It was such an emotional day – the hype and support of the crowd, along with knowing I was doing it for Sue and for the hospice, after months of training made it very emotional,” said the 37-year-old.

“The crowds were superb from half to finish, there were pubs blaring out music – it’s outstanding the number of people that line the route. I can’t wait for the Dublin Marathon now!

"I love raising money for the hospice; it is close to the hearts of the whole family. Without a shadow of a doubt their help has made a huge difference - they didn't just help the direct family - the husband, daughter, and sons - it came down to our children, the grandchildren. We had a problem with our youngest son, they’ve lent us books and been a great help. Nothing was a problem for the hospice – and it still isn’t. The hospice is there for a very valid reason, and it's my pleasure to support them."

Kevin has already raised over £5,000 for his twin London and Dublin Marathon runs. To help add to his tally visit www.justgiving.com/Kev-Childs.

Hospice fundraiser Lauren Josman said: “We were thrilled that so many runners signed up to the marathon to raise money for the hospice. It’s such a big physical challenge to take on, and the total that they’ve fundraised is amazing. I hope they all really enjoyed the day.

“We were standing at mile 23 dressed in bright orange and cheering loudly as they passed. We depend on community support to help us raise the £7.2 million needed this year alone to provide our specialist care and support to people living with a life limiting illness, so we’d like to thank them all for their effort and support.”

Source: The Enquirer