Thursday, 24 October 2013
Records Broken in Chicago
John Harley has been a member at TSC and Tonbridge Athletics Club since 2011 and has completed several of the world’s most famous Marathons during that time including Athens, Berlin, Boston, London and most recently Chicago.
Sounds like the work of a lifelong runner? Not even close- John is in his early sixties and this is simply how he chose to spend his retirement!
By his own admission John had never been a runner. He did do a little training in his youth and even ran in the first Johannesburg Half marathon back in 1977, completing it in a respectable 1 Hour 50 minutes. At the time this was achievement enough and running took a back seat to career and family obligations thereafter.
He did return to training in 2003 but predominantly as a means of combating an inactive lifestyle as opposed to competing and it was not until shortly before his retirement in 2011 he was approached by his employers to lead a corporate team to the 2500th Athens Marathon that the sport took its hold once more. Before the race began he promised his team of colleagues that, should he run under the 4 hour mark, he would be content and would never take part in a marathon again.
The team raised a staggering 50,000 Euros for good causes and John finished in 4 hours…and 26 seconds!
From that moment John resolved to run the Top 5 Marathons the world has to offer and has not looked back since, training harder, losing weight and absorbing advice from all quarters in pursuit of faster times and injury-free preparation.
Having run the Bath Half Marathon in a Personal Best 1 hour 30 minutes and finishing 4th in his age group the 2012 London Marathon was up next and a time of 3 hours 20 Minutes!
This is when John started training with me here at TSC, with the intention of conquering a Marathon in 3 hours or less.
He came close in Boston (one of the toughest races in the world and not the place to set a PB) with a finish time of 3 hours 21minutes despite suffering from calf problems in the last few kilometres and has continued to progress well - exploring and improving all aspects of his preparation from race nutrition to running technique. John has since broken into the Top 10s in both Half Marathons and Marathons in the UK for his age group. He’s not far down the list in the 10km rankings either.
His most recent effort came in Chicago on 13th October – finishing the race in a brilliant 3 hours 4 minutes, placing him 1200th (from a field of 45,000!) and coming home as the 1st British athlete and 2nd in his age group overall. This was good enough to break both the 60+ and 50+ records for the distance at Tonbridge Athletics Club (again).
“I was 11 stone at the start of the Chicago Marathon. I have never felt or looked healthier. The whole experience has been a huge and unexpected bonus since my retirement from full time employment. “
John is far from finished and I look forward to reporting more from him in the coming months – and we both hope to see you on the track soon!