Runner’s 40 years (and 119 days) of sub-three hour marathons sets world record

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A BRITISH road runner has set a world record that proves he’s every bit as fit at 58 as he was at 18.

Steve Smythe managed to complete a marathon under three hours for the first time in 1976 when he was 18.

Steve, after setting his world record in Seville.

He achieved the same feat most recently at the Seville marathon on Sunday when he reached the line in two hours, 56 minutes and 21 seconds.

The 40 years and 119 days between the two sub-three hour runs is now an official world record.

Incredibly, the journalist from Dulwich, London, ran the 26.2 miles with a hernia.

Steve at the London Marathon

Steve’s run beat the previous record holder, American Antonio Arreola, by 120 days.

A sub-three hour marathon is considered the gold standard for good club level runners, with around 2,000 Britons managing the feat every year.

Most of these runners are in their 20s and 30s, but Steve hopes to keep ducking under the mark until he is 60, to keep extending his record.

Steve, right, in a schoolboy cross country run in 1974, two years before achieving his first sub-three hour marathon

Steve said: “I thought I could do it but over the past few years I’ve had back luck with injuries. I was barely able to train leading up to London last year.

“Leading up to the Sevilla marathon this year, I lost a lot of weight – about a stone – which I had built up cycling.”

Steve, wearing 427, in 1978 marathon

Steve’s time was even more impressive given he was suffering from a hernia, and had postponed the operation till after the race.

He said: “I got a hernia about three months ago, they were supposeed to operate last week but they say not to exercise for about four weeks afterwards.

“I trained about 60 or 70 miles a week in the lead up, but when I was a lot younger I was doing about 100 a week.

“I think there are people going sub three hours at 70, but they have often started later in their lives, they haven’t got years of running in them.

“When I was 18, I probably shouldn’t have actually done the marathon. I think technically you had to be 20 to do it.

“I’ll be 60 for next year’s London so I’ve got that to aim for, then in 2020 I’ll probably try and go sub three hours, so I’ve done it in six different decades.”

Steve’s first marathon was in Harlow, Essex in 1976, when he ran 2:54:42.

His personal best for the marathon was set 36 years ago, when he ran 2:29:42 in the London Marathon.

 
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