Jim Parker is set to run his 38th Isle of Wight marathon, at the sprightly age of 71, on October 9.
Jim, who lives in Lingfield with his wife, only began running the Isle of Wight’s annual race in his 30s, but has since returned every year to the Isle of Wight to complete the marathon.
He said: “I don’t know why I keep going back! I think this year could be my last one though. I’m 71 after all. The training is becoming more and more effort.”
Though it’ll be his 38th attempt on the Isle of Wight, Jim says he’s lost count of how many marathons he’s done over the years in total.
He said: “I only count the Isle of Wight ones. It must be in the order of 100 in all. Plus several Ultra Marathons - any race longer than 26.2 miles. I’ve run the London to Brighton race 12 times, which is about 53 to 55 miles. And I’ve also run three 100km- 62 mile- races.
“But I keep picking the Isle of Wight marathon because unlike the London one, there’s no hullabaloo around it. I can just get on with it.
“I like that it’s one of the oldest runs in the country, starting way before the London marathon. There’s only usually 200-250 runners.
“The organisers know me there now and say ‘back again?’ when they see me.
“But there’s actually another runner, Malcolm, who’s almost run as many marathons as me. So that has kept me coming back, I can’t have him doing more!”
Jim will be raising money for the Leonard Cheshire Disability care home Heatherley in Copthorne, where he has volunteered as a driver for the last ten years. His wife also volunteers there.
Even though Jim has run the marathon so many times, he still finds it challenging.
“The Isle of Wight is by no means flat, it’s quite hilly and running there is very strenuous.
Though Jim has previously started the Isle of Wight marathon 37 times, he has only finished 35 times. He is hoping to make it 36 this year.
He said: “Only twice have I failed to finish, one time I was running with an injury and the other time my leg let me down half way through. I thought to myself: I could hop a mile or so, but not 20!”
Last year Jim ran the marathon in 4 hours and 44 minutes, but back in his late 30s he ran it in just under three hours once.
When asked what his wife makes of his marathon obsession, Jim said: “she’s given up on me.
“Just joking, she has done the odd marathon too and she’s still very into fitness and keeping active.”
Last year Jim raised £1,700 for Heatherley, which went towards their ‘operation refurb’ to develop the existing physiotherapy and activities departments.
This year his money will be going towards the garden project to improve the garden areas outside the residents’ bedrooms.
If you would like to donate, please visit: www.justgiving.com/James-Parker-the-happy-eater