This year, someone will become the millionth finisher in the London Marathon.
It’s a special milestone for an event that only began in 1981. But the achievement’s nothing compared to the select group of runners that have finished every single London Marathon since its inception.
In 1995 there were 42. Now there are just 12 – and it just so happens that one works for Radio Times. Meet three of the ‘Ever Presents’.
The 12 remaining Ever Present marathon runners now. Chris Finill (circled left), David Walker (middle) and Radio Times’s Steve Wehrle (right) will all be returning this year.
68, Radio Times Paper Manager
My first London marathon
The 1981 London marathon was the first I’d ever run. 6,700 people took part; I came 4,332nd. I’d done a few training runs, but nothing more than 16 miles, so it was all a bit of an unknown on the day.
In the first few years, the Isle of Dogs was pretty desolate. You reached Tower Bridge, and for eight miles after there was nothing and nobody there! It was pretty horrible.
Now these days, anywhere on the course from the start to the finish is just packed. It’s madness; the noise can be unbelievable. If anything, personally I think it’s a little too crowded now. There’s much more fancy dress too. I’ve been passed by Teletubbies, people in mankinis, all sorts of strange things. I had a giant chocolate biscuit come past me last year.
My finest marathon moment
I ran 3:51:26 in the first race, and it took me ten years to get under three hours. 1991 was the year everything went perfectly; my time was 2:59:59. That was also the year Sebastian Coe ran. He finished a minute in front of me. If only I’d known how close he was!
Why this will be my last
This year will be my 36th London Marathon but my 50th marathon in total. I’m 68 now, and I thought 50 was a good number to go out on.
Also, back on 1st January this year, I hit 50,000 miles since I’d started running; that’s more than twice round the world. I’ve always added up my miles every year – one of those anorak things – and this year I planned it so I would break the barrier on New Year’s Day.
When we hit the 50,000 mark, we were just in the countryside out the back of Orpington, a lovely viewpoint. My wife knows now that when I go, I want a bench there with my name on it.
Steve is running for charity Bromley Mind
70, part time training consultant
My first London marathon
I was 35 when I ran my first London Marathon. The main recollection I have of the first one is running with Peter Duncan the Blue Peter presenter. We were both aiming for about three hours and ran together for quite a way. He was getting a lot of support, so I fed off the back of that and ended a few minutes in front of him.
My favourite marathon moment
My personal best in 1987 was probably my best one. I was absolutely flying and got round in 2:45:47. I also ran with all three of my children in 2005. My wife had started training in secret with the intention of us all running together, but her knees didn’t let her. Instead, later that summer she did the ‘Moonwalk Marathon’, where they start at midnight in Hyde Park. That night I was able to support her as opposed to the other way around.
What’s it like being an Ever Present
When we were first recognised after the 15th marathon, there were 42 of us. In the early years when we saw others drop out we thought it was great: we were part of a smaller, elite club. But now it doesn’t feel like that, and I shall be really sad if Steve doesn’t run again.
I was training well this year until about ten days ago. I think it’s some kind of virus, and after 30 years I’m having to resort to using an inhaler again. But there’s no question of me stopping running.
David is running for Tommy’s Charity
57, school bursar at the Duke of Kent School
My first London Marathon
London wasn’t my first marathon. I’d run in the United States when I was a student, and was 22 when I ran in London.
I was born in the road that Roger Bannister lived in when he was training for the four-minute mile. I didn’t know him, but that rubbed off on me very early.
I somehow tapped into that competitive sporting sense. My mother had a bad smoking habit, so I used to run up to the shops to buy cigarettes and time myself! That’s where the whole thing kicked off.
My favourite marathon moment
I think last year was my favourite marathon, because I got under three hours again. I had run 33 consecutive London marathons all under three hours – a Guinness World Record. Unfortunately in 2014 I went over: knowing that record had gone was very difficult, because I was very demotivated and physically in a bad way. It was great to get back under again last year.
What it’s like being an Ever Present
It must be a little like going back to the Cenotaph each year, suddenly finding out so-and-so isn’t there. People ask me if I’ll be the last person to run all the London Marathons but I don’t want to get drawn into that. Everybody wants everybody else to stay an Ever Present for as long as possible. All we’ll do is keep going for as long as we can, or, as in Steve’s case, be more dignified about it and leave on our own terms rather than when nature dictates. Maybe it’s a smarter exit than we realise.
And the other nine…
Follow the London Marathon live from 8.30am on BBC1