Norfolk marathon man takes up challenge to from Birmingham to London


1128 - Credit: Archant

Ian Thomas is a man who likes a challenge - and that's just as well because they don't come much tougher than the one he is tackling later this month, the Grand Union Canal Race.

The Norfolk Gazelles athlete didn't take up running seriously until he was nearly 50 years of age and he is now 53.

But that didn't stop him from deciding to join the select band who will be attempting to run the 145 miles from Birmingham in London - without a break - starting at 6am on Saturday, May 25.

To say the run will test Ian's stamina is an understatement - but he has prepared well and is hoping to do his Norwich-based club proud by completing the course, even if a record time of just over a day is not necessarily on his agenda!

'I love a major challenge and the idea of challenging myself physically and mentally in such a challenging and prestigious ultra-marathon as the GUCR was irresistible to me,' explained Ian, from Hellesdon.

'Yes it sounds utterly crazy and it is but this is very much a personal challenge and I'm hoping it will also enable me to raise crucial funds for Cancer Research UK.'

The current race record is held by Pat Robbins who completed the gruelling course in 25 hours 37 minutes in May 2011 and has won the event on fourth successive occasions.

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Ian does't expect to be passing him on the banks of the Grand Union Canal: far from it. Indeed he knows that simply finishing the event would be a fantastic achievement.

'I'm in awe of those I'm lining up against and feel privileged to be able to participate in an event which is considered by many as the ultra that all others in the UK are judged by,' he added.

'A proportion of runners will run with their own support crews, whilst the remainder will run unsupported. In my case I've opted to run unsupported, but as with many ultras the proportion of runners who do not finish is very high, around 50 to 60 pc, so I'm under no illusions as to the task at hand.'

Ian started running in earnest at the age of 49 and since then has covered a good spread of distances, achieving two sub three hour marathons.

Due to time constraints the IT project manager was a member of an internet based running club before moving to Norwich from the Midlands, when he joined the Norfolk Gazelles.

'The club welcomed me with open arms, is very friendly and have been very supportive ever since,' he said,

'For anyone looking for a great running club regardless of their own current ability, I couldn't recommend Norfolk Gazelles highly enough.'

Anyone wishing to sponsor Ian should go to http//