The London Marathon’s oldest “ever-present” competitor is injury-free and feeling great as he laces up his running shoes for the 40th time.
Ken Jones, 87, will run around his home town of Strabane, Co Tyrone, next month with a special app tracking his progress due to the pandemic which forced the cancellation of the physical event.
He does back stretches every day in the run-up to an event he first competed in back in 1981.
He said: “I feel very well, my daughter has me on a nice diet, I am not overeating and I am feeling great.”
He aims to complete the marathon with his daughter Heather, who is also a keen runner.
He expressed confidence that his 40th participants’ medal would be arriving in the post after next month’s event and expects to complete the 26.2 miles in a faster time than last year.
His personal best was 2 hours 55 minutes, but times have crept up with the mounting years, and now he mainly walks.
One of his secrets is not to run fast down hills, which helps protect the knees.
Another is bending exercises to stretch his lower back and keep him free from injuries.
During training he has been zig-zagging through the relatively flat streets of Strabane, 10 miles most Sundays with a couple of 20-mile stretches more recently.
This is the first virtual run in Virgin Money London Marathon history in a year when it was not possible to hold the event in its traditional format due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It is a complete sell-out and on Sunday October 4 participants from all round the globe, and across the UK, will be running the marathon in their own unique way.
Mr Jones said: “I am training every day except for when it is terribly unpleasant.
“It is just about getting enjoyment out of training.”
Mr Jones started running with the Army during his National Service between 1951 and 1954.
He worked as a dockyard labourer in Chatham, Kent, before joining the Metropolitan Police where he became a traffic officer.
He lived in Chingford, London, until 14 years ago, and remains a member of Orion Harriers running club.