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Running the six marathon majors in sub-three

Steve Jones

Steve Jones (handicap 7.2), at 53 years of age, has run all six marathon majors in under three hours:

2010 - London - 2:49:59

2010 - New York City Marathon - 2:57:13

2012 - Berlin - 2:53:55

2013 - Boston - 2:56:42

2014 - Chicago - 2:56:10

2016 - Tokyo - 2:55:46

There are only three people, in Great Britain, to have done all six in under three hours and Steve is the oldest, at 53 years of age. So, what is his motivation and what is his story?

In his late teens and early twenties, Steve dabbled in marathon running and participated in the Manchester, Stockport and Bolton Marathons, clocking times between 3:20 and 4 hours. He then took, what he describes as a twenty-year sabbatical before his serious running began. "A new job, working in an office and noticing that my weight was creeping up prompted me to put my running shoes on again and I got a place at London in 2004, running for ChildLine. My aim was 3:30 and I managed 3:29 even though I was training on my own, with no structure. My training really only consisted of steady running around the same loop near to my house."

Steve's sub 3:30 inspired him to join his local club, Stockport Harriers, where he was introduced to interval running, track running and the incorporation of long runs in his training programme. After several other marathons in London, Snowdon, Windermere and Abingdon, Steve joined the sub-3 group in 2006 with 2:59:19 in London.

In 2010, Steve ran the London Marathon in the spring and then followed it, in the autumn, with yet another sub-3 in New York. "I had gone to New York with one of my training partners, [Andy Fowler (handicap 7.3)]. After the race, we came up with the idea of doing the five world marathon majors. At that time, Tokyo wasn't part of it. I decided that my goal should be to do them all sub-three. Unfortunately, I was injured in 2011 and so my next 'tick in the box' was Berlin in 2012. It was 2012 when Tokyo was added to the World Marathon Majors and so it was also added to my list."

Steve continued his sub-3 assault in Boston (2013) and Chicago (2014). He was then entered and ready to go in Tokyo, in 2015, when his wife became ill and so he withdrew from the race just two weeks before he was due to complete this extraordinary feat. "At the time, I would have been the first to do all six in sub-3 and an interview had been arranged with Japanese Television but there were more pressing things on my mind at the time and more important things that I needed to do. I went to do it this year and, because my times were faster than Andrew Turner, who had the record, I thought I could still get a record for the fastest set of six but Mark Newton ran Tokyo this year and outshone me! Still though, I am currently the oldest person to have done all six in under three hours and that feels good for an ordinary person like me. I suppose others will eventually come along to take that record too but I'm fine with that and would be happy to help others to do it. When that happens, maybe I'll be the only person called 'Steve' to have done it!"

Steve's ability to churn out sub-3 marathons, one after the other, has been noted and tapped into by several of his club-mates who have pulled him in to pace-make for them in marathons and half marathons and he has seen many of them under the three-hour barrier. Steve will be at Berlin again this year helping some of his training group to crack this mark. 

Steve's low-down on the six Marathon Majors:

Boston

We were treated like heroes by Bostonians because it's the only one where you need a qualifiying time so they think you're like Olympians!. We were treated like royalty when we told any locals that we were there to do the marathon. Its a fantastic route - a straight run from A to B with hot-spots of support along the way including Wesley College where the students are out in force and a diner where the Hell's Angels were revving their bikes in support.

We ran Boston in 2013 when the bomb went off. We missed it by 45 minutes. We were in a bar watching the rest of  the race and saw it on the television. We were numb. It was surreal.

Chicago

Chicago is a compact and beautiful city. It's a good route. A bit twisty but flat.

Berlin

The flattest course

New York

This was the hilliest and toughest. None of them are as tough as New York. The first mile is uphill and I clocked 7:30 for that and then 5:20 for the second!

Tokyo

I have never been to a place like it. It's the cleanest and friendliest city that I have ever experienced. The language barrier was tricky but the people were super-friendly. The course is twisty and turny and there is a motorway bridge that feels tough near the end. The finish routine was interesting. First of all we had to sit down and have our legs sprayed, then we walked along with a goody-bag opened up and the items were put into it.

London

I've done London ten times and it's the best because many of my friends do it too. The others were lonelier although it was great to have Andy Fowler with me for all of them. The cameraderie is great at London. I love meeting up afterwards for a drink and a debrief!