Finish line not in sight for Royston's record-breaking runner
PUBLISHED: 15:49 22 December 2016 | UPDATED: 15:49 22 December 2016
Royston athlete Geoff Russell began running marathons in the early 1970s and over 40 years on he's still setting new landmarks at all kinds of distances.
The 68-year-old shaved 18 minutes off the previous male over-65 British 50km track record during the LangsteNacht [Longest Night] 24-hour race in Amsterdam, Holland, at the weekend, clocking four hours 38 minutes for the feat among his 128km-haul.
That standalone record is phenomenal but Russell, who confesses to running 100 miles and training three times a week on conditioning at the Fighting Fit gym at Royston Heath, is also the current British 65-70 year-olds six-hour road race record-holder having broken his own milestone from last year at the Chorley six-hour event in October.
So what keeps him going?
Russell told the Crow: “I’ve done over 100 marathons of which 50 were completed in less than three hours so you get fed up with that. You’ve done it all so you think ‘what’s the next challenge?’
“You start doing the longer races and events like ultramarathons.
“Obviously you get slower as you get older so if I was just doing 10-mile races and half marathons you get depressed because you’re just getting slower.
“At least with what I’m doing now, by sticking with ultramarathons you’re always being set new challenges and beating records somewhere.”
Russell is giving himself Christmas off before his next British record attempt – an 24-hour indoor race in Helsinki, Finland, which begins at midday on Saturday, February 25.
He couldn’t pass it up as he’s guaranteed to get his name in the record books once more.
He continued: “I pick destinations that suit my motivation for records.
“There are no 24-hour British records for the 65-70 year-old age group so combined with wanting to run at the Olympic Stadium over there I thought it was perfect.
“It’s a continuous race but you can take as many breaks as you like during the 24 hours.
“I won’t be looking to sleep much as to set a good distance though.”
The retired teacher doesn’t see the finish line in sight for his running exploits either.
Russell said: “I’m looking forward to celebrating my 70th birthday so I can start on a new batch of records – the over-70 records.
“That’s a whole new game.
“It keeps you motivated. As long as the body is still willing.
“I haven’t had any major injuries over the years so I’ll keep going while I can.”
While records fuel Russell’s thirst to keep donning his trainers, he can lean on experience of training with a true running great to inspire him on those freezing cold days.
He continued: “Back in the 1980s I used to run with a guy called Don Ritchie [Scottish runner] who has so many world records over certain distances and by his own admission has run over 200,000 miles in races over the years.
“He was and always will be a motivator and inspiration to me.”