On the run - but Les loves every minute

PUBLISHED: 15:09 11 October 2007 | UPDATED: 15:17 12 May 2010

Royston Runner Les Bolton, still going strong at 79, with his Great North Run medal – Pic: Daniel Wilson

Royston Runner Les Bolton, still going strong at 79, with his Great North Run medal - Pic: Daniel Wilson

WAS last week s Great North Run the final race for Royston Runners oldest member? Seventy-nine-year-old Les Bolton has told family and friends that his 20th Great North Run was his swansong - but that remains to be seen. I ve been running all my life,

WAS last week's Great North Run the final race for Royston Runners' oldest member?

Seventy-nine-year-old Les Bolton has told family and friends that his 20th Great North Run was his swansong - but that remains to be seen.

"I've been running all my life," said Les.

"It's going to be extremely difficult to stop.

"I've always enjoyed running ever since I was a young boy. I think growing up in Lambeth helped - I spent most of my days running from the all the gangs.

"That used to get my little legs going!"

Les, who turns 80 next month, used to run two-and-a-half miles to school every day after he was evacuated from his London home during the war.

He said: "I had to live on a farm that was miles away from my new school.

"The only way I could ever get there on time was by running."

And after the war ended, Les was conscripted into the paras and sent to Palestine. But the running didn't stop.

He joked: "The only difference was now I was running with a gun in my arms!

"In the end I started running for my regiment and did quite well. It was a lot of fun."

Continuing to run when he came home, Les was soon blown away by the marathon craze that swept the 1980s.

And from then until now he has completed 20 full marathons, including seven London Marathons and one New York Marathon.

He even competed in the famous Tough Guy competition held in Wolverhampton.

During that time Les, who lives at Stanstead Abbotts, has raised more than £15,000 for charities, which include funds for Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, and Middlesex Hospital.

From his last outing alone, he raised more than £500 for the Isobel Hospice in Welwyn Garden City.

He said: "It was a tough race that has become more of a challenge since I've got older.

"But it was worthwhile because the Isobel Hospice is very deserving."

It took grandfather-of-two Les two hours 57 minutes to complete the Great North Run.

His record is one hour 35 minutes.

He said: "It was another fantastic experience.

"The atmosphere was amazing, with more than 50,000 people taking part.

"I always enjoy this one - although it was a bit disheartening being overtaken by a big yellow banana and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves!

"It's at times like that when you start to realise your age!"

Les, who has been a member of Royston Runners for the past 14 years said that he was in two minds as to whether he should hang up his running shoes.

But with one eye on the Bath half-marathon in March, Les added: "I've told people that it was my last race, but just like any enjoyable experience it's going to be ­difficult to give up.

"I feel really happy when I'm running, so I could never say never!

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