BILLERICAY Striders’ David Butler is hoping a new marathon personal best at the sprightly age of 61 will lead him to a gold medal and, possibly, a national record in London on Sunday.
Butler admits that marathons are “not really his bag” but he is going into his fourth London Marathon in excellent shape and that has encouraged him to have one eye on writing his name into the record books.
Heading into this weekend, Butler’s marathon best is 2h 50m 46s which he set in London two years ago – the last time he raced a marathon.
His training has gone well enough to suggest he is in shape to smash that PB and, on inspection of the record books last week, he thought he even had a shot at the national over-60s best of 2h 46m 26s.
However, that record was lowered in Manchester last Sunday where Ian Bloomfield ran 2h 44m 27s – and suddenly that target became a lot tougher.
“I would love to beat 2h 50m and to be the first in my age group,” said Butler. “I am running well and expect to run somewhere between 2h 45m and 2h 50m and thought the national record was a possibility, until last weekend. Whether I can get close to 2h 44m is another matter though!”
Butler has done his homework and is aware no one in the over-60 age group in last year’s London Marathon ran under three hours, so he knows he has a great chance of winning a gold medal in that category and doesn’t want to risk chasing a national record only to blow up late on.
“I don’t want to scramble my mind by thinking I want to run 2h 44m,” he said. “The aim is to be on 6m 20s/6m 25s pace and try for as even a split as possible at half-way, around 1h 23m.”
Butler, who has excelled on the track, cross-country and roads, only runs a marathon every two years.
“Some people love marathons,” he said. “But they are not really my bag. But running in London is an experience.”
But despite his age going up, his times are going down.
“I feel like I’m a lot better prepared this year,” he said. “Training has gone very well. Two years ago when I run my personal best I was not really doing the mileage. This year there’s been more mileage and more effort.
“I feel like I can run a lot more even paced than I have done before. I did the Essex 20 a few weeks ago (2h 18m 19s) and felt strong at the end so I feel like I’m in good shape, but you never know until the day itself.
“You can get to half way and it feels easy and then it starts to get harder. A lot depends on those last six miles. So many people come a cropper after the 20th mile. You just have to dig in.”