STEVE EDWARDS has completed his insane, inspiring and rather incredible odyssey.
Thirty one years ago, an 18-year-old Edwards ran in the Coventry Marathon – his first. He said 'never again'.
On Sunday at Caldecotte Lake in Milton Keynes – two weeks ahead of his 50th birthday – he ran in his 577th.
More importantly, it was a 500th inside his target time of 3hr 30min, a feat no one else on the planet has come close to achieving.
Happily, he was surrounded by family and friends – as well as some 150 supporters, many of whom were running colleagues from Bourton Roadrunners, the 100 Marathon Club and the Brathay 10-in-10 Club.
And still they found the Moreton-in-Marsh athlete hard to beat as he raced home in third place overall in 3hr 14min.
The Fox@40 Marathon race director David Bayley had the nous to mark the occasion, dubbing Edwards the ‘The Godfather’ of marathon running. Every runner’s vest on the day bore that legend.
Then they all jogged over to the Caldecotte Arms to celebrate Steve’s remarkable feat – with some appropriate cake.
The Godfather is also a grandfather. His son Jason and daughter-in-law were on hand as were Steve’s three grandchildren, finding out for the first time just what granddad gets up to most weekends.
A far more regular spectator was Steve’s wife Teresa, without whose love and support this great sporting quest would never have got past the start line.
It has taken Steve to 31 countries around the world, 60 counties in the UK and a total of more than 15,000 miles in races alone at the equivalent of one race every 15 days for the last 24 years.
Yes, one marathon every 15 days for the last 24 years. Steve Edwards, endurance runner extraordinaire, we salute you.
“No marathon is easy, but some are less intensive than others and that was the case this time,” said Steve.
“I felt my eyes welling up with the emotion of it all in the final mile and I sank to my knees when I crossed the line.
“It has been incredibly hard work, but I have a tried and tested schedule and the key to the longevity is good nutrition and good all round fitness.
“Running is a great sport and a great way of life. I still get a lot out of it – I still get the buzz.
“I owe a lot of people. Colleagues at my three running clubs – my extra family I call them. Then there is Team Mannatech Real Nutrition and Sub Sports Performance Clothing.
“And, of course, my wife Teresa. We are very much a team and I am very lucky to have met her.”
Remarkably, Steve’s only serious injury in those 31 years was a stress fracture which stopped him competing for six months. And he has finished every one of the 577 marathons he has started.
“I have developed a very strong mental discipline,” he said. “It is why I have been able to be so consistent with my times.”
Steve allowed himself the luxury of a day off on Monday, but cycled to work – he’s an IT manager at Campden BRI in Chipping Campden – and went for a customary lunchtime training run on Tuesday.
After all, he has a marathon to run in Luton next week and then some soul searching about what might be his next challenge.
“I know age is going to catch up with me,” he said, “but for the moment running is my lifestyle.”