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Eileen Noble is the oldest female runner reacts after finishing the Virgin Money London Marathon, 28 April 2019.

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01-10-2021
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World’s top marathon masters set to battle for global honours

“I didn’t start as an elite, I was just jogging. I didn’t ever think I would be an Olympic runner, but I guess competitiveness is in my nature so I wanted to do my best.”

Yuko Gordon

She may have to be at her best to win age group gold on Sunday, for she faces USA’s formidable Jeannie Rice, a three-time world record breaker for her age who is clearly relishing the prospect of international competition in her 124th marathon.

A fun race

“This is going to be a fun race,” said Rice, who moved to the United States from South Korea in 1968.

“I’ve got all the records, yes, but only because Yuko wasn’t running when I set them. Now she’s very strong so I expect it will be very close. I would be honoured to be second to her. She is an Olympian.

“I didn’t start running till I was 35 but I haven’t stopped since,” added Rice. “Now I’m 73, so I do have a lot of mileage in my legs.”

Like Noble, both Gordon and Rice have run the London Marathon before, although it was back in 1983 in Rice’s case – “It was very different then,” she said. But for Volker Rose and Jose Santiago, who go head-to-head in the men’s 50-54 age group, Sunday’s race will be their London debuts.

For Rose, in particular, it will be day to remember as he will also become a ‘Six-Star Finisher’, an honour bestowed in those completing all of the half dozen Abbott World Marathon Majors Rraces.

Something to celebrate

“I have three great reasons to be here,” he said. “It’s my first London Marathon, my first Abbott World Marathon Majors Wanda Age Group World Championships, and I’m going to be a Six-Star Finisher. So I am really looking forward to crossing the line with something to celebrate.”

A scientist by day, Rose took up running after watching the mass field of the Chicago Marathon from his home in the city’s suburbs, and then supporting his wife as she took on the 26.2-mile challenge herself.

“I was extremely impressed so I had to follow her,” he said. “I had a choice – to stay on the couch or get up and do it.

“By day I am a scientist, so I brought the commitment and fascination of that to the sport. I plan and execute my training, and I’m part of a team now that pushes me to be better. My second job now is marathon training.”