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40 races will be enough, says Ken, 85, as he prepares for 39th London marathon

Ken Jones holds a 2012 Olympic torch at his home in Strabane, Co. Londonderry, before taking part in the London Marathon which he has never missed since it began in 1981. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday April 18, 2019. See PA story SPORT Marathon Jones. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

By Beverley Rouse, Press Association

An 85-year-old man who has run every London Marathon since the event was launched in 1981 has said next year will be his last.

Ken Jones, who lives in Strabane, Northern Ireland, is one of the 11 remaining Ever Presents preparing for the 39th London Marathon where he will be the oldest runner.

"I want to do it next year. I have got to make it next year, get the 40. That's long enough," he told the Press Association.

"This as the 39th year that I have done it. In the old days I used to run very fast. I used to get under three hours.

"Now it will be seven hours. I got slower and slower and slower and now I just walk."

Mr Jones, who has a personal best of two hours 55 minutes, said the second half of a marathon is "mind over matter".

He said: "You get to the point at 18 miles when you still have eight to go and you are feeling a bit tired.

"You have to say to yourself, get your mind to say 'I'm going to finish this, I'm going to get the medal'.

"You have got plenty to occupy your mind. You look around and enjoy what's going on."

Mr Jones, who will be 86 on May 19, walks around the country lanes near his home four times a week and swims three times a week which he said has helped him to avoid injury.

He has been doing four-hour walks every Saturday for around six weeks to prepare for Sunday's Virgin Money London Marathon.

He said: "My motivation for running is to keep fit and happy. To feel good, that's it.

"I'm not overweight, I'm in good condition. The object is to keep healthy.

"I have got illnesses like everyone else. They come knocking at the door but they can't get in.

"I get things mildly wrong but nothing serious but I'm healthy, I fend off all this stuff."

Mr Jones started running with the Army during his National Service between 1951 and 1954.

"After I left the Army I joined a running club. They started to advise me what to do and put me in races. I started to enjoy it."

Mr Jones worked as a dockyard labourer in Chatham, Kent, before joining the Metropolitan Police where he became a traffic officer.

He lived in Chingford until 14 years ago and remains a member of Orion Harriers running club.

He has been married to wife Nora, 83, for 59 years and the couple have a daughter, Heather, who is 57, four grandchildren, two great grandchildren.

Mr Jones will be accompanied by his daughter - who has run the London Marathon once before - during Sunday's event.

"She is what they call my guide. She looks after me," he said.

"When she was a girl of five she used to run with me. She's been running all her life.

"She knows it does her good, keeps her healthy."

He will meet the other Ever Presents for a pre-race photo and a chat before the marathon and usually joins other Orion Harriers for a celebration afterwards.

Pic by Niall Carson/PA Wire

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