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Marathons keep getting faster for local runner

He may be nearly 63 years old but age did not stop Ernest Gracia from smashing a personal record as he completed his fifth marathon with a time of three hours and 50 minutes.

Earlier this month, Mr Gracia landed in Manchester ready to take on the second biggest marathon in the UK, running a total of 42.2km.

Crossing the finish line he managed to shave off 2.30 minutes from his previous personal best, which he achieved in Barcelona last year.

Modest but pleased about his achievement, Mr Gracia firmly believes that anyone can run a marathon if they plan and train correctly.

Age, he said, may affect the length of time it takes to run the distance, but with focus and determination combined with the right training a marathon is achievable for most.

Mr Gracia’s marathon times keep on improving. In Seville in 2015, his time was 4:05:11. In London the next year it was 3:58:05 and in Sterling in 2017, it was 3:55:32.

His trick for attaining these results seems to be “running without a stopwatch and just enjoying it.”

While he might not run to a stopwatch, Mr Gracia said seconds either way can make a difference to how you run.

“Just one second below your previous best can have you sinking into a low but a mere second under your previous best and you’re ecstatic,” he said.

When preparing for a race Mr Gracia strictly follows a set training programme four months ahead of the event.

Ernest Gracia marathon (4)

This training dictates which marathon he can run as he is reluctant to train during the long hot summer months and towards the end of the year he is busy with his other passion, judging bird shows.

His training programme has him running three times a week with two sessions at the gym.

“These two gym days are recovery, you may be rowing or you may be cycling and sweating but it is recovery,” he said. This type of training is non-impact on your body but still helps with cardio and general fitness.

The runs consist of one long run, one the concentrates on speed and the other at an average distance.

“The long runs in the 16 weeks training are between 21 and 32km. Sunday mornings when I go out it is demanding,” he said.

“Within the 16 weeks there are five 32kms so I know I can do 32km. My thinking on the marathon is when I get to 32km I know I can do 32km I have only got 10km to do.”

“That is positive thinking. But, then when I am training here [in Gibraltar] and do that 32km it is negative thinking because I think ‘fine I have done the 32 km and I’m knackered and now I have to do another 10km’.”

“But, when you are in the marathon itself, when you do the 32 you think I have just got 10 more to do,” he added.

While Mr Gracia might inspire others, and he has people who have told him so, he too is inspired by people. Namely, a 85-year-old man who will run his 39th London marathon next weekend. However, this man is not focused on this year’s race, but his 40th next year.

Mr Gracia does not know where and when his next marathon will be, his family are trying to get him to sign up for one of the big ones in the US such as the New York or Boston.

As these can be hard to get a place in, he is unsure he will have the opportunity to take part.

However, despite saying he does not think he could achieve it, if he runs a marathon in 3.45 hours he will be eligible to enter any marathon in the world and avoid all lotteries.