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90-year-old TCS London Marathoner sets British masters record

The oldest runner at this year's race was inspired by his sister's cancer fight

David Picksley Photo by: Photo: David Picksley/Facebook

The desire to help those battling the same disease that claimed his sister fuelled David Picksley of Croydon, Surrey, to claim the British 90+ men’s marathon record at this year’s TCS London Marathon. Picksley, the oldest of the more than 48,000 runners at this year’s event, finished the race with a time of 7:16:46.

He becomes the first to record a master’s marathon record in the British male 90+ category. Previously, the oldest British male marathoner on record was Alf Gibson, who at age 85 ran the 1993 London Marathon in 5:48:09. In 2002, Jenny Wood-Allen set the standing record in the British 90+ women’s category, running the London Marathon in 11:34:00.

In Canada, the record in the oldest men’s masters group is held by the late Ed Whitlock, who topped the men’s 85+ category with a 3:56:38 marathon finish in Toronto in 2016.

Picksley entered this year’s marathon as a fundraiser for JustGiving, a U.K. charity aimed at eradicating bowel cancer, and has raised more than $12,000 for the organization through this year’s marathon.

“When my sister April was diagnosed in 1973 with bowel cancer, this was generally seen as a death sentence,” Picksley shares in a statement on his fundraising page. “She died just a few months later at 42, with three young children. Now, almost 50 years on, of those in the UK diagnosed at the earliest stage, 97% will survive five years after their diagnosis. Currently, only just under 40% of cases are diagnosed at an early stage. The focus of the policy and the influencing work of Bowel Cancer UK over the next three years is to improve early diagnosis. I am walking the London Marathon in 2023 to recognise the improvements made in the last 50 years, and to support their campaign, to save more lives by spreading knowledge of the symptoms.”

The TCS London Marathon course is familiar territory for Picksley, who has a long history going the 42.2-km distance.

“In my 50s and 60s I ran 13 marathons, including 4 in London, and since those days I have been enjoying a walk with my stick, early every morning,” says Picksley. “Latterly that had become a lockdown habit, and when a Virtual London Marathon was introduced, I took it on. After a finish in under 7.5 hours in 2021, I did it again in 2022, in 7:13:15, just 3.5 minutes over the ‘good-for-age’ over-85 age category.”

In a video tweeted by TCS London Marathon organizers, Picksley says “it feels wonderful, it really does,” to have finished the event at age 90.

Asked if he “might have a small glass of something to celebrate,” Picksley replies: “Yeah, I should think I will. I might even make it a big one.”

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