The oldest runner in this year’s London Marathon has told how he is preparing to complete the gruelling race for the twentieth time – aged 86.
Sprightly grandfather-of-one Paul Freedman, who took up running at the age of 61, has been training for Sunday's 26.2 mile course by running 10 miles three times a week.
Paul, who has completed over 170 half marathons, is so fit that he ran a previous London Marathon just one year after suffering a massive heart attack.
In 2008 the keen fundraiser was appointed MBE by the Queen for his services to the community after he raised a staggering #80,000 for different charities.
Retired retail buyer Paul, from Hornchurch, Essex, yesterday (Thurs) revealed he is proud of his age and will be giving tips to first time runners during the race.
He said: ''I took up running when I was 61 because I had been stuck in a desk job but I had always been an active person.
''It is the crowd that push you round the marathon course and I crack jokes as I am going round to keep people's spirits up.
''The organisers rang me up last week to tell me I was the oldest runner and I am very proud of my age. The second oldest runner is four years younger then me.
I give some of the other younger runners tips.
If you are watching the race on TV look out for the bald man running on his knees.
''I would rather be 46 than 86, but there is no reason I can't do the race at my age. My target this year is to finish the race in under 6 hours.''
Father-of-one Paul has run the London marathon 19 times and completed 170 half marathons after he took up running as a hobby 25 years ago.
He was inspired to start fundraising for the St Francis Hospice, Essex, after his wife Reene died of lung cancer in 2007.
So far he has raised nearly £80,000 from his fundraising events and was awarded an MBE by the Queen in 2008 in recognition of his charity work.
Marathon-mad Paul has dedicated an entire room in his home to all the medals and memorabilia from the races he has entered.
This Sunday will be the 20th time Paul has crossed the London Marathon finish line and he is determined to complete the race in under six hours.
Dedicated Paul added: ''I had a heart attack in 2003 and was in hospital for three weeks. I wasn't allowed to run the 2004 marathon after that which I wasn't happy about.
''The doctors told my son I would need a pace-maker but because I was so fit I didn't need one.
''I still go to the hospice where they cared for my wife Reene every Christmas and I put on shows for them to fundraise too.
''I will be wearing orange for the hospice and my bib will have 'officially the oldest runner' on it.
''When I won the MBE I told the Queen I ran the marathon every year and she said: 'you run right past my house'. I wanted to say 'yes, but you never wave at me.''
Nicola Okey, spokeswoman for the Virgin London Marathon, confirmed that Paul is the oldest entrant in this year's race.
She said: ''Paul is our oldest entrant this year and it's great to see him taking part for such a worthwhile cause.
''What he's doing should be an inspiration to all of us and proves that you are never too old to take part.
''Paul has done a lot of training and it's not his first marathon so he knows what to expect and I'm sure he'll cross the line for the 20th time.''
Paul hopes to raise £10,000 this year by running the London Marathon. To sponsor him visit www.justgiving.com/Paul-Freedman.
The oldest official London Marathon runner is Fauja Singh, from Essex, who completed the race in 6 hours, 7 minutes at the age of 93 in 2004.
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