Marathon man Len is in elite band
Dan HaynesA BARBER from Beccles will be tackling the London Marathon for the 30th time next month, making him one of only 21 people in the world to attempt every single one.Dan Haynes
A BARBER from Beccles will be tackling the London Marathon for the 30th time next month, making him one of only 21 people in the world to attempt every single one.
Len Cousens is a member of the 'ever-presents' at the London Marathon, an elite group of runners who share the incredible accolade of having finished every single race.
Len, who is 68 in May, believes this could be his last one. 'It's a big milestone for me,' he said. 'If I get round this one I've achieved what I intended to after my 25th.
'I'm not getting any younger, which doesn't make it any easier. After that, if I'm too battered up, I might call it a day. Although someone said it would be nice to do the year the 2012 Olympics are on. But we'll see.'
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Len, who lives in Lowestoft, owns Len's Loft barbers in The Walk.
He has run approximately 44 marathons in his time, including events in New York, Paris, Switzerland and Barbados. Although the London event is his most frequented, he said his favourite was the Berlin Marathon, which included stretches that followed the wall while it was still up in 1987.
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Len started running relatively late in his life at the age of 36. Bizarrely, his astonishing career started because he wanted to make use of a tracksuit his wife had bought him for Christmas. 'I said I reckoned I'd look good in a tracksuit, and she said 'if you want a tracksuit you'd better do a bit of jogging!'' he explained.
He tackled his first marathon in the same year, the Masters and Maidens Marathon in Guildford, and said that this first experience gave him the drive to do more.
'There were three of us running, this fit younger fellow and his friend who was a PE teacher, and I caught them up and beat them,' said Len. 'The fact that I, a relatively old guy, could beat them gave me an incentive.'
He completed his first London Marathon two years later. 'There were only a few people in it because it was an oddity at the time,' he said. 'There can't have been more than 6,000. Initially I went for the hat trick, then the double hat trick, then the treble hat trick!'
Len said he was mostly focused on finishing the event this year rather than being competitive, although past events have seen him gain an impressive time of under three hours.
For the 13th year he is running in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital on April 25.