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Cheltenham Harriers’ Dave Tomlin set to make it a magnificent seven at London Marathon

All Areas > Sport > Running

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Wednesday, 28th March 2018, 08:00

Dave Tomlin

If Dave Tomlin’s mobile goes through to answer machine, you will get told that he’s “probably out running”.

And in all likelihood that is exactly what the 45-year-old will be doing. If the health care practitioner isn’t at work, it’s a fair bet that he’ll be out and about pounding the roads in and around Cheltenham.

And the Cheltenham Harrier has even more reason for making sure he is in tip-top shape at this current time, because it’s only a few short weeks until he takes part in this year’s London Marathon.

Not that he’s a novice when it comes to the iconic race, because when the tape goes up on Sunday 22nd April it will be the seventh time that he has taken part.

And familiarity certainly hasn’t lessened Tomlin’s love for the event.

“It’s the best in the world,” he enthused. “You get the chance to run in the same race as some of the greatest runners in the world. It’s an amazing event and the whole day is like a carnival.”

Tomlin, a Devonian who these days lives in Cheltenham, first ran the London in 1992.

“I ran it with my mum and dad,” he laughed. “It was my dad who got me into running so I said, ‘Let’s do it together’.”

That is just one of 34 marathons that Tomlin has taken part in over the years, and some of the other places he has completed the 26.2-mile challenge include Venice, Budapest, Croatia and Ljubljana in Slovenia.

“I’ve always liked pushing myself,” he said, “it’s what I’ve always done. I don’t enjoy the pain so much after a marathon but I love the endorphins when you finish a race.”

And Tomlin finishes those races in pretty good times too.

His best marathon time was at Taunton in 2013 when he finished in two hours, 39 minutes, 39 seconds, which was just 20 seconds faster than his time in the London Marathon the same year.

Five years on and he’s still very competitive – “I can still beat the youngsters,” he chuckled – but it’s not just beating the 20-somethings that is motivating him to train hard in the build-up to this year’s showpiece event.

“I want to finish inside two hours, 45,” he said. “That’s the qualifying time for the AA championship club runners at next year’s London Marathon.

“That means you run just behind the elite runners like Mo Farah.”

And Tomlin reckons that his target time is more than achievable. “On recent form I can run a sub 2.45,” he said.

Tomlin moved up to Cheltenham in June 2016 and it wasn’t long before he was spotted by the Harriers.

“I was doing a few of the parkruns and winning them, so Andy Prophett said, ‘You’d better come and run for the Harriers’. I suppose I was headhunted!”

Not that he’s got any regrets, of course, and he’s certainly been impressed by how good the Harriers are as a club.

“They are very strong,” he said. “Back at my club in Devon I was a top runner but I’m about 15th at the Harriers.

“Mind you I do remind them that I’m older than them!”

It’s clear that every step he takes is an enjoyable one for Tomlin whether he’s training or running.

“Running is my life,” he said. “It’s what makes me tick. And if everything has gone well, then I can go and have a beer.”

So what advice would Tomlin have for the runners from Gloucestershire – and there are quite a few – who are taking part in the London Marathon for the first time?

“The best thing to do is to stay mentally strong,” he said. “Keep taking the fluids and eat any food that you are used to. But most importantly just go out and enjoy it.”

Unlike many runners, Tomlin won’t have his name attached to his running vest when he runs round the capital.

Many of the spectators that line the race shout out a runner’s name to encourage them to keep on going but Tomlin says that’s not for him.

“I need to focus,” he said, “I don’t want to be looking around to see who is calling out for me.”

It’s that kind of focus that has made Tomlin such a competitive runner over the years and he says he’ll keep on running “until my knees give up”.

If and when that happens there are still other sports he can pursue of course.

One of those is cycling and he’s a big fan.

“I’m a member of Cheltenham & County Cycling Club,” he said. “I go out on Saturday mornings and cycle 60 or 70 miles. I love it.”

It goes without saying that that’s plenty of miles. And while running is still clearly his first love, in years to come his answer machine may say “probably out cycling!”

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