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Gloucester Athletic Club runner Mike Mansfield preparing for his seventh London Marathon

Gloucester > Sport > Running

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Tuesday, 26th March 2019, 09:00

Mike Mansfield Mike Mansfield

Mike Mansfield will complete a magnificent seven when he takes part in this year’s London Marathon.

And to have run six times already in one of the great races really is some achievement when you consider that he describes his first London Marathon as “a bit of a disaster”.

Disaster is a strong word, of course, even in a sporting context but Mansfield is a serious runner and finishing in three hours, 15 minutes in 2007 was a big disappointment for him even though it was the first time he had ever run over 26.2 miles.

The recently turned 47-year-old Gloucester Athletic Club member said: “I didn’t appreciate how hard it would be.

“I went off at a crazy pace, I wanted to run two hours, 45 but it was one of the hottest marathons on record and I died a death at 20 miles.

“I went off at my actual target pace – and felt good! – but it was too fast for the unexpectedly hot conditions. My naivety was in not seeing the signs and slowing down accordingly. Heat exhaustion hit hard at 20 miles.

“I should have slowed down before then but I didn’t and I ended up walking the last four or five miles.”

Although very disappointed, he certainly wasn’t put off, quite the contrary in fact.

“I was hooked,” he said. “I ran the first one because I felt I ought to, people always say, ‘Have you done the London Marathon?

“But once I’d done one, it was such an amazing event, I wanted to do more.”

He was back the following year and clocked 2.49.32 – his personal best - and has finished in sub-three hours in four of his London Marathons.

“My goal is always to run under three hours,” he said. “In 2014 I ran three hours, 17 seconds, that was a bit annoying!”

He’s run a couple of other marathons too – one in Jersey and one in Essex, which is where he is from originally.

“The Jersey Marathon was probably my best ever marathon,” he said. “I came fourth in two hours, 53.”

What made it just that little bit more special was that he didn’t know for sure that there was place in the race for him until three weeks before the event.

“I turned up with no expectation,” he said. “The Jersey Marathon is quite a tough one, it’s shaped a bit like a cheese wedge. The first half was all steep climb but on the way down I was just overtaking all these people who had died a death.

“The annoying thing was that third place got you £500 and you got nothing for finishing fourth!”

His other marathon experience – the Halstead and Essex Marathon – was not so good, an event he took on just three weeks after his first London Marathon.

It was too soon and he admitted it was a “disaster” as he finished in three hours, 45.

“I was desperate to do well because it’s where I’m from,” he said, “but I walked the last half of the race. It was almost a DNF, but I just had to finish.

“I suffered a tibia tendon injury and physically had to walk – it was weird as I had no pain walking but couldn't run at any speed.”

Finishing that race showed plenty of determination, of course, and combined with his obvious talent as a runner, it has stood him in very good stead over the years.

He freely admits that the 26.2-mile distance is not his favourite.

Give him a choice and he’d go for 10K every time although since taking up the sport – he started running when he was a schoolboy – he has competed over most distances.

“I started off in track and field,” he said. “I started as an 800-metre runner, then I was doing 1,500m and 3K at Loughborough University.

“Then I started road running, I wish I’d started road running earlier.”

He joined Gloucester AC when he and his wife Lisa moved to this area in 2011. Lisa is also a keen runner and is a member of Newent Runners, with whom he also trains.

And while he’s obviously looking forward to this year’s London Marathon on Sunday 28th April it’s fair to say that it is not the be-all and end-all for him this year.

“I’ll be gutted if I don’t run three hours,” he said, despite admitting he’s got a “dodgy foot”.

“But I’ve vowed not to push it. I don’t want to be suffering three weeks later and unable to run any 10Ks.”

He’s good at that distance – his PB is 32.18 set in 1995 – and he’s targeting the Speedway 10K at Chepstow in June.

“I'd say that despite my PB being 24 years ago, I feel like 35 minutes is still an achievable goal nowadays,” he said.

That’s pretty quick in anyone’s book and to be fair he’s very good at anything from 5K to marathon.

He and his wife are also big supporters of the parkruns and although Lisa hasn’t been running for anything like as long as him, he is a big supporter of her running.

“She’s done up to half marathons,” he said with obvious pride. “I keep egging her on to do a marathon.

“She entered the ballot for this year’s London Marathon and didn’t get in, I think she was secretly disappointed.”

And that’s hardly surprising because as her husband says: “It’s so exciting, it’s an incredible event.”

Other Images

Mike Mansfield as a 12-year-old competing in Southend

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