At 70 years apart, Rebecca Manners and Iva Barr have been named the oldest and youngest participants to take part in this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon.
Rebecca, from Manningtree, near Colchester, will be celebrating her 18th birthday, running the marathon alongside her mum and dad, Jackie and Warren. The young runner, who is currently studying for her A-Levels at Colchester Sixth Form College, is running on behalf of VICTA, a charity that supports blind and partially sighted children, young people and their families.
“It’s not your usual 18th birthday celebration, that’s true,” said Rebecca. “I think some of my friends think I’m crazy but it’s something I’ve wanted to do ever since watching my mum and dad run the marathon. Then, when I saw this year’s event was on the day of my birthday, I thought I had to do it.
“My dad’s a bit too fast for us so he will be up the road, but my mum and I are planning to run together and we are both doing it for the same charity.”
And then there’s Iva, aged 88, who will be running her 20th London Marathon. A member of the Bedford Harriers running club, Iva has become a hometown hero in Bedford, and has a somewhat celebrity status among regular London Marathon spectators.
“I’m a lucky lady,” said Iva. “I just love doing the London Marathon. It’s like being at the centre of a big street party.
“Training has not been so good this year. I had a fall and hurt my shoulder and then got that injured shoulder bumped again by someone when I was on a run. But, one way or another, I will get round again!”
Iva’s marathon endeavours have even caught the attention of the Prime Minister.
“Prime Minister David Cameron gave me The Point of Light award after last year’s race which was just fantastic,” said Iva. “Then, on top of that, later in the year, I received a Christmas card from him too, which was lovely.”
The Point of Light is awarded to outstanding individuals who contribute to their community, inspiring others through voluntary work and fundraising. Iva will be running for disabled children’s charity, Whizz-Kidz, who she has ran for for the last three years.
“I love running for them”, says Iva. “I always make a point of stopping to talk to the children from the Whizz-Kidz charity, who are usually watching at mile 22. I’m so grateful for the support I have from everyone, from those at home when I’m out on training runs to the spectators on the day. There are always so many people wishing me well on the road-side.”
The youngest male runner taking part this year will be Jake Smerdon, who will be 18 years and 18 days old on race day, and the oldest male runner will be marathon veteran, John Starbrook, aged 88, who is running for Age UK.