Help John reach his target of raising £2000 for Dementia Support. John's JustGiving Page: John Miles is fundraising for Dementia Support (justgiving.com)
John Miles, from East Ashling, near Chichester, has set himself the most demanding challenge of running 6 marathons, including Boston, London, Tokyo, Berlin, Chicago and New York. To many running enthusiasts these are better known as The Abbott World Marathon Majors, and not only is this physically and mentally challenging but getting a place in these events is no mean feat! You may think this is quite an impressive challenge for anyone to take on, but what makes this story so inspiring is that John is 72.
John achieved a time at the London Marathon in 2021 to gain entry to each of the 3 American World Marathon Major’s by meeting the qualifying times for his age group (70-74). The alternative of trying to gain entry through the ballot is very hit and miss as these big events are hugely oversubscribed. The Majors started as a way to bring together the most elite athletes in the world, and today attracts thousands of runners from across the globe.
John is a keen marathon runner and fundraiser, previously raising thousands of pounds for charity. Running all 6 marathons can take years to complete, but John is very determined, adding Boston in April 2022 to his London run. John completed 17 weeks of training for Chicago on 9th October 2022 and then had only 4 weeks to rest, recover and prepare for New York on 6th November 2022. Excitingly, John will be running the Tokyo marathon on 5th March 2022 and hopes to run Berlin this year.
Speaking with a close friend whose wife is living with dementia as well as seeing his step-daughter-in-law’s mother living with the disease, led John to choose local charity Dementia Support in Tangmere as the charity to raise funds for at Chicago and New York. Dementia Support delivers services to people affected by memory loss and dementia through its local dementia hub, Sage House, based in Tangmere, Chichester, West Sussex. There are an estimated 900,000 people living with dementia in the UK and there is no cure - making services like those at Sage House vital to helping people cope with the challenges dementia brings.
James Lovell, Head of Fundraising and Communications, said: “We are truly grateful John has chosen to run in aid of Dementia Support. We are inspired to be part of such an exciting challenge and we will all be cheering John on from back in the UK.”
Please help by supporting John, you can make a donation by visiting John’s JustGiving page and help him to raise his target of £5,000!
Follow John's story as he prepares for a marathon in aid of Dementia Support.
Updated (20th March):
Updated (5th March): Toyko Marathon: Race Day
Got up at 4am to get to breakfast at 5 as I thought a lot of runners would do the same. However it wasn’t too busy and I enjoyed a chat with another older runner from the UK. He spotted someone with a banana and lo and behold a supply of them had landed in the hotel so I was equipped with two to follow my usual nutrition scheme before a marathon, one for breakfast and one an hour before the start.
It was a short walk to the secure start area; to get in, runners had to scan a QR code with the special health app on their smartphones into which daily temperatures and the two Covid tests had been loaded. This went surprisingly easily.
The next inevitable feature of these events is the queues for the loos except that in Japan volunteers marshaled the queues and guided runners to the Japanese style portaloos as they became free. At this stage masks were required to be worn and only to be removed when racing.
It was quite cold but eventually runners were asked to assemble in their allotted corrals. I was in D of 10; A to J. With up to 38000 runners presumably there were about 3800 in each corral, a lot anyway. Corrals were gradually moved towards the start and at 9:10 a sound was made and the huge column of runners gradually set off. Some big events space the corrals out to avoid congestion but as far as I could see Tokyo managed without.
The course followed the broad streets of the city which could be described as a concrete jungle but has some fine buildings and is quite varied. Plants and trees are allowed to grow in suitable beds - provided they behave themselves! Litter is not allowed and runners were told to take it with them - well some hope of that but I don’t think it posed a problem since there was an army of volunteers to collect it. There were good crowds out along the route but not as noisy as western events.
To run a marathon efficiently you need to run at a constant pace throughout especially on a largely flat course like Tokyo. I’m pleased that I managed to achieve that quite well. However despite my careful attention to liquid intake or rather lack of it, I did need to stop a couple of times and not only were many toilets some distance off the course but there were too few loos and consequently one had to queue up to use them; you were required to don a mask during this procedure. I estimate I lost about 8 minutes this way and pushed my finishing time up to 4:01:05.
After the finish, medals were handed out followed by water and energy drink, a foil sheet for warmth, a poncho-style cape and various packets requiring knowledge of Japanese to identify. A tour bus was laid on to take runners back to hotels near the starting area.
I eventually got a table at a restaurant in my hotel and had food and drink (including a beer) in which I was in desperate need.
All in all a successful day with some niggles but also some achievements.
Just after finish with a pained expression!
A few minutes later with a smile.
Updated (3rd March): Tokyo Marathon Report
Well I just ran out of steam around 5:30pm yesterday so got in the bed and next thing I knew I woke after several hours sleep, it was still Wednesday 11:30pm! So I had a cup of tea, re-read the itinerary and found a couple of things I needed to pick up from the sports tour operators and the instructions for the 2 Covid tests I have to take on two consecutive days before Sunday. Set my alarm for 5:40am and eventually got back to sleep … until shortly before the alarm. Got up and went for a run at about 6am, round a ‘joggers’ route given when I checked in. Quite a few runners out, I felt pretty good but went wrong on the way back to the hotel - lucky I had the map with me and my phone.
I must say I rather like the heated toilet seats in this country but I’m not sure about the dual functions of loo and bidet; haven’t dared try the latter - too many controls and fear of the unknown!!
Breakfast is included in the package and there are two restaurants in the Keio Plaza. By the time I got there shortly after 7am the queues were building up but I didn’t have to wait long. It was buffet style and I had to do a tour first to see what was there. What was missing was porridge/oatmeal and not a banana in sight; I haven’t given up but I think this country doesn’t do either.
Having run round the local park this morning I am planning a walk in the park this pm - should be easy?! 🤣
Updated (2nd March): Arrival in Tokyo
Arrived in Tokyo after a 14-hour flight when masks had to been worn at all times except when eating or drinking; this seems to apply everywhere in Japan even outdoors. The flight was made more bearable by the excellent Japan Airlines cabin crew, the food was also very good. Getting through immigration and customs looked straightforward as all details were pre-entered on a smartphone app. However there were some glitches and I even had to fill in a customs form by hand! An army of mainly young staff sorted out any problems, they were both courteous and most spoke quite good English.
I traveled to my hotel by a ‘limousine bus’ which proved straightforward. It was too early to check in so I joined a group, led by the UK sports tour operator, going to the marathon ‘Expo’
to pick up my bib with race number (39036) and timing chip; here was another army this time of volunteers to check race entry and health, again using smartphone apps; this process was not without issues but I finally made it out with my bag of race essentials and other bits. I’ve now checked in to my hotel and I’m looking forward to some sleep having been awake for most of the last 30 hours.
What I’ve seen so of Tokyo is similar to any big modern city but tomorrow I hope to get out into the park near the hotel for at least a walk maybe a short run.
Updated (24th November): New York Run Report
Updated (8th November): New York Marathon update
Amazing John Miles completed the New York Marathon on Sunday!
John 72, from West Ashling who completed the Chicago Marathon on 9th October, ran the New York Marathon in aid of us on Sunday as well!
This is incredible, as there was only 4 weeks in between each race and John completed them both in great times!
We had a quick catch up with John who is now resting, he said, “Ouch that was brutal; so hot and humid but at least I didn’t become a medical case like some. Official time: 4:14:01”.
There will be a full update on John’s adventure once he’s recovered.
You can still donate to John’s page and help him reach his target. John Miles is fundraising for Dementia Support (justgiving.com)
Well done John, you truly are an inspiration, we can not thank you enough for choosing Dementia Support as your charity.
Updated (10th October): Chicago Marathon update
I survived yesterday’s race though despite the course being pretty flat I found it really tough going, possibly made worse by jet lag and unfamiliar food. Anyway I am quite pleased with my time of 3:51, 7th out of 113 in my age group.
The event was well organized, as it has to be to qualify as a ‘Marathon Major’, and supported by a huge number of volunteers; they were all very helpful and friendly. The crowds were vast, lining the route nearly all the way along the route and very enthusiastic.
I had to arrive at the start area at 6am - it was still dark and cold.
Just before 7 the sun rose over Lake Michigan quite a spectacle. It was about 7 degrees so I kept extra clothing on as long as possible but eventually had to hand in my bag and just kept an old fleece on - to be discarded just before the start.
There is a lot of camaraderie while waiting for your corral to be set off. Runners were there from all over the world as well the diverse ethic population of North America.
Despite having a plan for running at a particular pace my legs seem to take over and I ran too fast over the first half of the course which I paid for in the final miles; definitely not my best marathon run but not far off the target I had set myself.
The weather was perfect, quite cold for most of the race but sunny and by the finish about 16C so no dash for extra layers was required. I spent some time talking to other runners , sharing experiences and finding out where they were from, many from the UK.
All in all a good experience but I’m extremely stiff even after a good night’s rest!
Updated (7th October): John's on his way to Chicago
Had a busy day yesterday taking dog to kennels, doing last training run, packing and a few other urgent tasks before going away. Taxi arrived at 4:30 am and I am now at Heathrow waiting to check in for my flight to Chicago; it’s still dark!
To be continued…
Update (27th September): Two weeks to go!
Having completed the 3 long training runs, 20+ miles, I am now as they say ‘tapering’ to the first of my marathons. Today (Sunday 25th September) my schedule said ‘run 13 miles’ which is the distance of a half marathon so I decided to enter the Chichester Half to fulfil that distance telling myself I would take it at an easy pace; well that didn’t work, when I get with a crown of other runners I can’t help getting competitive and went a bit too fast. But it’s a lovely race following a course from West Street up to the Trundle, back down to West Dean and then on the Centurion Way back to Chichester. Going up the hill is a real struggle but once round the Iron age hill fort it is pretty much downhill all the way.
The final 2 weeks consist of mainly short runs with some ‘interval training’, i.e. repeated spells of fast pace interspersed with easy-paced recoveries. I have been through the training programme several times before and I record every run on an App called Strava. This means I can compare how am I doing with how I did previously. All very well except that as I age I find it harder to come anywhere near previous efforts and this can be a bit demoralising. However the App also estimates a fitness score so I can tell I am at a similar level of fitness, which is reassuring.
I am really looking forward to being in Chicago because although I have landed there before, it has been to change planes on the way to the West coast and I have never actually been outside the airport! Remarkably my Stepson and his wife are flying up from their home in New Jersey to cheer me on and we are staying an extra day to see some of Chicago in a relaxed manner. I have been checking on the weather forecast for Chicago for the last few weeks and I was somewhat alarmed that until about a week ago temperatures were still in the high 20’s; fortunately they seem to now be well below 20 degrees especially early in the morning - my start is at 8am, Central Time Zone (currently -6 hours from BST). So all looks good for the event but I am taking a lightweight waterproof jacket to run in just in case. I look forward to a day of relaxation and recovery before flying home.
John's training update (20th September 2022):
I am following a 17-week training schedule designed to prepare runners for a marathon. There are many such training schedules available online and they are designed to achieve fitness, speed and endurance, the latter being particularly important for the marathon distance - 26.2miles/42.2km. With just 4 weeks to go I have covered over 500 miles and am at the peak of the endurance training which, after building up longer and longer runs over several weeks, culminates in three runs of 20, 20, and 22 miles.
Running the marathon distance is a particular challenge because however fit you are most humans run out of their stored energy after about 18 miles and part of the training is to find some way of topping up that energy to complete the last 6 to 8 miles without slowing right down and most likely walking. The three longest runs give you a chance to try out ways to provide and stomach the necessary extra nutrition while still being able run.
Another supremely important factor is knowing what pace you can sustain over the distance; the long runs help you to set your pace and also, of course, they give you great confidence that you can cover the whole distance. If you get these factors right you will have a really enjoyable and rewarding event but it is not at all that easy!
For my long runs I choose an out and back route and in particular I run from home down to the Bosham roundabout, along the A259 to Fishbourne, then up the Centurion Way to the blocked off tunnel at West Dean (picture 1), and then I return along the same route. This amounts to about 19.5 miles so I add a little local excursion to make up the 0.5 or 2.5 miles required.
The extremely hot weather of recent weeks has, on the one hand been beneficial as running in hot conditions is supposed to improve the body’s blood flow and performance when competing in cooler temperatures, similar to training at altitude. On the other hand it is tough going and you can become dehydrated very rapidly; this necessitates carrying quantities of water or other fluid, which isn’t ideal. I have been juggling my running times to work around the worse of the heat and, for long runs especially, have been getting out before dawn.
After the last long run later this week I enter the so-called ’taper’ which gradually reduces the running over the last 3 weeks to allow the body to fully recover from the most intense training and hopefully be at its peak for the actual event.