London Marathon

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Dale Lyons, Centurion Road Runners ex-Sphinx AC (Coventry)

NEW YORK CITY BLUES  - A NOVEL BY DALE ROBINSON                          

Dale’s first novel is a heart-warming tale of adventure, family drama and a quest for success. A young English couple seek a better life in New York from smog bound London.    Aided   in a chance encounter with a famous film star they become involved in   the Beatles invasion and the Kennedy assassination aftermath.  The 1964 New York World’s Fair and the Brooklyn riots become additional  issues in their problems of adjustment,  Endeavouring to become surrogate New Yorkers they embrace the burgeoning modern jazz social scene, encountering danger and excitement in New York’s tourist hot-spots .but time is against them.  A family crisis looms to derail their plans and threaten an embarrassing return to the UK. .  The 290 pages include plenty of action which takes you back to New York  of the early 1960’s in the City That Never Sleeps. 

It can be ordered direct at a discount for £7.99 from  at 5 Richmond Hill Gardens, Birmingham B15 3RW.  It is also available at all popular booksellers including Amazon price £9.99 postage free on Prime. 2-07-21


It had to end sometime and this time was as good as any due to a new hip-op scheduled for 20th May, an aching ankle (replaced 2014) and a failing 2nd knee (2010 & 2018) . My body had cried ‘halt – enough is enough’ Dale! To be honest I should have heeded good advice from the family to pack it in in 2017 having completed 100 marathons. But failing to take it, I suffered the consequences of a near disastrous 38th London when I almost failed to finish and staggered across the line in a PW (personal worst) time of 7.40! Unfortunately that’s entirely due to the skewed mentality of the EPs (Ever-presents), just ask them!

It’s all over now and honestly I’m quite relieved for a number of reasons, mainly to do with the marathon organisation and the fact I don’t have to pound the streets for hundreds of miles training in the worst months of the year. I’ll now have much more time to devote to other pursuits like music, writing, golf, walking (Park Runs) and travel.

1. Much more walking in the Excel centre to get to LM registration due to change of DLR stations.
2. Massive Green Start queues.
3. Computerisation of registration docs. meant more delays and ‘Help’ desk visits.
4. No Goody Bag after registration.
5. Introduction of Wave system meant delays after the official start in freezing winds of over an hour – normally it takes 5 minutes to the Green start line.
6. No mailed marathon booklet enclosing registration docs. Now all on e-mails!
7. Occasional excruciating pain and hitting ‘the wall’ – usually after 18 miles.

These minor inconveniences aside it’s a thoroughly enjoyable experience!

On the day the usual nutcases were in evidence vying for Guinness Book entries for the most unlikely ‘World Records’. Man wearing ski boots ( fastest marathon in ski boots); A Chinese man running in barefeet! (fastest marathon shoeless); Man wearing ice hockey gear (fastest marathon wearing ice hockey goal-keeper outfit); Man inside a DBS motor car (yes you’ve guessed this one); Man wearing Big Ben (tallest entry to run a marathon) remember he was the one who couldn’t get over the finish line! Obviously they’re not all locked up yet!

1. The anticipatory buzz and adrenaline at the start with the EPs and en route, crowds, support and bands.
2. The intense feelings of achievement at the finish and getting the medal.
3. Meeting friends & supporters at the Charity receptions.
4. The post marathon meals with friends and family.
5. Writing my annual post-marathon reports (this IS the last!)
Four EPs (Ever-presents) escorted me off the marathon course after 100 yards to become a DNF (did not finish) #59,527, for the very first time in 102 marathons.

All the remaining 10 EPs finish inside the regulation cut-off time – and all bar one improving their times from last year. The youngest finished first, Chris Finill 59 in 2:59:46 and the oldest Ken Jones finished last in 7:40:50.

Photos and filming (a short documentary of the EPs is in production) and ‘best wishes’ and ‘good lucks’ were exchanged at the Green Start with EPs and supporters then I was off for the proper celebrations to Covent Garden with my best friend Dick. There we met daughters Kyla and Iona, Dick’s wife Ellen, my partner Janet, her son Daniel and grand-daughter Amelia. Later two EPs joined us to celebrate - Mike Peel the EPs webmaster and Guinness Record holder and fastest EP Chris Finill and toasted absent friends and super-supporters Phil and Mina. A thoroughly enjoyable lunch was taken at the Café Rouge then it was back to Brum on Virgin – 1st Class of course!

So it’s the END OF MY ERA – is my legacy something to be remembered with satisfaction? Three Guinness World records for Pancakes, 3 Legged and Egg & Spoon (still a record since 1991 3:43). A book detailing the history of the EPs. ‘The Real Marathon Men – London Marathon Everpresents. Best dressed Mirrorthon Entry – Chef & Pancake 1985. 50k raised for 27 charities in silly attire – Dressed as a Bustard; Carrying a zimmer frame (wouldn’t let me wheel it!); Wearing a 3 legged costume (for the Guinness Record). #4 Crutched! Entertaining the masses with numous TV and media appearances – I’ve filled four scrapbooks! My jog-log records of traiing runs and races compiled the following statistics – miles run 45,142. RACES COMPLETE. Marathons 101 (38 Londons incl. 1 wheelchair). 21 Miles #10. 20 Miles #12. 15 Miles #5. Half marathons #57. 10 Miles #6/7/8 Miles #25. 10k #51. 5 Miles #86. 5k x/c #15. Karrimor Mountain Marathon (2 days) #3. Triathlons Olympic distance #15. Ironman triathlons #2. Total races #425.

Finally, immense thanks to all those friends, family, Rotarians, Inner Wheelers and French Study Group and neighbours who have delved deep to support my charities over four decades. Just consider all the help and comfort you’ve given to those in need.

Was it all worthwhile? I’ll let you decide - that’s all folks!

Dale ex. Galloping Gourmet

  Dale Lyons
Age Year Time
44 1981 3:10:03
45 1982 3:09:39
46 1983 3:12:03
47 1984 3:10:31
48 1985 3:55:27
49 1986 3:06:48
50 1987 3:50:24
51 1988 3:09:53
52 1989 3:50:20
53 1990 3:47:19
54 1991 3:34:38
55 1992 4:17:23
56 1993 4:54:49
57 1994 3:47:14
58 1995 3:58:33
59 1996 3:54:24
60 1997 5:46:36
61 1998 6:50:05
62 1999 4:38:33
63 2000 4:25:26
64 2001 4:08:06
65 2002 3:53:22
66 2003 4:49:39
67 2004 4:19:55
68 2005 5:12:46
69 2006 4:45:05
70 2007 5:25:38
71 2008 5:18:17
72 2009 6:40:53
73 2010 6:11:12
74 2011 5:52:29
75 2012 5:49:03
76 2013 6:36:15
77 2014 7:12:39
78 2015 4:36:16
79 2016 6:52:33
80 2017 6:23:06
81 2018 7:46:43
82 2019






What’s it like running 26.2 miles in temperatures exceeding 24c? Ask anyone in the 38th London Marathon! Especially if you’re a Rhino, Big Ben, a Tractor, a Knight in Armour (30kg), carrying a Washing Machine, a Fuller’s Beer Bottle, an Old Fashioned Toilet – yes they’re not all locked up yet and there’s many more. By contrast I was quite conservatively dressed and aided by two union jack decorated crutches peppered with Sense stickers – my chosen charity.

With numbers exceeding 55,000 successful applicants the organisers had introduced THE WAVE SYSTEM (used in the Birmingham half and full marathons) to minimise course overcrowding – Ha! Ha! Each of the 3 starts Red, Blue and Green allocate runners into sections of about 2,000 which are on timed starts where the back markers may take 20-30 minutes to breach the start line. No they are not time penalised because each runner has a dedicated computer chip which is triggered at the start line, so everyone gets their actual marathon time.

Another novelty was someone encouraged H.M. Q.E. to start the race not from Blackheath (too far) but from Windsor! This involved a marathon walk for the Queen dressed in her finest of about 20 metres and then an energetic two handed push of the Red Button at 10 a.m. and we were off – well the front runners like Mo were. Apparently H.M. likes to watch the Marathon. Another quite unnecessary innovation was the introduction of bag checking before the 3 start holding areas by a group of undertrained, overzealous jobs-worth volunteers. Even in the smallest Green start queues built up to over 100 yards. Fortunately as Ever-presents we were able to blag our way in for the official 8.30 photo-shoot. However, common sense did prevail and the queues melted away well before baggage hand in time.

But back to the main plot – why two crutches when last year one sufficed? Well my 7 year old knee and my 3 year old ‘NEW’ ankle were giving me problems so after a knee ex-ray my Doc said ‘Don’t Do It!’ Apparently there was a loose bone chip floating around. This unfortunate pain cut my training by 11 weeks but I thought adding another crutch should suffice. Bad decision! But being an Ever-present – those who’ve done every London – doesn’t come with rationality or common sense! Normally I would do about 10 long runs between 10 and 22 miles; this year I managed just 2 with 18 miles the longest so was severely undertrained. As a result I decided to walk it this being the least joint stressful option.

This strategy would normally work quite well except London has an 8 hour cut-off rule which, if exceeded, means no Medal and No Time. My mode of travel could get me ominously close to that exit time. Especially in the first 13 miles runners and spectators were fantastic with pats on back, ‘incredible’, ‘amazing’, ‘you’re a legend’, ‘unbelievable’ after seeing my Ever-present T shirt – and the USP ‘Every one since ‘81’ + crutching got the sympathy vote. Many times I was offered water and Lucozade bottles en-route. At 15 miles the knee and upper thigh started cramping and threatened to collapse so do I give up or wait till the pain becomes unbearable? I waited and adjusted the crutch sequence to give more support. This tactic worked until 17 miles until I realised with 9 miles and 3 hours to the cut-off I wasn’t going to make it at my present speed of barely 3 mph i.e. 20 min.miles! Twist or bust was the option so naturally I twisted: shortened my stride and moved up to 3.6 mph which I maintained until the 24 mile mark at Blackfriars. I had 2 to go with 45 minutes in the bank and surprisingly still passed dozens of ‘runners’ barely moving.

Up the Embankment, past Big Benn shrouded in scaffolding and pointless, across Parliament Square, down Birdcage walk around Victoria’s Monument glancing at Buckingham Palance – H.M. was still at Windsor – down the 200 metres of The Mall and through the finish in 7hrs.46mins.43 secs. for a P.W. (personal worst) marathon time. I counted myself really lucky to have made it though but (Geordie expression).

The volunteer marshal rejected my request for a second medal – for the crutch - but the baggage handlers gave me great support with the pack-pack. Then off to Tiger, Tiger on the Haymarket for the Sense reception for a well deserved iced lager to meet my good friend Phil and Joe my Grandson and Sian his girlfriend who unexpectedly cheered me en-route!

All eleven Ever-presents finished and at 39,990th I had 157 finishers behind me.






            So what was special about my London Marathon 2017?    Being one of eleven Ever-presents to complete their 37th London?   Running my 100th marathon?   Reaching my 80th birthday through clean living?  Being featured on BBC & SKY TV and en route by BBC’s Ore Aduba the Strictly Come Dancing winner?   Given VIP status for the 1st time at the Green Start?   Oh yes, and raising almost £900 for Sense the blinddeaf charity?   So nothing special eh?

            I actually enjoyed my 37th 26.2.   The weather was great and the EPs were on the front line.  My daughters Kyla & Iona with partner Janet and friends Dick & Ellen cheered me en route.  The spectators and bands were as usual fantastic and I fizzed through ½ hour faster than last year – crutch aided because my reconstructed ankle is not up to a marathon unaided.  My pedestrian  time of 6:23:06 still had 1,760 behind me at the finish.             

            But was it really 1981 when I said ‘I’ll just do one London as it’s the first?   Among the lucky 7,000 we battled through foul weather cheered on by Chris Brasher the London creator.   With the only marathon dead heat and a PB of 3:10 it was a memorable London.  I even had time to revive the knackered Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan with my glucose lozenges.    

            I was now on a roll with a PB and set a Guinness Pancake record of 3:09 in 1983 and to 3:06 in 1986.  Dressed as a chef was now my default marathon attire culminating in a ‘Best Marathon Costume’  Mirrorthon medal in ’89 – an unexpected surprise.  

            Ten years on there were 90 odd ‘Ever-presents’ n 1990 (EPs) including two women but too many for special recognition.   By 1995 the numbers had been shaved to 42 and Chris Brasher decided to create the London Marathon Ever-presents – a unique group you could only leave.   The deal was, keep up your London sequence each year and you’ll be given an automatic entry – simple.  

            These fortunate 42 were each sent a congratulatory letter and a magnificently engraved medallion set in a leather bound presentation case.  The wheels were in motion and shortly after a specialist website was created by Mike Peel to log the names and statistics of this select band of brothers –   The medallion was followed in 1992 with an personally engraved plaque insert with two marathon medals presented by London Marathon to the surviving Ever-presents.   Commemorative ‘T’ shirts for 35 continuous Londons were then presented to the surviving 12 in 2015.

            In 1992 Harry Carpenter the face of BBC Sports sportingly ate my pancake for a £50 donation to Muscular Dystrophy unaware it was a spare concealed in my shorts for 26.2 miles!   So with one Guinness record under my belt a local Childrens charity asked if I would set another record and raise funds in the process. 

            This was the Longest Egg & Spoon Run in the World and set at 29 miles in 4:18 as a Guinness Record.    With the support of Chris Brasher in 1991 setting a measured 4 mile course in Greenwich Park before the marathon ( I had to complete 30 miles and the marathon is only 26.2).  I duly broke the record with 30 miles in 4:17.   N.B. It was a fresh guinea fowl egg and not stuck to the spoon!

            Another Guinness record followed 1995 with a Massey Ferguson R.C. runner Dave Pettifer. We established the first 3 legged World Marathon record in 3:58:33 after an unsuccessful attempt three years earlier when we ill advisedly tossed pancakes all the way!

            But, not content with one 26.2 I was encouraged to complete TWO Londons on the same day to increase my charity fund-raising with my family and friends in support.  I completed the  official 1987 London in 3:50 and the 2nd in 5:09 totalling 8:59 for the 52.4 miles finishing according to Big Ben at 8.46 p.m..    I then completed another commemorative double London in 1989 in memory of my good friend Pat Churcher a fellow marathoner in the faster time of 8:48 with splits of 3:50 and 4:58.   XXX

            Not content with a double I attempted but failed a London triple in my 60th year (1997) justifying my madness by raising more for charity.  A year later in 1998 and by running my 3rd 26.2 which was the official London I duly completed the Triple in 17:12.  My Guinness Record application was rejected because ‘it wasn’t fast enough’!  but, my Cancer Research charity was royally boosted with triple funds!

            Disaster struck in 1992 when training for the World Triathlon Championships.  A Leamington Spa roundabout, heavily coated in diesel removed my bike and gave me in return a broken leg!   The clean break was screwed together and with some heavy wheelchair competitions (including the Abingdon Marathon in 3:17) I was, six months later ready for the 13th 1993 London.   Hobbling along, crutch aided I managed to toss (pancakes) all the way in a pleasing 4:54:49.

            Charity sponsorship have always been my justification for remaining an Ever-present and the pain inducing 26.2 so in 2005 I ‘flew’ the London dressed as a Bustard to help bring the big bird back to Britain after a 100+ years extinct.   Despite the feathers and bird-head the wings slowed me to a 5:12:46 pace but Bustards benefitted by over £1,000 with the help of a Daily Express double page.  

            Another good cause was sponsoring AgeConcern (now AgeUK) for the 26th London in 2006 - I might need them soon so I adapted a Zimmer Frame as my marathon prop.  Unfortunately the  Zimmer wheels weren’t permitted so with some lateral thinking I rigged a strap and carried it the 26.2 in 4:45:04.

            As all the Ever-presents would testify – bloody-mindedness is their lief motive for survival and in 2010 there were 21 left or the original 42 and my right knee was riddled with arthritis.   Biting the bullet I had  a full knee (Oxford) replacement installed in June 2009 and all went well with the operation.   Then after more wheelchair therapy and physio. I tottered through the 2010 London on two crutches in 6:40:53 to remain an Ever-present.   As EPs we must all be masochists!

            The Ever-presents were shrinking at an average of two per annum so by 2022 it would likely be the last-man-standing.    ‘Shouldn’t there be some record of this unique band of brothers?’ I asked?   The EPs agreed to a man but there were no takers.   Eventually in 2012 I counselled opinion on who would contribute of the surviving 16  EPs - 15 agreed.   I was unanimously elected as  author, being the only one and with my autobiographical experience I set to find the other 23  EPs (3 had died by 2010).  Eventually almost 70% contributed i.e. #27 to the research with 1st hand accounts of training, races, charity fund-raising and personal details.

             To the delight of the EPs I was able to complete the book ‘THE REAL MARATHON MEN – LONDON MARATHON EVER-PRESENTS’  in 2014 due to being incapacitated by a replacement ankle.     According to the surgeon the new ankle was not designed to complete 26.2  but nevertheless it has already completed 3 more Londons albeit crutch-aided.  

            I was however given a reprieve from crutches for the 35th London when Hugh Brasher   provided me a Standard Wheelchair place.   My 4:36:16 was my fastest London for 10 years and my legs didn’t ache one little bit!   Londons #36 and #37 have been crutch-aided as the Standard Wheelchair applicants have increased and are decided by ballot so I’ve since missed out for two years.  

            Anyway, now I’ve completed my 100th Marathon is it time to quit?   Hang up the marathon trainers, crutch, training schedules and moth-ball the wheelchair?  My partner, daughters and ankle/ knee surgeons certainly think so.   Quit while you’re ahead and don’t wait until you have to is the advice.   There is a certainly some sense to this argument but if commonsense prevailed I doubt there would be any EPs left in 2017!   Will 11 turn up in 2018?  The jury is out!

Dale Lyons  May 2017



For the 36th London Marathon 12 rather special individuals lined up at the Green Start for a unique presentation ceremony; but more on this later. The weather was cool and damp but the early rain had stopped and the sun was breaking through to what looked a good day for running. These ‘special individuals’ are the London Marathon Ever-presents (EPs) i.e. those who have run every single London since its inception in 1981. But what’s this? Wheel-chairs in the Green Start? Maybe Hugh Brasher had taken my advice after all. The Green Start is the least crowded of all three starts with about 4,000 geriatrics, stars of stage, screen and labour exchange and MPs who want to polish their egos. The masses congregate in Greenwich Park (Red Start), taking the lion’s share and include all the fruit-cakes, fun runners and outrageously turned out Guinness Record wannabees. The Blue Start on Blackheath comprise the Elites, virgins and good club runners.

This year some 40,000 will start and 39,057 will finish with a medal with those outside the 8 hr+- cut-off won’t get a time, medal or goody bag! Hopefully the EP group will beat the deadline with ease although our times are slipping exorably towards the deadline. Our ‘baby’ Chris Finill, is a youthful 57 and our ‘ancient’ is Ken Jones a sprightly 82 and I’m not far off! ‘Show us your numbers’ shout the ever zealous volunteer Green Start gatekeepers to the colourful charity runners. Around 80% will be supporting charities making the London the largest fund raising Marathon World-wide! Mine is AgeUK as they have me in mind as a prospective customer. The queues for the loos grow ever longer as the 10.00 am start time approaches (2 -300 metres long) with many unlikely to get any relief before gun kick-starts the 40.000 hopefuls. With my crutch to protect the suspect ankle I take almost 5 minutes to the start but as we’re all computer chipped my time starts on the start mat. Janet waves me away and photos my retreating derrier.

I’m soon at the back but once the Blue start merges at the mile mark there’s ‘000’s behind me. Similarly, as the Red Start merges at the Woolwich 3 mile mark the heavy mob appear and then I’m passed in a flurry of Rhinos, Wolverhampton 3 man bob-sleigh team (honest!), a Well-Child Nurse 10’ high, The Grim Reaper, a 10’ long Tyrannosaurus Rex, a Red Indian 2 man canoe and a caged Gorilla! They’re not all locked up yet, believe me! I’m nursing the ankle and being back-slapped with ‘awesome’, ‘you’re a legend’, ‘amazing’, ‘you’re putting us to shame’. Of course I’m wearing my Ever-present ‘T’ shirt. A Welshman joins me with a dodgy knee and I speed up and run and chat for 10 miles until I realise my speed might not get me under the cut-off as my 1st half (13.1 miles) took 3:43.49. Over Tower Bridge, past half-way and deafened by a mobile Ghetto Blaster I speed up leaving the Welshman and bump into Janet and my daughter Iona at 21 miles. I’m now passing loadsa knackered runners, rueing their lack of training and paying for it.

Over 6 hours crutching and the magnificent crowds are still cheering – Da-yel! Da-yel! The ankle is still holding even though I’ve ‘speeded’ up to 12 min. miling through the City, under Blackfriars underpass and onto the Embankment’s home stretch at 24 miles. Wow! In the last 7k I’ve passed 550 and none have passed me (post-marathon stats.)! I’ve now caught the Rhinos; Bobsleighs; Grim Reapers; Indians; Large Ladies; and Caged Gorillas. Ha! Great feeling, though-but (Geordie expression)!

My body’s telling me to slow down through the last mile and up to Big Ben then the crutch misbehaves! Parliament Square rises up as I trip full length, cut, bruised and undignified. Four young female runners help me upright but I can’t chat as I’m away up Birdcage Walk, past the Palace (no HRH) and into the Mall’s last 0.2. I see myself on the giant screen as Geoff Wightman, the finish announcer calls my name, rank and serial number –“here’s Dale Lyons who’s run every London and written the Ever-presents Real Marathon Men book!” Good publicity as I check my Garmin time of 6:52:33 – much better than expected. Get the medal (none for the crutch), goody bag and tote bag then find someone’s nicked my commemorative Marathon ‘T’ shirt – the thieving ##$**+@!!!!’s – but, will the organisers send me a replacement?

I almost forgot – the special presentation! Every EP was given a beautifully engraved glass trophy bearing their name to mark their 35th consecutive London Marathon – see photo. They are not easily impressed but are completely gobsmacked. More importantly I’ve raised over £600 for AgeUK!

So will it be a crutching Dale or a Wheelie in 2017? It’s down to the wheelchair ballot and London Marathon – no exceptions for EPs I’m afraid!

RUN STATS. Time 6:52:33 (1st half 3:43:49. 2nd half 3:08:54). Position 38,397th i.e. 660 runners behind at 26.2. Average pace 15.44 mm. Slowest mile 18.28 mm. (13th). Fastest mile 10.45 mm. (25th)
1ST EP. Chris Finill 2:56:05. Weather – Cool / Dry – Perfect!
Dale Lyons


Ken Jones, Bill O'Connor, Dale Lyons, Jeff Aston, Chris Finill, Roger Low, Charles Cousens, Terry Macey Mac Speake, Steve Wehrle, David Walker, Mike Peace






Then there was twelve!    Thirteen Ever-presents started the 35th London marathon after fourteen had survived from last year.   Dave Fereday succumbed to lack of training through illness and Pat Dobbs our fastest Senior was ‘felled’ by an errant water bottle at the Cutty Sark only 6 miles in.    

Generously, London Marathon presented the EPs a bright orange ‘T’ emblazoned with ‘35 AND COUNTING’ at the Green Start.   Unfortunately I had to get to the Red Start and that’s when the trouble started.   Officials first barred the way until I was escorted in my Bromakin wheelchair to the Red start.   Arriving in Greenwich Park I was then ‘arrested’ by the Marathon ‘Police’ whose said they had no record of my race number or my wheelchair entry.   Obviously I was a ‘rogue’ wheelie and in addition the wheelchair’s front wheel was illegal and a danger to the runners!    The start time was getting perilously close and my demeanour bordering on the fragile.    But with Geordie calm and reasoned argument, common sense prevailed and I was shepherded into corral 8 about 5 minutes before the off at 10.10 am.   Not the most auspicious or calming start to my 35th London I can tell you.

Ten minutes after the Gun the front wheel crossed the start-line but not before I was herded aside by three, yes three Rhinos – could it get any worse?    My team of Janet, Dick and Ellen then flash past but did they get a photo?

The Red route is the most testing especially for wheelchairs.   Why?   At 2.5 mile near Charlton Village is a steep hill and rise. Imagine if you will a steep hill packed with thousands of runners wall to wall and a standard wheelchair with no brakes to speak of.  Both my klaxons are going full volume (one a 140 db Hornit) and me screaming “wheelchair = keep left”.   Not a recipe for calm or a lower heart-rate.   Then the reverse up the other side when I’ve little momentum and wondering whether to stop and drag it up!   I just made it approaching Woolwich where all three routes Red, Green and Black converge occasioning much ribald jeering by the runners.  

 What are most taxing features for standard wheelchairs in this marathon?   Firstly we are nudged in with the masses on the most difficult route unlike the elite wheelchairs who get an hour’s free start on the rest of the field.   Secondly trying to pass the 20% or so runners on headphones who can’t hear your horns or screams makes passing almost impossible.   Thirdly the increased London numbers (37,541 finishers is a record) critically restricts the opportunities for overtaking.   Not until the Embankment at 24 miles did passing become easier.   Fourthly the casually discarded water and Lucosade bottles are real obstacles for three or four wheels.   But apart from these minor issues it’s plain sailing!

 It’s worth noting that these problems could be the reason for only 5 or 6 standard wheelchairs taking part out of the 12 that were scheduled.  My pre-marathon attempts to get the Marathon management to change to an easier route i.e. Green or Black for the wheelchairs fell on stony ground.

 All along the route crowds are baying and screaming at fever pitch, the noise is quite painful at times but it spurs you on nevertheless.   More and more bands and groups sideline the course.   Trad and big band jazz;   silver bands;  pop groups;  reggae spots;  Scottish pipe bands;  steel bands;  drumming groups (one under the Blackwall Tunnel approach vibrated through the wheelchair like an electric shock!) and I probably missed a few!

This year changes to the route through the Isle of Dogs and Docklands and into Canary Wharf made the geography difficult to figure at times.   Not that many of the fun-runners noticed.    I passed a kaleidoscope of costumes and outfits e.g. a Bottle of Fullers Beer;  two Rhinos;  a Rocket Ship;  a Telephone Kiosk:  a 12ft Giraffe!;  and various Supermen, Elvises,  Men in Tutus, men as Large Women (scantily clad) and of course the Wolverhampton 2 man Bobsleigh Team – they’re not all locked up yet I can assure you.   Yet all this carnival hoo-hah has an altruistic motive too with over  70% of runners sponsoring good causes and charities.

I’ve now past Tower Bridge, the last real test for me and the wheelchair and onto Commercial Road, towards the City and East End;  over halfway with the Capital Radio mobile home belting out the latest pop.   Across the carriageway in the opposite direction are the fast guys going through 21 miles – show offs!   The last 10km is where the marathon really starts it is said.   At 15 miles my right wrist starts to ached but with the supports I’m not too worried until at 17 miles I fear for a possible DNF (did not finish).    A head-phoned runner crosses in front of me and I crash into the barriers bending the fragile steering rod with the watching crowds shocked into silence.   Gently I ease the rod close to the original position and nurse the delicate mechanism the last 9 miles home – another moment of “will I make it”?   Offers on the inclines to push me I decline until at 20 I’m being pushed up a rise by one of the Ever-presents – thanks Steve (Wehrle).   It must have exhausted him – he was 20 minutes behind me at the finish!

Through Canary Wharf, past the Tower of London and under Blackfriars Tunnel.   I get up my speed to over 10 min. milling (i.e. 7+ mph) as the running thousands slow, walk, stop and move to the fringes of the Embankment nearing Waterloo and the Hungerford Bridges.     My team and eldest daughter Kyla are there but I’m too busy avoiding runners passing the 25 mile mark.  I wheel into Parliament Square jammed with the cheering masses, passing Big Ben, Churchill and the Cenotaph.   Finally only Birdcage Walk and spectator crossings to negotiate then I give HM The Queen a wave as I pass the Palace and fizz down The Mall.

 Flashing through the finish line in 4:36:16, it’s my fastest London for 10 years!   My legs aren’t aching or tired at all!    The top half however is a different story and feeling the effects of the 26.2 mile push.  Of the 12 EP finishers I’m 4th overall – last year I was 14th out of 14 so another reason to celebrate!   Chris Finill our fast guy was first in 2:52 and last, our only Irishman Ken Jones in 6:53 but he made it under the wire. 

A marathon official guides me through the runners and I get a young lady to hang the medal – much bigger than last year.   “Don’t I get another for the wheelchair?” I ask innocently, but no dice.   A warm welcome and drinks await at the AgeUK reception where my support team now include my Grand-daughter Anna and her friend.   I get lots of hugs and well dones.    Then it’s off across the West End to Covent Garden for a proper drink and quality nosh, naturally in the wheelchair.  Will I back in 2016 for the 36th – what do you think, I’m only a youngster?


RACE RESULTS AND STATS.   The Ever-presents are now down to 12 with Dave Fereday a DNS (did not start) in addition to Pat Dobbs DNF (did not finish) at about 6 miles.

My overall position was 23,361st  and 42nd in my o/70 age group (why not a o/75 group?)   A record finishers total of 37,541  (over 14,000 behind me - wow!) 

Dale’s time 4:36:16 – 1st half 2:11.  (6 mph)  2nd half  2:25. (5.42 mph) Average  speed 10.53 min.milling 5.70 mph.

Sponsorship for AgeUK including Gift Aid should generate over £700 thanks to generous support from my family, friends, runners, Rugby Rotary Club, Sutton Park Probus Club, Fircones French class and West Midlands Inner Wheel clubs (District 6), Wheelchair by Bromakin Wheelchairs, Loughborough.

Check out the Ever-presents on our website it’s a cracker and organised by Webmaster Mike Peel a restin Ever-present.  

Dale Lyons aka The Galloping Gourmet 29/04/2015.




As the only Centurion to brave the 20k testing course over the precipitous and undulating Cotswold course at the Warwickshire Agricultural College I was bound to be the first. I was also destined to be the first wheelchair entrant – because there was only one!
Unfortunately the forecasters got it wrong again with a light drizzle before the race making the first quarter-mile a severe downhill of speed bumps, giant potholes and sundry horse detritus particularly hazardous for wheelchairs let alone runners. Almost out of control I just survived but was coated in muddy rubbish.
The race however was excellently organised and marshalled for almost 300 runners (200 in the 10k and 90 in the 20k) by Joanna Welsh.
Apart from a mile or so on a B road the country roads were almost traffic free and for a wheelchair with no brakes quite manageable and a really good workout. On ‘That Hill’ I virtually came to a standstill on the return so on the second lap decided that discretion the better part etc. etc. and as my aching muscles required saving for the run-in I leaped off the wheelchair – ta dah! - and walked up and around the speed bumps and potholes.
Eventually, to a cheering crowd of three I wheeled across the finish in 2:07:40 in 78th place at an average speed of 6.08 mph and dying for the little boy’s room. The reception greeted me with an amazing assortment of bananas, apples, tasty sandwiches, crisps, yogurt and chocolate bars in the College’s Bar/ Café – oh yes and a rather attractive medal. I think they over-catered judging by the piles of leftovers which we were encouraged to take away. My partner Janet also supplied me with a well deserved pint so all was well.
Next up is the Coventry Half which should be a little kinder to wheelchairs and then the Silverstone Half for a faster time provided we don’t have the rain and wind of 2014. After that London beckons in April and a much faster time than my PW of 7:12:45, albeit crutch aided. Centurions - give me a cheer if you’re in any of these races.
Dale Lyons aka The Galloping Gourmet




Despite the vagaries of a new STAR (Scandinavian Total Ankle Replacement) ankle replacement and a serious lack of training, me and my NHS adapted crutches lined up with 13 Ever-presents on Blackheath's Green Start for the 34th London (my39th). Between marathons we had lost our EP legal eagle Jeff Gordon “just too much training” he said - he is after all in his '80's. In glorious sunshine, a light breeze and an ideal temperature of 14c I crossed the start line in 3.5 mins.with about 37,000 and hoping to finish after 26.2 miles in the Mall under the 8 hours cut-off.

This year, only 11 Ever-presents had lined up for the pre-race photo minus 3 laggards, sporting our AgeUK donated 'T' shirts sporting 'DONE EVERYONE SINCE '81'. I was just ahead of the Huddersfield Brass Band, 31 strong going for the fastest 'Band in a Marathon' Guinness record and a host of other weidos (Wolverhampton Bob-sleigh Team; a fibre-glass War Horse; a 42 kilo Fridge-man; a walking Telephone Box; a Bagpuss twice my size; a Bridge & Groom, and a 'Virgin, Virgin' Michael Owen looking rather nonplussed after I told him I'd done every London.
I nursed the ankle until I passed the 10 mile mark in 2:48 (Mo and the elites were long finished) and 'speeded up' to 16 min. miling feeling good. By then I'd been passed by 3 Rhinos and a lifesize tiger! A South African runner turned and shouted “I bought your book!” Then Denise Lewis our Golden Girl heptathlete nobbled me for a TV interview on Tower Bridge around 12 miles (3:20). Then a crutching lady from Scotland passed me in a surgical boot, what cheek – I'd have my revenge at 22 miles though! Then along Commercial Road into London's East End with the fast guys flying through on the other carriageway – show offs!

The 'Death Zone' of the London is the Isle of Dogs aptly named, between 15 and 19 miles – littered with St. Johns helpers and knackered runners where the infamous 'Wall' intervenes. The Galloping Gourmet was going well however, passing through the East End at 20 miles encouraged by the Steel Bands, the massed banks of charity groupees and volunteers, dodging the ½ filled lucozade and water bottles, and the cheering crowds buoyed with marathon fervour and booze – a real festival atmosphere the TV can't replicate.

Hey what's this? I'm speeding up to almost 4 mph and ignore the growing heel blister but then have to stop to give my team of Janet, Dick and Ellen a hug at 22 miles. I do my fastest mile, at 23, over 4 mph and even manage a 'negative split' in 93 marathons (faster 2nd half). I pass a disconsolate trombonist on her own “where's your band” I ask “miles ahead” she cries! On the ground I see a disembodied band music holder. The crowds had heard about the Ever-presents and chanted me all the way to the finish with Da-yul! Da-yul! Da-yul!

Onwards past 25 mile at Embankment and across Parliament Square a runaway pedestrian ahead is chased along the route by a sprinting Bobby to be apprehended by Green Park in a pincer movement. The lady in question looked rather flushed Up Birdcage walk the sign reads 'Only 800 metres to go' so the crutches get another gear and spectators still 4 deep!

I eventually raced in crutch-aided, in 7hrs. 12 mins. 39 secs well inside my target time and actually enjoyed it. That is until I crossed the line and after being hung with the best London Marathon medal ever both achilles seized, the heel blister burst and the toes bled – a relatively small price to pay for a lovely day and the right result.

All the other 13 Ever-presents headed me home and I even managed to raised some funds for AgeUK as I might need their support soon! Roll on 2015 – in a wheelchair perhaps?

Run Stats. Overall position 35,519th Age category 70+ 131st. Behind me (at the cut-off) 248 runners (including Batman!) Winner = Wilson Kipsang 2hrs.4 mins. and a bit -just ahead!

p.s. Prior to the Marathon I was the guest of the Road Runners Club at the Excel Exhibition to sell The Real Marathon Men book and apart from getting Ronnie O'Sullivan's autograph and meeting the winner of the 1982 London Hugh Jones (he remembered my London triple!) I did sell lots more books than expected. I've a few left at £7.99 revised edition




Why do I put myself through this 26.2 miles torture every year? I can’t really think of a good reason other than wanting to be the last EVERPRESENT standing, which is highly unlikely especially as the youngest (and fastest) is nearly 20 years younger. Oh yes! Sponsoring charities is I suppose a very good reason – about £50k raised so far, but it’s a pain chasing sponsors after the event!

Mind you, each year we lose 1.5 EP’s every year and this year we lost 2 so if I keep marathoning another 12 years i.e. until I’m 86 I could just possibly be the last man standing. We’re now down to 18! This year I injudiciously decided to toss (a pancake) the 26.2. Having speed-walked the Ashby 20 in a very respectable 3.47 a similar pace plus a bit for the London would give me a finish of 5.15 and almost an hour better than last year.

In the event I staggered in, in 5.52.29 having run out of steam as early as the 15 mile mark. So why was I so far out from the plan? Compared to last year my training plan had been spot on with my Rotary mate Colin Goupillot chivvying me through the races and sub zero training runs around Birminghams canals and Edgbaston Reservoir – thanks Colin. So where did I go wrong?

Was it the heat on the day? It wasn’t that fearsome. Did I over-train? The 40 mile weeks allowed plenty of pre-marathon recovery time. Did I allow enough rest-time ? I did chill out 2 week before in Lanzarote with swimming and a little road work. Was it the effort of tossing? The pancake weighed about 12 ozs but it didn’t feature in my training. Who knows? All I know is from the 6 mile at Greenwich I knew my target time wasn’t on. Anyway enough of my problems, what about the event?
I arrived at the Green start early, at 8 am for the 9.45 kick-off with Dick my mentor. My partner Janet was sick and couldn’t make her annual pilgrimage in support. Maybe that’s another reason? My daughter Iona came down from Leeds to cheer on Dad and so we had a number of group photos.

Me & Dick; Me, Dick and Iona; Me, Dick and Dwight Yorke. Yes, really the ex Villa, Man.Utd stalwart was also running & did a very respectable 3.35 – a really nice guy. We almost nabbed Will Young for a photo but he was too far away. All around the Heath hot air balloons were being fired up, some with observers in the baskets. And a truly enormous balloon of a motor-cycle and rider totally dominated the scene – how do they do it? On the ground a brass band played favourites and we chatted to a female runner in dressed as a carrot who was going for a Guinness record as the fastest female vegetable – apparently she achieved her target of 4.15 for the record!

Then another group photo with the EVERPRESENTS - about 8 of the 19 running. Another Guinness hopeful being interviewed by the BBC was a young man keepy-uppying all the way. This involves, for the uninitiated, keeping a football off the ground all the time whilst ‘running’ the 26.2. He was being followed by a brass band who were PLAYING whilst walking the 26.2. Obviously they are NOT all locked up yet! No one wanted to interview something as boring as a pancake tosser evidently.

BANG! And it takes me 2 minutes to get to the start line. This year the fine weather has brought out masses more than last year. I’m a constant source of amusement with my Galloping Gourmet Chefs hat and I flip away with reckless abandon in the early stages. Mike Peel, the EP’s webmaster catches up at the mile mark and we chat and run together until the 6 mile mark at Greenwich when he ‘peels’ off to see friends. This year the Cutty Sark is under fire damage repair so we shortcut onto Creek Road through Deptford where a steel band gets in their stride. Assorted debris litter the road, a dead mobile phone, caps, gloves?, T shirts, unused power gels and even pound coins. We turn into Surrey Docks at about 9 miles with the first en-route shower to be avoided - can’t have the pancake waterlogged! It must be well into the 80’s now and no shade. I’m beginning to realise it’s not my day. My pace has slowed to 12.41 at 10 miles and I’m taking on loadsa water with my Hi5 carbo gel. Just beyond the closed Blackwall Tunnel a big band is playing Glen Miller’s ‘In The Mood’ which I’m definitely NOT in. Every year more and more bands and music line the route which creates a real carnival atmosphere. Rest homes and Care homes along the route bring out their patients for a rare treat and sunbathe for a ring-side seat. They must wonder at the suffering huffers and puffers who still manage to give them a wave. Other viewers offer orange segments and jelly babies along the route.

The pubs spill their drinkers onto the pavement who call out ‘toss that flippin pancake Dale’.

The EP’s have ‘31st London and ran every one!’ on their vests & T shirts so we get lots of ‘well done’s’ and ‘amazing’ and ‘fantastic’ and ‘unbelievable’ and ‘incredible’. Some runners slow for a brief chat and some a give a pat on the back, pleased they’ve actually seen an EP to tell their friends.

Crowds across Tower Bridge hardly leave room for the runners then it’s onto the City’s Commercial Road. Fast guys are passing us at 21 while I’m labouring at the 13 mile mark with 2.36.51 on the Timex but still they won’t break 3 hours! In 1986 I was faster at 3.06 for a pancake tossing world record. Ah, happy memories! I try to raise runners spirits at 15 miles at the Isle of Dogs underpass with a piercing Ogi! Ogi! Ogi! – nul response as the ‘runners’ are hanging on for dear life with still 11 to go! My mile splits have eased up to 13.29 min. so I try to raise the pace with a mantra ’only 10 to go’, ‘only 9 to go’ but despite regular doses of carbo gels my pace slows to 14.09 at the 17 mile mark. Fortunately we’re into the Canary Wharf complex with a cooling breeze and mega spectator support . The pancake looks pretty good as I do a double flip into the wind.

‘Hey remember me, Graham Swann (not the cricketer)?’ calls out a runner in clowns gear ‘you know, New York ’81?’ This is a regular marathon meet over the years and yet I know as little about him now as I did when we met in the ’84 London. ‘Only 6 miles to go’ I repeat watching the back-markers struggling through the 13 mile mark. Another clown collecting in a bucket pushes a supermarket trolley laden with assorted packages and dolls. Behind him the 2 man London Bus look-alike struggles. Behind them the clearup brigade is champing at the bit but they’ll be out there for another 6 hours at least! I’m now over 4 hours into the run and slowing to 15.21 miling retracing the Commercial Road and unlike the early miles a noticeably thin line of runners. Most are walking, few are jogging slowly. Then, through the 35k mark my EP pal Dave Fereday calls ‘you’re jogging’ as he strides past at a metronome 12 min. miling to finish 20 mins. ahead. I’ve never in all my marathons been able to do even pace running. At last, downing my last carbo gel and walking at a steady 15 min. mile (4 mph) I get a hearty response to another Ogi! Ogi! Ogi! through the Blackfriars underpass with 2.5 miles to go. It’s now over 5 hours since the start at 9.45 and still the embankment is awash with cheering spectators. They obviously want their money’s worth. I can just about manage a few tosses to keep ME going never mind the crowds. So, it’s under Waterloo Bridge, past Cleo’s Needle, under Hungerford Bridge, past the 25 mile balloons, right at Westminster Bridge, Big Ben and Parliament Square (no protestors). Birdcage Walk seems endless abutting St. James Park and there’s no hiding from the cheering crowds with half a mile to go. So I stop briefly passing Buckingham Palace, no Queen again., and raise a prolong cheer with a triple flip then it it’s down the Mall for the last 200 and the glorious finish at 5.52.29. I even get a cheery mention from the loudspeaker as I cross the computer mat. The volunteers chorus a ‘well done’; on goes the 31st medal and off comes the timing chip – no chip no time. I grab a goody bag and look for my baggage bus – luckily the first one. There’s precious few bags left as I totter to a seat outside the St. John’s first aid centre. ‘My wife’s in there’ a seated runner points inside the marquee, ‘but she’s alright’. he laments.

After 2 bottles of water I manage to remove a sock and discover an enormous blood blister on my toe. ‘Would you like that seen to’ asks a St.John’s volunteer? ‘No thanks’ I reply ‘it’s too far to walk in my delicate state’. Slowly I change, beset with leg, foot and thigh cramps and set off gingerly for our meeting place at the Cancer Research reception. Well, at least I was 20 mins. faster then last year and I wasn’t tossing which is some consolation. And, more importantly and thanks to my Rotarians, friends, neighbours and family around £1,400 has been sponsored for Alzheimers Trust and Cancer Research UK.

CODA The Cancer reception team are entirely gobsmacked with my ‘achievement’ and offer food, a massage and tea – I thank them and take the tea and an official photo. Dick, Ellen and shortly after Iona, my daughter arrive and after a brief sunning on the terrace we meander to Rossi’s restaurant in the Haymarket for a well earned ice cold beer and meal. I feel I’ve earned it! After #86 is it the last marathon? No. Next up the Keilder Water marathon and the 32nd London in Olympic year – roll on!

FINISH TIME 5.52.19. POSITION 31,101 with 3,609 behind me! MALE WINNER 2.04.19.



The forecast was for blue skies and temps. around 22 c so naturally it was cool and raining heavily before the start! At 8.30 fourteen Everpresents were interviewed on BBC TV with Jonathon Edwards who asked ‘you’re not tossing that thing are you?’ referring to my pancake. ‘No’, I said ‘it’s just for the interview’. The Mayor of Greenwich set up off at 9.45 and after a leisurely start at the back I briefly chatted with Richard Branson (dressed as a butterfly) leading Princess Beatrice's 'caterpillar' going for a Guinness record for the fastest group tied together. Along with these exhibitionists was the 15’ high Angel of the North and a look-alike giraffe going for the tallest entry at about 20’. As my new bionic titanium knee was 45 weeks old and an unknown quantity for the distance I decided to race walk and set off at a 12.5 minute mile pace with my Everpresent colleague Dave Fereday, a veteran of this technique.

The starting arrangements for this marathon, for those not in the know, there are 3 starts for the 37,000 field. Red numbers go from Greenwich Park (22,000) including fun-runners; Blue from Blackheath (14,000) including Male & Female elites, and Wheelchairs and Green (2,000) Personalities/ VIP’s & Geriatrics e.g. Everpresents. The starting line-up is Wheelchairs first, Ladies then Elites and everyone else at 9.45.

After 1 mile the Greens merge with Blues Shooters Hill when chaos reigns. Route marshals man the road humps and things settle down for another 2 miles when the Reds converge just above Woolwich. Each group jeering and whistling good naturedly at the other. Shortly before this I’d ‘speeded’ up to 11.40 min. mile pace and lost Dave, never to see him again! In the event he passed me at about the 7 or 8 mile marker. I’m enjoying the atmosphere; the weather has improved and the crowds are in great voice ‘get a move on’ one shouts. At this stage the runners are about 30 abreast and most are passing me at a lick doing 9/10 miling to my 12. Oops someone has dropped their mobile I just avoided stepping on. I doubt it’ll be in good shape for long. One thing puzzles me at 2 miles. There is an enormous queue of runners at a bank of portaloos. Why didn’t they go before the start?

My training this year until 3 months before was on target until sciatica and ham strings injuries laid me up. I could hardly walk so I tried Chinese massage, sports masseurs, osteopathy and low frequency pulse treatment. All of this got me back to training only 5 weeks before the big day which gave no time for the long (20 mile) runs I needed – my max was 15 with speed infills so I knew that at 16 in the marathon I would have to wing it. With 29 Londons in the bag my experience I reasoned would pull me through. Also my team would cheer me en route (Janet, Dick, Ellen and in the later stages my daughter Kyla). Advanced technology was also on hand in the shape of my other daughter Iona who could track my progress on her i -phone through the computer mats every 5k. These mats link to the runners’ computer shoe chip and provide an exact timing for every runner. Cool n’est pas?

There are also a number of blind runners with guides every year and around the 5 mile mark I passed one. A few seconds later the same pair barged into my back and I had to resist saying ‘can’t you look where you’re going?’ Although I didn’t see them some runners were carrying fridges??? Ladders? a Tiger (stuffed replica). As if just running 26.2 miles wasn’t enough. At the 12 mile mark on Tower Bridge two runners are dragging a sledge with a wall on it with a ‘break through’ company message on it. ‘Whatever next’ I asked myself narrowly being run over! Turning into the Commercial Road at 12 miles the fast guys are running through 21 in the other lane and I thought they’ll take about 3.5 hrs. I went faster than that in the ‘80’s!

Anyway I’m through the half in 2 hrs. 53 mins. and slowing up with my miling around 14 mins. but feeling good and still in control. My supporters give me a lift at 15 mile but have no drinks or take no photos – what am I paying them for? I give a timely Ogi; Ogi Ogi at the Commercial Road underpass and get a soto voce response. The drink stations are running low as the temperature rises. I’m starting to overtake loads of walkers which feels good. I take a handful of jelly babies from a large lady and take my second hi carb jell which provides a much needed boost through to 20. I’m jogging at 14 min. miling, feeling good with the bionic knee in good shape too. An ambulance screeches through and I see a runner vomiting curled up and in bad shape surrounded by St.Johns aides. Large queues of runners line up for the portaloos this side of Canary Wharf and I think ‘if they wait too long they’ll seize up’

So far we’ve past jazz groups; big jazz bands; steel bands; very noisy drum bands; brass bands; salsa bands; pop groups; boy cadet bands; yes they’re all out there playing to the biggest audience they will ever play to. And, new this year a gyrating / swinging scantily clad group of young ladies – head turners all.

Spectator banners vie for notice – taller, wider, more colourful, now with photos, exorting their runners ‘well done son!’ We’re now over 5 hours into the marathon around Canary Wharf and houses, streets and buildings are still crammed with spectators shouting themselves hoarse. I’m jogging along at a leisurely 14 min. miling and passing ‘00’s of runners many the worse for wear and still 6 miles to go. The clear up trucks are out; the millions of discarded bottles are being emptied by the volunteers and bagged up. Steam hosers are vainly trying to remove super-glued gel packets from the road.

Passing the Tower of London a lonely beefeater shares some sympathy with an exhausted walker. The City of London streets and along the Embankment are still packed and suddenly I hear ‘Daddy’ screamed from the pavement. It’s my daughter Kyla who finally made the route at the 25 mile mark so we exchange hugs and arrange an Admiralty Arch meeting.

Up Birdcage Walk and passed the Q.V. monument, Buckingham Palace and down the Mall. But where’s H.R.H Elizabeth 2? This is the 30th time she’s failed to give me a wave – honestly! No-one looks up from the press box as I signal 30 completed. They’re all waiting for the Gingerbread Man whom I’m well ahead of at 26.2., as well as assorted Star Wars warriors and Rhinos – and Gordon Ramsey who wimped out earlier.

I meet up with my support team and changed under the Arch then set off for St. Martin’s Lane and tapas and plenty of cold beer with Janet, Dick, Ellen, Kyla, Anna (grand-daughter), Phil and Mina (see pic.). Then back to Brum on the 19.17 – first class of course! What a day!
Finally, a great day all round with appropriate cool weather for half the course and loads of fantastic support - I lost count of the bands. The knee held up well = in fact I jogged a few miles from the 19th mile and eventually came in 34,635th with almost 2,000 behind me and 30 mins. faster than last year – without crutches!

Hey! It may not be my last marathon after all - but time will tell.

Unfortunately one of the Everpresents didn't make it so we're now down to 20!.
Dale’s time 6 hours 11 minutes 12 seconds. 34,635th
Official finishers 36,524.
Marathon # 85
Charity ‘Thanks for Life’ End Polio Now campaign. Amount raised £808.20
Thanks to all my Rotarian friends, Midlands Fretted Orchestra, Fircones French group, friends, neighbours and family.
April 2010. Dale (Galloping Gourmet) Lyons




What a glorious day it turned out after the diabolical weather predictions.  Hot air balloons on the heath and portaloos by the thousands – what more could one want?


With little training, owing to clapped out knee & underarm crutches that were abandoned at enormous expense I turned to DWR (deep water running) loadsa gym work and a modicum of crutch practice to keep my EVERPRESENT status intact with 22 remaining at kick off.


Dick dropped me off near Blackheath Village a short walk from the Heath.  But, the start area (3 start points  Red, Blue & Green) is now so restricted and convoluted I had another 15 min. crutch to my Green start area.  Ah! for the halcyon days of ’81 when you could park 30 secs., from the Greenwich Park start & only 4,999 runners (no women).    Still, that’s the price of success!


Only 12 of the Everpresents showed for a photo – all complaining of restricted training but with my crutches I had the edge.   This start is supposed to be for celebs  plus a few geriatrics & virgins (1st timers) so it’s a comfortable 2,000 field.  


Gordon (Ramsey) gave me a dismissive look of recognition.   The other crutched athlete, an wounded officer from Afgan service said he would take 2 weeks to complete at 2 miles a day – amazing!.   A Flora Marathon rep. Ben with whom I’d been involved introduced himself.  A group of 24 linked Welsh runners said they were attempting a Guinness record – nuff said.     Blind Dave Healy walked straight past me until I cried “Blind Dave!” – then we chatted.  Finally, I allowed the Mayor of Lewisham who was starting our marathon to be photographed with me.


It was a leisurely start with me crutching at the rear but still passing someone who was walking after ½ mile!    Then chaos as the Blue start runners joined in at the 1mile mark.   Similarly, just as the pace had settled we got to Woolwich and in came the Red runners to catcalls and boos. 


 I was hopping, lopping, crutching along at a steady 4½ mph pace checking on the many pothole hazards.   My knee felt comfortable although my right hand was losing feeling. 


Janet, my partner was supposed to buzz on the hour – nothing, so at 7 miles I tried her mobile to learn they had arrived at the 6 mile! Hey ho – the best laid plans & all that.  I’m getting phenomenal support from the passing runners & spectators due to my Everpresent status & crutches – very encouraging.  Coins, missing charity buckets, discarded bum bags, wigs?, T shirts littered the route, as the heat built with no shade or breeze as I loped towards Greenwich and the moth-balled Cutty Sark at 7 miles.


I  slowed to 4 mph stopping at every other water station and got passed by 6 joined up runners in a Hearing Dog costume – God I thought, they must be baking.   Then my first (lady) Rhino past – I could tell from the hairless thin legs & running style.  

Displacement is a always a good way to minimise pain so for the next 3 miles I fantasised about the delicious meal we’ed booked in the tapas restaurant.


Just before Tower Bridge I stopped for my 2nd round of painkillers and was then interviewed on the Bridge by a gobsmacked BBC TV personality Rob on seeing a crutched ‘runner’.   


At 12 ½  miles the route is a dual carriageway for 3 miles with the fast guys & gals fizzing past having already completed 22 miles – showoffs!  At the halfway mark I’ve been crutching for 3hrs 4mins. so my ETA should be around 6 ½ hrs. & well under the cut off time. My team are no shows again at 14 miles which is very distressing when you’re expecting some TLC.   Anyway they eventually appear at 15, West Ferry – Isle of Dogs AND with no jelly babies.   Then we’re into the  Docklands 4 mile loop which drags on interminably.   I’ve slowed to around 15 min. miling i.e. 4 mph but feeling ok.   One problem with crutches you can’t grab assorted offerings from the spectators such as jelly babies;  orange segments;   juicy fruits;  cans of lager;  ice  lollies etc.etc.. most of which are not really advisable ‘treats’ during a marathon.  


The noise around the Canary Wharf is deafening echoing off the skyscrapers with watchers screaming out Da-el;   Da-el;  Da-el;  as I limp past – I’m getting the sympathy vote for the crutches!     Slow as I am I’m now passing assorted walkers and others collapsed on the pavement, some throwing up, most exhausted others being aided by the redoubtable St. John’s – they’re a godsend!   Through Canary Wharf  I then leave Peter Andre & Jordan surrounded by media & minders, in my wake. 


Only 8 to go as  someone trips over my crutch – I stop to pick it up and a blind runners partner offers his water bottle – how nice!   My team Janet, Dick & Ellen eventually show up at 21 miles to take some photos and dole out water & TLC but again no jelly babies.  


 “You’re amazing;  incredible;  fantastic; unbelievable; well done;  good job;  runners call out as they read the T shirt ’29 Londons & ran every one  -’   Well, as Max Bialystock said in the Producers ‘if you’ve got it – flaunt it!’


The runners have thinned significantly through the East End & along Commercial Road but the crowds  won’t leave as they cheer another Elvis ah- hu- hu ing all the way.   I get on the shoulder of Barak Obama at 23 miles but he pulls away embarrassed to be overtaken by an invalid.   On the adjacent carriageway other walkers & fun runners are still 10 miles behind the crutches – when will they finish?  At dusk probably.    


Then, just as I’m making a push for the tape – excruciating cramp in my right thigh and another in my right calf.   I stop to ease & massage the pain away, taking off the knee strapping.   I’m now hobbling at less than 3 mph.  Where’s St. John when you need him?     He/ She turns up at 23 ½ miles approaching Blackfriars so I succumb to the soothing hands of a matronly lady for 5 mins. – any longer and I might not leave.


With a last gasp through the Blackfriars underpass  I give out a cri de coeur Ogi; Ogi; Ogi;  to which a few stragglers gamely respond and into the sunshine of the embankment with 2 miles to go.  


All along and under Waterloo & Hungerford Bridges the charity groupies and a faster EP give me a fantastic lift then its past the Sri Lankan protesters in Parliament Square,up Birdcage Walk passed Buck. House (no wave from HRH); past a sign saying ONLY 385 YARDS TO GO & down the Mall to the glorious finish line with hundreds behind me.   Just before the line, I stop and give a crutch bow to the phalanx of camermen.   It doesn’t seem like 29 years since I completed the 1st London – where did it all go?


That’s it!   Next year I’m taking it easy in a wheelchair as it’s downhill all the way!  Or am I?   Whatever - roll on 2010 – and the redoubtable 21 EVERPRESENTS.


Congrats to Pat Dobbs 1st O/70  o/o  #94             3hrs. 31mins.03secs.              Phenomenal!


Later I learned the Everpresents have lost another so we’re now down to 21.  Check all the marathon Info. Photos, Stats, Runners on our website


Dale’s stats.   Official finish time  6 hrs. 40 mins. 53 secs.

1st Half   3.04.32  2nd half 3.36.21

Average speed  15.30 mins. 3.92 mph.

Fastest mile. 12.42 mins. 4.70 mph

Overall position 34,546 th  Position in age group +70 cat. 84th o/o 94.

Finishers.   Total 35,247  Men 24,230  Women 11,017

Slowest logged finisher 8 hrs.50 mins.41 secs. Dan Tarawik (GBR)

Number of unlogged finishers unknown.

Logged runners in Dale’s wake  701 Men 292 Women 409


Dale  aka Galloping Gourmet.  28/4/09



My 31st London Marathon (other Everpresents #26) was completed in the relatively slow time of 4.45.04 on a rainy but mild day.   However I was carrying (yes carrying) a standard Zimmer frame as my wheeled version was judged ineligible by London Marathon Ltd.    I did attempt to get special dispensation for the Zimmer and Aged Concern but to no avail ‘ you’ll be disqualified and banned for life’ was the kindly reminder of the rules!

So it was a case of 'No wheels on my wagon' for 26.2.   As a result I rigged up a harness from found bits the night before and up kept a steady 10+ minute miling all the way - due to my rigorous training, general superb fitness and a    handy store of jelly babies!    After 20 miles they perform miracles – honest!

Before the start the Everpresent’s met at the Greenwich Park Grandstand for a group photo – but unfortunately only 10 showed.

            During the run the spectators and runners gave me fantastic support and many couldn’t believe I was carrying a zimmer.  ‘Vos ist das?’  A  German runner  asked – ‘ja woll’ I responded.   ‘Les Anglais sont fou!’  two French runners commented.   ‘Qui,  mais je n’est pas le trop fou’  I replied, thinking of St. George pulling the Dragon who is going to take a week to finish!   They’re not all locked up yet are they?   

Not having had time to practise on the wheel-less zimmer I’d little idea of the possible problems en route so kept to a relatively sedate pace early on.   The neck strap I’d attached slipped around a bit until the rain fixed it and at fourteen miles I stopped and raised the height to stop it grounding.   After that it was mind over matter.  

            Again, the route had been changed again this year just to confuse the masses so at 12.5 miles the route took the right hand of Commercial Road into the East End and into the Isle of Dogs loop the opposite way, exiting past Canary Wharf which as usual was jammed to the rafters.  The noise was deafening!    

            Then under the Blackwall tunnel underpass and later the Blackfriars underpass I managed to kickstart a Ogi! Ogi! Ogi! the runners marathon chant.    In fact it’s become so popular a DJ en route near the 11 mile mark exorted passing runners to Ogi! naturally they responded.   

The London has now become as much a street party as a marathon run.   Along the route spectators had dressed up and waved flags, placards, names ‘Hello Dad’ and the burgeoning charity worker groups with masses of message balloons screaming their heads off when their runners passed.   Big bands, brass bands, steel bands, disco music, bagpiper groups, rock groups, R & B bands – you name it they were there with the spectators urging the runners to go faster than their fading legs would carry them.

Helpful runners offered and passed me drinks – taking pity on me with some  running and  chatting with me for a while.   Distractions like that helped to pass the time and displace the pain!

Surprisingly, despite my partner Janet and friends Dick and Ellen being at the Cutty Sark (7 miles), Island Gardens on the Isle of Dogs (16 miles) and near Cleopatras Needle (25 miles)  I never saw them even though they saw me.    Unless spectators have some clearly noticeable marker – big notice/ large balloons/ giant umbrella etc. runners just see a sea of faces flashing past.   Despite the rain the course seemed more crowded this year with hardly a gap on the 26 miles.   

For 1st time runners or those whose training hasn’t been enough there’s plenty of carbo nourishment on the route – apart from the official lucozade stands – such as orange segs., bananas, chewits, lollypops, mars bars and best of all jelly babies which give you a real sugar surge – especially for those who really hit the wall!

I'm now known as the Zimmerman - what a Burden - and was very briefly   interviewed   on BBC TV.,  by Colin Jackson (ex world record holder) on Tower Bridge at the 12 mile mark.   He was rightly gobsmacked by my attire and almost lost for words.

I was still running around 10 minute miling from 20 so had the really delightful feeling of passing hundreds of static, walking, shuffling runners – not so nice when your one of them!   The miles at this ‘speed’ seem to flash by.     I stopped briefly at the Aged Concern groupies at 25 mile mark who collectively gave me a rousing cheer and thumbs up – I speeded up – briefly!

At the finish the crowds raised a cheer as the route DJ called out ‘here’s the Zimmerman’ and crossing the line Sally Gunnell shouted ‘well done Zimmerman’.    Off came the computer chip (no chip no time) which gives your personal times from the start and at 10 km, 25 km, 35km., and the finish – this removes the previous anomaly whereby delays for the back markers were added to your overall time.  

Finally the London Evening Standard met me for a follow up to their Friday article on the Everpresents.   Got the medal over the Galloping Gourmet hat and felt really good!  The Zimmer felt better!

            At the Aged Concern HQ they were over the moon with the TV publicity and provided lots of TLC with lovely cups of tea and buffet snacks and massage & photos and seats!

Anyway, most importantly I've raised around £600 so far for Aged Concern - I might need them sooner than later - so I’d like to thank all my sponsors unreservedly for their generosity, good wishes and support before, during and after the marathon.   Well done!


Many thanks and best wishes.

Dale (Galloping Gourmet)  aka Zimmerman


p.s. Overall this was my 71st marathon and it seems the Everpresents  are now down to 24 as four either didn’t start or finish.   So bring on 2007!



Dale’s run statistics.   10 miles 1 hr. 45 mins./  13.1 miles 2 hr. 13 mins./   20 miles 3 hr.31mins./

                        Last 6 miles. 1 hr.14 mins.   Overall mile pace  10.87 mins.



Fortunately the weather pundits got it wrong again. The 17th April 2005 dawned clear, sunny and windless on Blackheath – perfick for the record 42,000 entrants assembled around the Churchill hot air dog.

The previous evening 14 of the 29 Everpresents were feted by Dave Bedford the Marathon supremo for supporting all 25 Londons with a lavish East End feast – plus a ‘lecture’ on how lucky we were to get automatic entry every year – thanks Dave! This year I spurned the Galloping Gourmet chefs gear and pancake in favour of the more flamboyant Great Bustard costume – my sponsored charity. In view of my 5hr 12 min. PW (personal worst) time, was this the right decision? Eggs from Russia are being hatched into Little Bustards (extinct in the UK for 200 years) and reintroduced to Salisbury Plains. So far so good eight years on for the Bustards. Had I done the right training since my knee injections of hydroluric acid? A testing 20 mile Ashby race in 3 hours and long 17 & 22 mile cross country runs were about right. So what went wrong – I was confident of a 4 hour time + or – 10mins.? My Bustard gear weighed a mere 1.5 lbs with little wind resistance so was the problem a low carbo load?

The EP’s (Everpresents) were given a Green start so I snuck into the Celebs. Area with 10 mins. to go and chatted to Master Chef Gordon Ramsey who remembered me tossing (pancakes) in the Great North last year (after a little memory jog). The Cheeky Girls were just ahead – great motivation, and with a hard man from The Bill to one side I was obviously in select company. The marathon attracts the great & the recognised with Sue Barker interviewing Steve Redgrave and the EP’s granted an official photo-shoot under the Green startline – thanks again Dave.

The Mayor of Greenwich officiated the start in some heraldic finery which I had admired at close quarters earlier and I was off flapping. Cruising through Charlton for a 8.40 min. first mile I gradually subsided to 10 min. miles by the 6th at Greenwich and I already knew things weren’t going according to the 9 min. mile plan. As I slowed, passing runners pushed & shoved past – inconsiderate b******s. Others, plus a few EP’s gave a merry salute. Spectators pointed and laughed with ‘Go you Bustard’ – and other words! Children shouted - ‘look a duck!’ I flapped onwards, increasingly disjointed. At 10 miles I passed a fallen runner . I learned later that a doctor acquaintance who was also a ‘virgin’ marathoner had given him the kiss of life. The 59 year old was later pronounced dead.

Considering the numbers involved i.e. 572,000 finishers in 25 years, there have been few fatalities or serious injuries.

On to Tower Bridge at 12 miles and the legs feel they’ve done 26. Then, Sally (Gunnell) for BBC TV stops me and asks ‘What’s a Bustard’ I tell her, flap my wings and stumble on. This year the course has been ‘improved’ so no Tower; no cobbles; no Katherine Dock chicane; no Beefeaters PLUS the whole of the City/ Docklands loop has been reversed – very confusing. Paula didn’t like it either so take heed London!

I’d arranged to meet my Daughters Kyla & Iona & Grandchildren Joe, Marisa & Anna at Canary Wharf the 16 mile mark but as this was now the 18.5 mile mark they’ll have given up waiting I thought. Rounding the last bend before the Tower there they were shouting and screaming, waving a decorative homemade Bustard banner and grinning a welcome – more I think from relief. A cooling draught of water and a chewy fig bar later I trotted off feeling fresher and grateful for the boost! Eight miles to go seems forever especially as the miles had lengthened to 14 mins. – my legs were leaden but why I asked? I’d done the training. Answer came there none! Briefly I was tempted by a notice ‘free massage for those worn legs here’.

Twenty of so male & female runners legs were being caressed & soothed by oiled hands. A marathon official raised the tape when he saw me but I stupidly resisted and stubbled on and into the last 7 miles turning towards the City. Commercial Road stretches for ever through the East End’s monotony, grime and lack lustre parade of tatty shops and housing. However, we were briefly encouraged to see ‘runners’ passing on the other carriageway 8 miles BEHIND us being chased by the marathon Clean-up trucks – how embarrassing! By now the Bustard wings are chaffing my elbows and I’m getting a sunburned neck after almost 4 hours – Jeez I should be finished and onto the beers already! Instead I work out I’ve another 60 mins. of suffering at least. I’m stopped again at 22.5 miles for another BBC interview and am glad of the brief respite. The next 2 miles are a blur enlivened by a roistorous ‘Ogi. ogi, ogi under Blackfriars tunnel. Along the Embankment the crowds are 4 deep and enjoying the shambling, walking and stumbling (few are running) at 24 miles. Then there’s my partner Janet, her sons Daniel & Pat with Susannah & Jo, my friend Dick, Ellen and assorted supporters. As I cry out ‘I’m b****cks’ camera’s flash, water is offered, well dones are shouted and I’m off for another 1.5 miles of agony. The legs have died so what’s keeping them moving. Mind over matter that’s what! As Cleopatra’s needle hoves into view I suffer the final indignity – I’m passed by a taxi cab lookalike and worst of all the Rhino – it’s a very long time since the Camel went by. The Bustard dies of shame!

At the finish the tannoy announces my arrival shortly followed by two Wombles. My time of 5 hours 12 minutes 46 secs. Is 2 hours 15 min. 31 secs slower than my fastest marathon 21 years ago and my slowest single marathon of the 69 I’ve run to date. My 70th will be a lot faster – you have my word!

I collect my bag off the last truck – of course, and am accosted by an Italian runner who wants to know how many marathons I’ve done – despite speaking virtually no English. We converse in sign language writing numbers in the dirt. He has done 65. Ha! I’ve done 69 – molto bene! Feeling better I stagger off to find my family thinking - will I be back again next year!?*?? Of course you will stupid!

SOME RACE STATS. Women’s winner Paula Radcliffe 2.17.46 World record. Men’s winner Not English. Fastest UK man John Brown 2.10. p.b. DALES SPLIT TIMES. 5 Mile 45 mins. 10 miles 1.37. Half 2.12. 15 mile 2.35 20 mile 3.41. Last 1.2 mile 17 mins.! 1st half 2.12 2nd half 3.00 hrs. Average mile speed 11 mins. 54 secs. ‘Everpresents’ remaining, 28!

Dale (Galloping Gourmet) Lyons aka Great Bustard. As a result of some inspired sponsorship the Great Bustard Group charity will be over £600 better off – well done all my sponsors!!!

A new Marathon World Pancake Tossing Record was created in the 24th London (OAP's Section) on Sunday April 18th in a blistering time of 4hrs. 19mins.57 secs. (unconfirmed) by Dale Lyons the Galloping Gourmet. It would have been faster but a waterlogged pancake slowed Dale down! Also you could have seen Dale on BBC Telly (twice) being interviewed by Ricky Pasad (12.30) and our Olympic Gold Medallist Sally Gunnell (hi-lites). Unfortunately, these interviews further slowed Dale's record time overall. He was however, glad of the rest.

For the 1st 20 miles Dale was cruising to a sub 4 hour finish with pancake flipping energetically - then a combination of mobile phone interference, the onset of drenching rain, pancake fatigue and general debilitation slowed him down through the Isle of Dogs and the City.

He was further disoriented by being passed by an assortment of 2nd rate fun runners in the shape of Wombles; Telephone Kiosks; Geriatric ladies; Calendar Girls; Superman and worst of all Batman & Robin! However he did not suffer the grosser indignity by being well ahead of IDS and Lord Archer - thank God!

Dale's time put him respectably in the 1st 50% of finishers (15,883rd) with over 15,000 behind him! This was the 24 London Marathon and Dale's 29th having run 4 doubles & 1 triple London on the same day - they're not all locked up yet! So it's now 67 marathons and counting.

At the finish Dale was met by his partner Janet (speedy) Tomlinson and his daughter Kyla, Simon and grand children Joe and Anna who were mightily impressed with the medal and soggy pancake - still edible. Afterwards he had a fabulous welcome at the UK Cancer post marathon reception and was treated to an elite massage and weak tea - fortunately just missing the torrential downpour which 'drowned' many late finishers (they should have run faster!).

The important thing is, over £420.00 has been raised for the Bobby Moore Cancer Fund so Dale thanks all his generous sponsors - family, friends, neighbours and fellow Rotarians. (cheques should be made out to the 'Bobby Moore Fund - UK Cancer ').

Dales next marathon will be in New York City in November - for the 7th time - but not tossing this time!

May 5th 2004 Dale (Galloping Gourmet) Lyons

Dale, the Galloping Gourmet, is our super star.  He is the "Pancake Man" - I have only recorded his fastest time of the day as he has run the London more than once, several times! 

1986 ran 3.06 for a World record pancake toss - Guinness Book
1987 ran there and back! 3.50  & 5.09 (Double London in 8.59!)
1989 3.50 & 4.58 ( 2nd Double London 8.48)
1990 Longest Egg & Spoon world record Guinness Book in 3:44
1992 4.17 Fastest 3 leg marathon (yes three legged) with Dave Pettifer
1993 4.54 Crutch aided after broken leg in August 92
1994 3.47 Failed attempt on egg & spoon world record
1995 3.58 New 3 legged world record Guinness book entry, again with Dave Pettifer Massey RR.
1997 4.37 & 5.28 Double London but failed attempt on triple retired after 61 miles.
1998 5.14, 5.23 & 6.35 Triple London in 17hrs 12 mins Guinness book rejected (not fast enough!).  Started Blackheath 22.00 hrs. Sat finished Mall 15.12 hrs. on Sunday 26th April.

Does this mean Dale has done 30 London's? YES is the answer.


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