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111 half marathons for John

John Half Marathon runner

Running his 111th race on Sunday, 13 May will be John Stafford, who is hoping to claim a place in the top three of the over 60s category at The Lexicon Bracknell Half Marathon.

John, who works as a fitness instructor at Bracknell Leisure Centre's BodyWorks gym, will be taking on the 13.1mile course - the 18th time he will have completed the race.

But despite his passion for running he didn't actually start exercising until his late 30s and only starting running marathons in 2001.

John said:

"I wasn't ever really inspired to run, it was more a case of being badgered into it. I only started exercising at 38 years old and managed to avoid running until I was 44.

"The instructors at the gym I went to were constantly trying to get me to run as my fitness improved, but I stubbornly refused as I hated running from my school days."


As well as completing well over 100 half marathons, John has also completed 14 full marathons - including 6 London Marathons.

John added:

"I ran my 100th half marathon at Bracknell in 2016 and will be running my 18th Bracknell half in a row in 2018. My aim is to do 20 and hopefully 25 Bracknell Half Marathons in a row. This year I'd like to aim for a finish in the top three for the over 60s."

John says that he hopes his story can encourage others to take on the challenge. He added:

"I used to lead the beginner's running group at BodyWorks gym and several beginners went on to run the Bracknell Half Marathon and also went on to join Bracknell Forest Runners. I always wanted to tell those runners in my group my story in such a way that I was inspiring them to believe in what they could also do, rather than impress them with my achievements - the same way I like to encourage all customers at the gym of what they are potentially capable of."

There's just under 15 weeks until the race, which this year will be starting and finishing at The Lexicon.

It's estimated that beginners should leave between 12 to 15 weeks to train for a half marathon, depending on their fitness levels.

John's top tips for anyone taking on their first half marathon are:

  • start slowly and increase training mileage gradually
  • don't overdo it in training - keep the long runs slow to build up the endurance
  • beginners should be able to train for a half in 12-15 weeks as long as they don't set their sights too high - just aim to complete your first one

Cllr Iain McCracken, executive member for culture, corporate services and public protection, said:

"John's achievements are amazing but what is most inspiring is that he didn't actually start running until a little bit later in life.

"If you are thinking of taking on a sporting challenge this year then why not sign up for The Lexicon Bracknell Half Marathon? There's still time to train!"

Sue Boor, head of marketing at The Lexicon, says:

"We hope that people are inspired by John’s story and training tips. We hope that the pre-race training is going well for those that have already entered and of course if you haven’t entered yet, there’s still time."