By Jacob King and Alex Matthews
A former postman who began running as a bored 20 year old because ‘it was something to do’ is still pounding the pavements at the age of 88.
Arthur Walsham puts on his running shoes four times a week and goes jogging for 50 minutes to keep himself in shape.
He has even completed 200 5km Park Runs on Saturday mornings, including in the recent searing heat, although claims to be disappointed that he ‘only’ finishes ahead of around six others.
The dedicated amateur jogger has completed 53 marathons and four 30-mile races in his illustrious career and enjoyed considerable success in his 40s when he won four world marathon and 25km races.
He still holds the northern record for the fastest over 40 10K race which he set back in 1971 and completed his last marathon at the age of 65, labelling his time of three hours and 20 minutes ‘rubbish’.
His training for his feats involved running to from home in Stockport to work at the central Post Office in Manchester every day, a distance of six-and-a-half miles, and at his peak in 1971 he was running an average of 96 miles a week.
Despite nearly hitting 90, dad-of-three Arthur is in no mood to give up running any time soon.
Arthur from Stockport, Greater Manchester, said: “I started at age 20 and I have been running ever since. I’m into my 68th year but it’s a little more like jogging now.
“I do it four times per week and do the Park Run 5km, although there are only ever half a dozen people who finish behind me.
“But I will always run, no matter how slowly, until I am absolutely forced to give up. Hopefully that day won’t come.
“People have asked me about my knees for years but I’ve not had any problems with them despite having done thousands of miles.
“At one time for a few years I was running from Stockport to work Manchester every day.
“I used to take the bus into work on Monday morning with my running clothes and a few shirts, then run every day until Friday evening when I would come back on the bus again.
“I have run 53 marathons in my time and four 30-milers. I have run every distance imaginable from 100 yards to 30 miles in race meets and competitions.
“I did my last marathon when I was 65 in three hours and 20 minutes, which was rubbish.”
Arthur was conscripted into the army at the age of 18 and left 18 months later when he was 20 years old.
By the time he left and got a job in Manchester, his parents had moved back to Birkenhead, Merseyside, and he was forced to move into digs.
With nothing to do in the evenings and admitting to feeling extremely bored, he joined a friend at Salford Harriers athletics club and became a member in 1950.
“When I was 18 I was conscripted to serve 18 months of the army. I came out when I was 20 and went to work in a post office in Manchester.
“My parents had moved back to Birkenhead so I had to go into digs.
“There was nothing at all for me to do in the evenings but my friend was a member of the Salford Harriers, so I went along to their training.
“At first they trained me to be a half-miler, but in winter no matter what the distance they did everyone ran six miles cross country.
“From there I started running more and more distances and I completed my first marathon when I was 29.
“I would always look forward to every race. I might get a bit nervous, but if you don’t have nerves you shouldn’t be there. You’ve got to have something in you.”
He married his wife Enid Walsham, 85, just five years after he first began running in 1955.
Arthur claims the highly trained athletes of today are no better than some of his peers were in the 60s and 70s.
Having started running in a pair of £1.50 pumps, he also says that although the technology of the equipment has come a long way he doesn’t always appreciate modern running gear.
Arthur said: “I don’t agree that people at the top level today are faster or better than we were.
“They are full-time but all the top runners back then were training at the start and end of a full working day. People didn’t get money for it and we were so-called amateurs.
“Even so Ron Hill did the Boston Marathon in two hours 10 minutes.
“There has been a big change in equipment. When I started you couldn’t buy specialist running shoes.
“I ran my marathons in £1.50 Dunlop pumps. The shoes today are too high and increase the chances of your foot going over left or right.”
Arthur wrote a book about his running experiences, titled ‘My Life On The Run’, so his grandchildren would be able to read about his exploits.
He has donated proceeds for the book to the Parkinson’s UK charity and also has a fundraising page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/arthur-walsham
1971 – Won National Vets (Veterans) Cross Country Championship in Hull
1971 – Won World Vets 25K in Czechoslovakia (Time – 1hr 22min 39sec)
1971 – Won Northern Vets 10K Track Championships (Time – 31min 09 sec) (Record still stands)
1972 – Won World Vets Marathon in Cologne (Time – 2hr 24min 59sec)
1975 – 1st Over 45 World Vets Marathon in Tokyo (Time – 2hr 29min 53sec) (3rd overall)
1975 – 1st Over 45 World Vets 25K in Tokyo (Time – 1hr 24min 45sec) (3rd overall)
ARTHUR’S PERSONAL BESTS:
PRE-VETERAN AGE (UNDER 40)
440 yards – 53sec
800 yards – 1min 57sec
Mile – 4min 21sec
10K track – 29min 53sec
20 mile road – 1hr 45min 46sec
25 mile track – 2hr 21min 06sec
VETERAN AGE (OVER 40)
3K track – 8min 35sec
5K track – 14min 57sec
10K track – 31min 09sec
10 miles track – 51min 02sec
10K road – 29min 53sec
25K road – 1hr 22min 39sec
20 miles road – 1hr 47min 22 sec
Marathon – 2hr 21min 38sec