Steve Edwards vowed he would never run another marathon after completing his first in October 1981. Never did he dream that he would complete an incredible personal challenge 29 years later, becoming the fastest man ever to run 500 marathons, with an average finish time of sub 3hrs 30min.
On April 11 2010, Steve crossed the finish line of the Connemara Marathon in Ireland to not only complete his challenge 2 years earlier than expected but did so with a staggering final average finish time of just 3hrs 18min 18sec. Considering the physical demands of trying to stay fit and healthy for such a long period of time, Steve's achievement really is an astonishing feat of endurance and dedication.
Speaking about his fantastic achievement, Steve told scottishrunningguide.com, "It's very hard to sum up in words how I feel right now, I have very mixed emotions of both elation and deflation. When I consider all the places I've visited, the friends I've made, the experiences and memories from the many trips all over the UK, Europe and beyond and of course the money I've raised for various charities, its been more than just an athletic achievement, its been an incredible journey.
This amazing challenge has seen Steve run in 26 countries, running an average of one marathon every 16 days for the past 22 years. He has completed races all over the UK, including 25 in Scotland, from the 5 times he completed the Moray marathon, to Benbecula and others in the outer Hebrides and several times completing the Edinburgh, Inverclyde Greenock and Loch Ness marathons.
Steve started running in 1981 at the age of 18 when he completed his first ever race, the Coventry Marathon. Although finishing in a respectable 3hrs 39min, his body felt the searing physical pain from a race of such stamina and endurance. After a time of concentrating on smaller distances, Steve worked back up to marathon distance, and set himself a series of different and difficult challenges.
The first of these challenges was to become the youngest athlete to run 100 official marathon races, which he achieved in 1990 at the age of 28. His second aim was to run the most official marathon races in a one-year period, which he achieved in 1992 with a total of 87 marathons averaging just 3hrs 14min for each one. Then the third and arguably the toughest, to run 500 official marathon races averaging sub 3:30 by his 50th birthday in 2012.
Steve commented, "I have learnt a lot about myself as a human being, not only in terms of my character and make up but in a physical sense to realise what an amazing machine the human body actually is."
Steve completed his challenge two years early and has now set himself a new challenge, to take him up to his 50th birthday in 2012. Out of the 500 marathons he has run over the past 29 years, 437 have had a time of sub 3:30s. Steve now wants to run 500 marathons under this time by his birthday. Since completing his last challenge, he has already run Brighton and London in a sub 3:30s time, so he has 61 to complete before his target date in 2012.
Steve has been shown some great support from everyone he has come across during his challenge, none more so than his wife, Teresa. Speaking of this support, Steve said, "I think no matter who you are and what you've achieved, your success is just as much attributable to the people around you as it is to yourself. I would like to sincerely thank my club colleagues at Bourton Roadrunners and all the friends I've made through running over the year. I'd also like to thank my sponsors, Mannatech and Team Nutrition, to the physios and sports therapists who have kept me on the road, especially since I've got older! Of course, the biggest thank you has to go to Teresa my wife, the other half of Team Edwards, I've said it before but its nevertheless as true as ever, without her love and support, I would never have achieved any of this."
Visitors to scottishrunningguide.com can donate to the charities that Steve supports by visiting his justgiving page. Currently, he is raising money for the Brathay Trust, as he will be completing the Brathay 10 in 10 for the fourth time this month. Steve's course record was beaten last year, so he will be hoping to regain the title, as well as completing each marathon in the sub 3:30s time, to keep him on track to reach his latest goal.