Jane Holt reviews The Man Inside The Machine by Helen Summer – the approved biography of Steve Edwards, one of the world’s most successful multi-marathoners. Steve has completed 700 marathons with an average finishing time of 3 hours 16 mins…
Many would say the man is a machine having now completed 750 official marathons (16 October) with an average finish time of 3 hours 17 mins. A view I share after reading this fascinating biography of a man who is single-minded about marathon running (and everything else that he does).
When Steve Edwards sets his mind to something, he gives it 100%. His ‘can do’ attitude and determination allied to a razor-sharp focus has propelled him to the forefront of marathon running.
This ‘ordinary bloke’ as he calls himself is anything but ordinary in his achievements. He was born with a deformed left hand, and bullied throughout his childhood as a result, but didn’t let the perpetrators or the disability prevent him from becoming one of the best multi-marathon runners in the world. He is the youngest person to have run 100 marathons and 200 marathons; the most marathons in a year (87); and the fastest ten marathons in ten days. He has also broken the world record for completing 500 marathons in sub 3:30.
Known as the ‘Godfather’ of marathon running, Steve Edwards is said to be a modest, friendly man, always willing to pass on knowledge and help others. He is the first to acknowledge the support and understanding of his wife Teresa and is grateful for the values of hard work, self-discipline and loyalty instilled in him by his parents.
His first marathon was the inaugural Coventry Marathon in 1981, which he vowed would be his last, having run it in football boots and without proper training. However, he changed his mind and entered the Coventry Marathon again, a little bit older and wiser. He had a very good level of fitness due to weight training, martial arts and cycling/walking everywhere and continues to cross-train to this very day. He soon progressed from this, travelling around the UK and overseas to run marathons, including back to backs, doubles and ultras in order to smash his targets.
What you notice in the book is his desire to race every marathon not just complete it. It is a ‘go hard or go home’ mentality in which he runs it at a fast pace from start to the finish, irrespective of the weather conditions, how he is feeling or if he has an injury concern. He also has a congenital blood disorder which affects his energy levels. This again, makes his marathon milestones even more of an accomplishment.
What it is that drives Steve Edwards to keep on running? He gives several answers - health and fitness aspects, camaraderie, visiting new places and fundraising for charity. Not to mention the endorphin rush afterwards. And as a runner myself, I fully understand this.
But most of all it is the challenge – the desire to push his body beyond its limits to discover what it is capable of. He believes that we are all capable of much more than we think.
His next goal is to complete 1,000 marathons after which he will retire. We shall see…