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Keeping pace with one another – Bill and Pauline have run over 1000 marathons between them

Husband and wife, Bill and Pauline, ran the London Marathon in aid of Dementia UK this year and raised £2000. Bill has run a total of 515 marathons and Pauline has run a total of 516 (not that they’re competing, of course!)

Husband and wife standing next to Dementia UK sign, wearing medals and smiling

How did you both get into running and what does it mean to you?

Bill: ‘A marathon is a race where everyone starts as an equal and everyone finishes as a winner’. These are the words which have carried me through all of the marathons I’ve run. When you’re running, it helps you think clearly and resolve problems – I learnt this back in my very first marathon, the Great North Run, in ’93.

Pauline: The whole running bug started when I saw a flyer for a local run back in 1986. I had no idea how far I could run – and wanted to find out! Bill thought I’d get it out of my system and that would be that. I never thought that Bill and I would still be running after all these years.

Some of my favourite memories from my marathons include the runs I’ve done in Utah, where the views and landscapes were fantastic. But you just can’t beat London for the crowd; the atmosphere is electric. Everyone is cheering each other on, and then to see the Dementia UK cheer point, with everyone enjoying themselves there as well, was the icing on the cake.

Why did you decide to fundraise for Dementia UK?

Bill: There are more and more people living with dementia. The wife of one of our running friends died with Alzheimer’s. We’ve all experienced it within our own lives in some way or another and it’s a charity which really resonates with us. There was so much camaraderie at the marathon and we met quite a few Dementia UK runners at the start line. When you speak to people you can really tell that they’re doing what they’re doing from the heart. They all have good reasons to do it: mums, dads, brothers and sisters. It’s a way of giving something back.

What would your advice be to someone who has never run a marathon before?

Pauline: When people come up to us and say that it’s their first marathon, we say: ‘you just have to enjoy it’. When you’re on the start line, you have no idea what to expect. It’s like any experience: you can’t go back to replicate it so make the first one count. No matter what stage of your running journey you’re at, Dementia UK will help to calm your nerves. And it’s always great to remember that you’ll have a free sports massage at the post-race celebration when you finish’.

Bill: People think we know everything because we’re on our 500th marathon or so but actually we don’t. All we know is when to slow down, which comes quite naturally to us at our age!

How did the London Marathon go, and what did it feel like crossing the finishing line?

Bill: I finished the Marathon in 4 hours 16 minutes and 44 seconds. It’s not really about the time though – it’s about getting through what is an arduous journey, with people from all walks of life. No matter what it is you’re going through, the crowd and your fellow runners can give you the strength to reach the finish line.

Pauline: I finished the marathon in 5 hours 50 minutes and 58 seconds. I thoroughly enjoyed it. There was one band playing who I really liked and I thought that it would be good to stop and dance, but I was aware that I needed to finish the race! I can definitely say that a McDonald’s ice cream is the ultimate treat after a long period of running.