500 goal for Albrighton marathon man Nick

Running one marathon is enough of an achievement for most people, but for Nick Cockburn it wasn’t quite enough.

Nick Cockburn from Albrighton has successfully completed 350 marathons
Nick Cockburn from Albrighton has successfully completed 350 marathons

While taking part in his first 26.2-mile race in Barcelona, he set himself the epic challenge of running another 99.

But Nick didn’t stop there. Over the past 10 years, the 39-year-old from Albrighton has crossed the finish line in 350 marathons, ranging from races through city centre streets to trail runs in the open countryside.

Nick first caught the running bug while recovering from an ankle injury in 2006.

“I had temporary pins put in and I was on crutches for a while. I put on a bit of weight so I started running to try and lose it,” he tells Weekend.

After building up his fitness, he completed a couple of half-marathons before entering his first 26.2-mile event in Barcelona in 2012.

“I quite enjoyed it. It was 27C so the heat made it tough but I went there with a few friends and we got to see all the sights,” says Nick.

At the event his interest was piqued when he noticed the 100 Marathon Club vest being worn by a fellow participant.

“I asked him what it was for and he said it was because he had run 100 marathons. I thought, I’m going to do that too.”

The club is open to anyone who has completed 100 qualifying marathons while people who have run 50 marathons qualify for associate membership, but can only claim their club vest and medal once they hit the magic century.

For Nick, that time came when he took part in the Broadmeadows Runs’ December Double event in Stratford-Upon-Avon in November 2015.

“It finished at the Mary Arden pub, which was quite handy. I celebrated with some friends and a few beers afterwards. It was quite a low-key event and the views were great,” he says.

Despite successfully completing his initial challenge, Nick wasn’t finished yet. “I was really enjoying the marathons so I kept going.”

His 200th marathon was much closer to home, in Wolverhampton in September 2017.

“I always loved the Wolverhampton Marathon. They used to shut the roads for the half-marathon runners who set off first and then open them up so we were running past the cars. It’s a shame they stopped having the marathon, it would be nice if they could bring it back,” says Nick, who works as a fire sprinkler service engineer.

The 300th milestone was the Groundhog Marathon in Telford in March 2020 where the 26.2 miles consisted of 105 laps of the running track.

And last Saturday Nick completed marathon number 350 at the Northampton Cakeathon where runners were able to enjoy sweet treats along the route of the course which followed bike paths and grassy trails along the River Nene.

Despite running consecutive marathons, he says he doesn’t tend to follow a strict training regime.

“I don’t do much training if I’m honest. If I’m doing a marathon every week or every couple weeks then I might go for a five-mile run in between. Since my injury, I’ve had a few problems with my ankle so I try to keep off it,” explains Nick.

“I don’t take it too seriously. I don’t have a specific diet and I’ll have a few pints the night before. I like the social side of marathons – chatting and running with my friends,” he adds.

Over the years, Nick has competed in ultra marathons – races that are longer than the standard 26.2 miles – and multiple day events including the Enigma Quadzilla, four marathons in four days, which he’s competed six times.

He has also acted as a pacer for races such as this year’s Manchester Marathon.

And in 2013, along with three friends, he ran 62.5 miles from Richmond Park in London to Brighton Racecourse in under 15 hours, raising more than £6,500 for charity.

Although every race is different, Nick says often the most taxing part is getting to the start line.

“Sometimes the most challenging thing is getting to the marathon. It can be hard when you’ve been at work all week and you’re tired, but once you’re there, you’re ready for it.”

So, now he’s completed 350 marathons, what’s next? Dates in the diary already include the Belfast Marathon on May 1 and Worcester on May 22. While next March he hopes to travel to Rome and run past the Colosseum.

And in the future he would also love to take part in New York and Philadelphia’s famous events. “The Philadelphia marathon finishes at the bottom of the ‘Rocky’ steps so you can run up them if you still have the energy,” explains Nick. “It would be good to get to 500 but that’s a few years away.”

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