Man who ran with broken arm hopes to finish 39th London Marathon ‘in one piece’

Chris Finill holds the world record for the most consecutive sub three-hour marathons in the same event, with 33 London Marathons from 1981-2013.

Chris Finill who has completed 38 London Marathons since it was launched in 1981
Chris Finill who has completed 38 London Marathons since it was launched in 1981

A man who has run every single London Marathon hopes to finish “in one piece” on Sunday after breaking his arm in a fall during last year’s race.

Chris Finill fell around three-and-a-half miles into the 26.2-mile course but managed to complete the remainder of the race with his right arm in a sling.

“If you have done 37 London Marathons you are not just going to walk away from the 38th,” he told the Press Association.

Mr Finill said he was clipped from behind by another runner and “crashed to the ground”, breaking his arm as he tried to stop himself from falling.

“I put it in a sling at four miles. It wasn’t too painful,” he said. “They gave me a couple of paracetamol.

“It was deeply frustrating.

Chris Finill at the finish of the 2018 race
Chris Finill at the finish of the 2018 race (fFamily handout/PA)

“I have now done 38, 36 of them sub three hours. I was hoping to get sub three but ended up with 3:54.

“It was just a case of getting round.

“The priority is to get round and finish. I ticked that box but I was very disappointed with my time.”

Mr Finill, 60, from Cranleigh in Surrey, holds the world record for the most number of consecutive sub three-hour marathons, with 33 in London from 1981-2013 before a hamstring injury slowed him down.

After the fall he was taken to St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, and discovered he had broken his humerus – the long bone in the upper arm – in four places.

He said he was relieved the bone was not sticking out or he “would have had a fight on my hands” to be allowed to finish the race.

2016 Virgin Money London Marathon
Chris Finill at the finish line during the 2016 Virgin Money London Marathon (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Mr Finill said he would be very pleased run sub three hours at the Virgin Money London Marathon this year.

“I’m hoping to run reasonably well on Sunday.

“Just getting round in one piece will feel good.”

He added: “The races you remember are the ones which went well, breaking two-and-a-half hours in 1983 with two hours, 29 minutes and 59 seconds.

“In 1985 my personal best of two hours, 28 minutes and 27 seconds.

“2017 was a race where I was hoping to get under three hours. The build-up to the race had been really good. I knew I was going to break three hours by two to three minutes.

“My daughter was by the side of the road and I extravagantly went and gave her a hug.”

Virgin Money London Marathon
With his daughter Jo and son Tom after the 2017 run (Family handout/PA)

Mr Finill’s wife Julia, sons Tom, 30, and Nick, 25, and daughter Jo, 27, have all run the London Marathon.

“I never pushed them into running. They did the marathon because it was something to say they had done.”

He runs the five miles to and from his job as bursar at the Duke of Kent School in Ewhurst, and said he enjoyed running during his own schooldays at Harrow County Grammar School where “I was one of the slower runners of a very good team”.

“I really started through being born in Whitmore Road, Harrow, in north London. This was lived in at one stage by Roger Bannister,” he said.

As a young boy Mr Finill ran round the garden and counted laps.

Virgin Money London Marathon
The London Marathon Ever-Presents in 2018

He even tried to get a new personal best when his mother sent him to the newsagents for her cigarettes.

“I never thought of it as a de-stresser as an eight or nine-year-old.

“Like a lot of people, I run to de-stress myself so once I’m running I’m OK.

“If I don’t go for a run for two or three days, I feel like I need to be out in the open air.”

Mr Finill, whose other achievements include running across America from California to New York in 2011, keeps his London Marathon medal collection in a shoebox.

“The 1981 medal is quite modest, about the size of a 2p piece,” he said.

Virgin Money London Marathon
The medal for the first London Marathon in 1981 with a treasured pair of trainers which he bought from Ron Hill who later signed them (Beverley Rouse/PA)

After the 15th London Marathon, those who had run every year were named the Ever Presents and were given a specially made medal.

His other treasured possessions include a pair of Nike trainers which Mr Finill, then 17, bought in 1976 from famous British long distance runner Ron Hill at his shop in Manchester.

“When I bought these shoes I was with my father, who asked Ron Hill if he did any running at all. I nearly died on the spot with embarrassment.”

Years later he asked Hill to autograph them at a marathon exhibition and “he was kind enough to sign”.

He counts Hill and David Bedford among his running heroes, adding that Paula Radcliffe is an “outstanding runner”.

Virgin Money London Marathon
Chris with Paula Radcliffe prior to the 2015 London Marathon (Family handout/PA)

“She’s got the mental toughness and attitude which all runners admire.”

Mr Finill helps to prepare less experienced runners tackling the marathon for Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice in nearby Farnham with a presentation about conquering the challenge ahead.

“It’s satisfying to be a small part of that process and it’s money for a fantastic cause,” he said.

He said the London Marathon is special because he is from London, adding: “It’s a special event to people in all sorts of different ways. For some people it’s to honour someone who’s died or raise money for charity. For club athletes it’s a good competition. For world-class athletes it’s a chance to win serious money and break records.

“Everyone wants to finish.”

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