Hotelier and veteran runner training for 30th marathon

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An Eastbourne hotelier is currently in training to run in this year’s London Marathon.

Neil Kirby, Langham Hotel owner, will take on his 30th marathon in the capital on April 24.

He has also run 180 half marathons and always takes part in the annual Eastbourne Half Marathon.

Over the years Neil has raised over £300,000 for various charities and at the London Marathon has a target of £3,000 to raise for Paget’s Disease, a painful bone condition.

Neil Kirby was encouraged to start running by Sir Rocco Forte some 35 years ago while working at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, then owned by Trusthouse Forte.

He said, “In 1981 I competed in the Manchester Piccadilly Marathon, for which Rocco had sponsored me, and I was in training to run my first London Marathon in 1982 when Rocco decided that he would like to join me in it. We became running partners and went on to run eight marathons together, seven in London and one in New York.”

Neil will be joined in this year’s London Marathon by his hotel manager, Simon Brown, who will be running in his first marathon. The veteran runner has passed on some advice to help Simon round the long course in London.

Neil said, “I will do it in around four hours, but I’ve told Simon to go at his own pace and not to peak too soon, as he is going to find the last six miles particularly gruelling.

“My best ever time was 2 hours, 53 minutes and 1 second, but I was much younger then.”

Now in his 49th year in the hospitality industry, and with his 64th birthday on the horizon, 2016 will be Neil’s last full marathon, although he aims to continue running in half marathons and is even thinking of attempting to break the 100 metre record for a veteran.

He said, “Usain Bolt can do it in 9.58 seconds, but the record for someone aged 65 is around 12.77 seconds. I’m happy to try and beat that!”

The London marathon is one of the top six international marathons run over the distance of 26 miles and 385 yards.

The large, celebratory sporting festival has raised over £450 million for charity since 1981.

The event holds the Guinness World Record as the largest annual fund raising event in the world, with the 2009 participants raising over £47.2 million for charity.

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