Inspiring Individuals: Roger Biggs, the man who has run 800 marathons
A while ago I discovered the phenomenon of “marathon tourism” through my childhood friend Katherine and I wrote about it in this blog post. It prompted another friend of mine, Steve Biggs (the blogger behind Biggsy Travels) to casually mention that his father had run hundreds upon hundreds of marathons all over the world, making him therefore the definitive marathon tourist. In actual fact, Roger Biggs has just run his 800th marathon. Yes you read that correctly: 800 marathons, totalling 20,960 miles. And that’s not to mention other races and half marathons. In 1996 he ran his 100th 10-mile race on Good Friday, then 2 days later he ran ran his 100th half marathon in Guernsey, then 1 week later he ran his 100th marathon in the 100th Boston marathon!
The fact that anyone in the world is humanly capable of that deserves recognition, and I am overwhelmingly impressed with such a mind-blowing achievement. My running achievements are restricted to the 10K Run to the Beat in London that I completed last September – measly in comparison! However running a marathon abroad is one of my travel goals before I turn 30, so I am currently training for a half marathon in Hampton Court in February. I know a marathon might be a New Year’s Resolution for many people, so I instantly knew that Roger Biggs would be a fascinating person to interview – I hope you’re as inspired by him to reach your goals as I am!
- First marathon: Stevenage, UK on 9th September 1984
- Total no. of marathons: 800, with the 800th completed on 21st December 2014 in Pisa, Italy
- Fastest marathon: 3hrs 2mins 41 secs in St Albans, UK, on 2nd December 1990
- Highest marathon: Everest at 17,000ft (I am beyond stunned – who knew you could do a marathon on Mount Everest?)
- Favourite marathon: Tokyo, Japan
- Toughest marathon: Everest (I don’t doubt it!)
- Best organised marathon: London, UK
- Total no. of countries: 49
- Most marathons run in a foreign country: 86 in the US (Roger was also the first Brit to run a marathon in all 50 US states)
- No. of UK counties: Roger is the UK leader having running marathons in 86 different counties in the UK & Ireland
And if all that weren’t enough, in 1995 Roger also ran marathons on all 7 continents. What a hero. I wanted to ask Roger how on earth he has managed to maintain this commitment over a 30 year period and find out what motivates him, hoping that he’ll pass on some of his strong resolve and self-control onto us.
1. I am yet to run a marathon and as I love to travel, when I do run a marathon I’d like it to be abroad. Which would you recommend to me and why? There are just so many marathons around the world. From races with over 30,000 runners such as New York, London and Berlin, to smaller races with fewer than 10 runners in Mayo (in Yukon, Canada), Antarctica, Everest, Tokyo, New Zealand – they are everywhere.
2. At the London marathon last year I saw lots of runners in fancy dress! Have you ever run in fancy dress? Yes, 3 or 4 times.
3. Has anything ever gone badly wrong during a marathon? I’ve finished every marathon I have started, but there have been a few times I didn’t think I was going to make it!
4. You’ve run 800 marathons in total (a phenomenal amount) over 30 years, and are one of very few to have managed that! When will enough be enough? Do you ever consider stopping? Probably if I ever get to 1,000. I have an Achilles injury that won’t go away, which may yet stop me.
5. Where is your next marathon? The next one entered is in the Bahamas, it will be my 50th country! I’m collecting UK and Ireland counties and I’ve done 86 of the 109 we recognise. No one else has yet reached 75! An Irish friend has found a race for me the week before the Bahamas, so that might be the next.
6. I recently wrote a blog post on so-called ‘marathon tourists’ who use their running hobby to see the world. Would you consider yourself to be a marathon tourist? Yes, dead on! One of our Marathon Club Members has actually just written a book called ‘Marathon Tourism‘.