Local marathon runner Owen James, known to family, friends and colleagues as OJ, has beaten the elusive 3 hour barrier in the recent Berlin Marathon with a personal best time of 2 hours 59 minutes and 13 seconds. He came 1030th out of just over 35,000 finishers, a top 3% place, putting him in the category of elite runners.
Owen, aged 31, is a former Sheffield United footballer and now works as a personal trainer and sports massage therapist with his own business ALLforYOU (www.all-for-you.co.uk). Two days each week he also trains people as a leading member of the leisure team at Hoar Cross Hall Health Spa in Staffordshire.
Berlin was the 5th Marathon run in 3 years for OJ whose ambition throughout has been to complete the event in under 3 hours. Runs in New York and London in 2006, 2007 and 2008 were followed by a personal best 3 hours 4 minutes in this Aprils Paris Marathon.
Owen says, ‘By the time I ran in Paris I pretty much had my training down to a fine art. 18 weeks of preparation, 6 days a week, with 2 long runs every weekend really paid off but something was just holding me back that little bit’.
He then realised that at 6foot 3inches tall and weighing 14 stones, hardly the normal for an elite marathon runner, a stricter diet alongside an already demanding training schedule was going to be essential if the 3 hour barrier was to be breached. A steady weight loss of around one pound each week alongside the daily runs meant that he could maintain his strength and stamina whilst at the same time giving himself that slight edge in terms of speed and endurance for the notoriously challenging distance.
As well as having a time target Owen also raises funds through sponsorship for a variety of charities. This time he raised around £750 for the MacMillan Cancer Charity. He says, ‘Not only did I have the amazing experience of fulfilling a lifelong ambition I was also delighted to be able to raise some funds for this worthwhile cause’.
‘It’s a privilege to be able to run, unfortunately I have recently lost 2 friends and I would like to dedicate finally breaking the 3 hour barrier to them.’
OJ now plans to run the Boston and Chicago marathons in the USA in 2010 which are the final 2 of the 5 world marathon majors (London, Berlin New York, Boston and Chicago) but will concentrate more on simply enjoying the atmosphere and experience of taking part in the events rather than trying to beat his impressive personal best time.