A Cheshire runner will set a new record for the most London Marathons completed by a woman when she collects her 26th medal in April.
Louise Blizzard, 44, from Warrington, has missed just one race since her first in 1994 when she finished in three hours, 32 minutes and one second at the age of 18.
The only year she couldn’t compete in the annual event was in 2010 when she was heavily pregnant. Her son Alfie was born the next day and he will celebrate his 10th birthday by watching his mother run this year.
“He’s very excited,” she told the PA news agency. “He’s good at sport. He does a lot of running himself.
“He’s a great little runner. He’s got so much speed. I don’t really have speed now.”
Blizzard has broken three hours at the London Marathon six times, including a personal best of two hours, 54 minutes and 58 seconds in 2004.
“I’m excited, honoured because to be getting to the start line is an achievement,” she said of this year’s race.
“You just don’t know what is going to happen to you.
“I think I’ll be proud with it being number 26.”
When the London Marathon started in 1981, fewer than 300 of the 6,300 finishers were women and, while another female runner is thought to have also run 25 times, Blizzard will set a new record when she crosses the finish line this year.
Of all the races, the 2018 event sticks in her mind the most: “That was the heatwave year. It wasn’t a race, you just had to focus on getting to the end.
“Everyone was helping each other, sharing water. On that day it was just too hot, you have to be sensible.”
Blizzard still finished in three hours, 28 minutes and five seconds.
“There have been a few where I felt great at 16 miles and by 18…,” she added.
“When I get to 23 miles, I think ‘I have just got Parkrun to do’.”
Blizzard recently ran her 200th Warrington Parkrun, adding: “It‘a like a time trial for me.”
She said running the 5km (three miles) of a Parkrun is very different from tackling the 42km (26.2 miles) of the London Marathon.
“You learn different coping mechanisms. It’s staying power all the time,” she told the PA news agency.
“You meet friends all the way round. You just help each other.
“Everyone is going through their own experiences. There’s a lovely sense of friendship.”
She praised the crowds and said the race is also special as on marathon day in 2008 her husband Gareth Blizzard, 46, a graphic designer, proposed on Tower Bridge. The couple married in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire, in 2009.
Blizzard, a compliance officer for Crest Medical, started running aged 13.
“I was actually a gymnast but had an accident on the bars and broke my arm.
“I can’t move my hand so I couldn’t go back to gymnastics.”
Two years later, she started running and took part in the New York Marathon to celebrate her 18th birthday.
She has also run marathons in Berlin, Lanzarote, Snowdonia, Edinburgh and the Netherlands and runs every day, clocking up around 50 miles a week.
“When it’s deep dark winter it’s really hard,” she said, echoing the experiences of many others training for the 40th London Marathon in April.
“It helps getting out with friends. It’s not so lonely.”