AN 80-YEAR-OLD Chepstow running club member is the oldest athlete taking part in Newport’s first marathon.

Sydney Wheeler has been a member of the Chepstow Harriers Running Club for 30 years and will be partaking in his 210th marathon on Sunday.

The pensioner originally from the Forest of Dean, but now living in Chepstow said: “I was inspired to start running marathons after the first London marathon in 1981.

“I watched the winners arm in arm crossing the finish line and the sportsmanship really inspired me. I started running from then.”

Mr Wheeler says as he trains every other day, but limits to running 1000 miles a year as he needs more time to recover due to his age.

“I am better at running longer distances than I am shorter distances. So that’s why I started doing marathons,” said Mr Wheeler.

The pensioner says he may be in last position on Sunday, but he doesn’t mind and says he is lucky he doesn’t suffer any injuries.

Mr Wheeler said: “My only worry is I will hold everyone up as they are all volunteers and they are all waiting for me.”

The athlete's top tips for marathon runners on Sunday is to pace themselves and not begin the race too fast.

“Many start off going too fast and getting tired. I don’t mean to blow my own trumpet, but I may not be the fastest but I am good at pacing,” said Mr Wheeler.

However, the retiree said he has not passed on his running bug to his wife.

He said: “My wife is a non-runner and only comes with me if it is an interesting place to go.

“I take her occasionally if it’s a nice town and she can go do something else while I am running.”

Mr Wheeler hopes if he recovers in time he will run the Simplyhealth Great Birmingham 10K the following week on Sunday, May 6.

Around 10,000 runners will be taking part in the ABP Newport Wales Marathon on Sunday. It’s expected 30,000 spectators will also come to watch and support racers.