AN ILMINSTER man who decided to take up running after passing the age of 50 has conquered the world-famous London Marathon, and raised £3,500 in the process.

Chris Russell had never been a runner in his life, and before April 28 had only completed the Yeovil Half Marathon as a practice for the main event.

While Chris wasn’t the only person in their 50s to take on the capital challenge, his wife Linda said it was especially impressive as he has never been sporty.

The massive fundraising feat was also particularly important to Chris as it was a cause close to his heart.

Linda Russell said: “He has been raising money for the Round Table Children’s Wish.

“He was an Ilminster Round Tabler for many years, until he became too old, and now he is a member of the Yeovil 41 club which is the follow on from Round Table.

“The charity has granted wishes - bespoke wishes - to children with life threatening illnesses.

“This is particularly special for us as our nephew suffered with a life threatening illness.

“He has raised £3,500, and is even touching on £4,000.”

Chris only started running a couple of years ago.

He completed the Yeovil Half Marathon last year, and then ran it again in 2019 as a warm up for the Virgin London Marathon.

Chris said: “I watched my son, Tom, run the 2017 Yeovil Half Marathon and thought ‘I would like to do that’.

“But I have never been a runner, so I started training and I managed to do the 2018 Yeovil Half.

“Since then I haven’t stopped running and set myself the massive personal challenge of running the 2019 London Marathon.

“I have never been particularly sporty, and the Yeovil Half was the furthest distance I had run in my life.

“To make this more than a huge achievement for myself, I have decided to run for a charity that is close to my family’s heart – The Round Table Children’s Wish, which is a registered charity dedicated to granting handcrafted wishes for children and young people with life threatening illnesses.”

More than 444,000 applied in the ballot for a place, with 56,398 successful applicants.

This was the 39th year of the London marathon, and the total raised for charities since 1981 passed £1billion.

“It was brilliant,” Chris added.

“It was an amazing experience to be honest. It went better than I thought it would.

“On the day it was great and the two pacers I ran with were excellent.

“If I can do it anyone can do it, especially as you get older and start to think about your health.”

Chris completed the run in a time of 4 hours, 56 minutes and 22 seconds.