Llanelli runner set to complete 105th marathon in London

Gary is excited to see the progress runners at his club have made. Credit: Tenovus

Running one marathon is enough of a challenge but for one Llanelli runner it is far from his first.

When he crosses the finish line of the London Marathon on Sunday, Gary Howells, 43, will have completed his 105th race.

He will be completing the gruelling distance to raise money for Welsh cancer charity Tenovus after losing a friend and fellow athlete from his home town to the disease last year.

Gary will not be competing alone, though, with a dozen others from the running group he set up joining him to fundraise for the same cause.

Gary plans to run "some of the toughest marathons in the world" after Sunday's race. Credit: Tenovus

The 43-year-old initially got into running in 2012 after leaving the military as he settled back into civilian life, becoming an electrical engineer working on wind turbines.

It was six years later, running the infamous Marathon De Sables - an exhausting seven marathons in six days across the Sahara Desert - that Gary had a "light bulb" moment, deciding to set up the Peak Performance Wales running club and make the sport his full-time job.

Gary explained: "It was a light bulb moment out there, and I just wanted to turn my ability to run marathons into a career.

"So, I set up a club and a running group. You run a marathon once, and it changes your mindset. You run a marathon more than once, and it changes your life."

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The club is going strong, with dozens of runners in Llanelli completing anything from a 5k to ultra-marathons.

The club is not just a job for Gary though. He said: "Running gives me life challenges, it gives me goals, it keeps me fit, and it keeps me mentally stimulated.

“It's given me a job, obviously, but it’s also given me a running family."

Talking about the satisfaction he takes from his work, he said: "I love the satisfaction of seeing these guys, some of whom are 60 years of age, running London with me.

"It’s part of what they pay me for and why they turn up every week. It’s an experience we’ll be talking about for years to come.”

The group decided to raise money for Tenovus following the death of Llanelli local and avid runner Wayne Evans, who lost his life to pancreatic cancer last year.

Gary said: "Two other people in the club got skin cancer last year, so running it for Tenovus Cancer Care means a lot. We’ve raised £25K so far, but we are hoping for so much more on the day.”

He added that when the runners inevitably hit 'the wall' that comes with running such a long way, Wayne will be their inspiration to keep going.

"We are ready to go and when it gets tough at the end, we’ll be thinking of Wayne and what he went through for 12 months with his chemo and treatment," Gary explained.

He added: "We’ll have 6 miles to go, and he’ll be our inspiration. His memory will pull us along. It’s going to be magical."

Gary will add to his already impressive array of medals when he crosses the finish line on Sunday. Credit: Tenovus

The former military man said the group is "bouncing" ahead of the race on Sunday, with everyone "feeling fit and healthy."

The London Marathon will not be the last challenge Gary sets himself, with his sights firmly fixed on even tougher races in the future.

He said: “I want to run marathons in Kenya, Ethiopia and America, not just Boston and Chicago and New York.

"I want to run those raw marathons where you’re climbing 10,000 feet of elevation over 26 miles, some of the toughest marathons in the world.”