THE residents of Glentrool and Bargrennan will be familiar now with the sight of a slightly bandy-legged man, often strapped with tape and supports, running past their houses and gardens.
With an unmistakable gait, always a quirky or cheeky remark and – when not in his trainers – an athlete who can often to be found sampling the local ales, this man is, of course, retired school teacher and local running legend John Plumridge.
And, on Sunday, he made club history for the Galloway Harriers by running his 100th half-marathon.
A keen runner since the mid-eighties, in less than three decades, John has clocked up 1311 miles of running in half-marathons alone. His marathon count is, quite frighteningly, 70.
Ignoring the countless 10ks and random distance runs he has completed, this makes 3145 miles of running. And that doesn’t count the training miles.
Running his first half-marathon in Dewsbury in 1984 as a result of a colleague pulling out, John has travelled far and wide to cover the 13.1-mile distance. He remembers the race as “the first run I did in actual running shoes, with the two marathons that preceded it having been completed in casual sports shoes”.
His favourite race was the White Peak run in Derbyshire, a run that starts north of Friden taking runners along the High Peak Trail, which includes a steep descent off the trail and down to the canal, which, as John says, “was fine in those days when I had knees”.
Injury is every sportsman’s enemy, but for runners, the unforgiving nature of pounding the tarmac certainly takes its toll.
With the number of miles John has put in over the years, he has had more injuries than most. Name an injury and chances are John has encountered it at some point.
Many would, regrettably, accept that the turning of the years and the miles on the clock would mean that one should retire gracefully from the sport.
Not John. He has had more comebacks than most have hot dinners and gone on to prove that there are more races in him yet. At Girvan on Sunday, he finished in an excellent 1:39 and claimed first male aged 60 or over.
Despite preferring marathon distance to anything else, even John has accepted that perhaps his marathon days are behind him.
However, don’t be surprised to see him turning up and overtaking you at half-marathons and 10k races yet.
This is a man to whom the lure of the open road, the forest trail or the hillside track is something that should be embraced in a pair of shorts and trainers and nothing else.
John has long been an active, entertaining and committed member of the Galloway Harriers, bringing experience, fun, festive quizzes and even humorous poetry to the local group.
With his tendency to make silly poses in team photos and positive embrace of a pint of beer as post-run rehydration, John is not only a talented pair of legs for the club but an integral part of its make-up.
The club members would like to congratulate John on this milestone, one of which the club and he should be very proud.