After finishing the Great North Run, a 102-year-old World War II veteran set a record for the oldest man to complete a half marathon.
With the aid of walking partner Gavin Iceton, Bill Cooksey, an RAF veteran who served from 1941 to 1951, completed the 13.1-mile journey from Newcastle to South Shields in five hours and 41 minutes.
The centenarian, who had previously cycled 1,000 miles for his 101st birthday and completed 10 miles a day for 10 days for his 100th birthday, took on the task to raise money for the County Durham and Darlington NHS Trust.
Before the event, MR Cooksey told ITV, “I’ve always wanted to do it. “I’ve lived up here for 30 years and have always taken walks, so when I heard about the Great North Run, I thought, ‘I’ll be able to do that definitely,’ given the additional motivation provided by the NHS.
Actually, I don’t believe I would have done it if the NHS hadn’t benefited from it.
A true inspiration. 💙
At 102 years old, Bill Cooksey has crossed the AJ Bell #GreatNorthRun! 👏
Huge congratulations, Bill! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/Ssu1cShr6e
— Great Run (@Great_Run) September 10, 2023
After a week of heat in the UK, the Great North run was battered by torrential rains.
Following flash flooding that impacted the Tyne and Wear Metro system and roads, some runners were forced to walk home.
But Mr. Cooksey was able to endure the circumstances, finish his challenge, and raise additional money for the NHS. According to him, “I am glad I have done it,” he told the Daily Mail. I wish we hadn’t had to endure all that rain, but we managed.
What a hero Bill Cooksey is, said Pat Chambers, the trust’s charity development manager.
In just over five hours and forty minutes, he broke the record by continuing to walk through a thunderstorm. We are really pleased with him.