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Cheltenham Harriers’ James Bingham ‘looking forward' to taking on delayed London Marathon challenge in October

All Areas > Sport > Running

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Friday, 27th March 2020, 09:00

James Bingham James Bingham


It’s probably a good job that James Bingham will have a number of running mates with him when he heads to London for the city’s delayed showpiece marathon in October.

That’s because, whisper it quietly, just over a month ago Bingham didn’t make it to his intended destination in the capital after leaving his home in Cheltenham.

“I caught the 6am train for a meeting in London,” said Bingham, who works for a local IT firm. “But I got distracted helping an elderly lady off the platform during my change at Bristol… then watched my luggage disappear off into the sunset to Paignton!

“GWR were great, but then began my treasure hunt via Cross Rail to track down my luggage.”

Fortunately, Bingham has a very good boss – the meeting was rescheduled – and it’s also fair to say that he’ll be more alert when the London Marathon comes around on Sunday 4th October, a race that gets under way a little later than 6am!

His three running mates on that big day will be Alex Lee, Dave Aubrey and Rich Dare, who, like 42-year-old Bingham, are members of Cheltenham Harriers.

Bingham was something of a latecomer to the sport – he didn’t join the Harriers until 2012 and the London Marathon will be only the second time he has run over 26.2 miles.
“The first time was in Snowdon – talk about picking an easy one! – in 2011, I wasn’t really a runner back then,” he said.

“I’m hoping to improve on that performance, I ran 3.05 or 3.06, I’m hoping to knock half-an-hour off that.”

And there’s every likelihood that he will because since joining the Harriers his running career has certainly taken off.

“They’re such an excellent club,” said Bingham. “It’s a close, tight-knit group of like-minded people. We’re very individual but there’s a very strong team camaraderie.”

Bingham, who was born and raised in Northamptonshire, wasn’t particularly focused on any given sport before he got bitten by the running bug, so how did he get into running?

“I entered a fun run for charity in 2008 or 2009,” he explained. “It was the Mud Runner at Eastnor Castle, it was your classic muddy charity run but I really enjoyed it.

“I found out that I was quite competitive and I wanted to get better, that was the trigger.”

And he was soon making up for lost time.

“I finished around 150th in that first race,” he said, “but over the course of the next two years I became their series champion, I won every race.”

And Bingham, who discovered only a couple of years ago that his late grandfather was a good cross-country runner back in the day, still likes running in the mud today.

“I would say cross-country is my strength,” he said. “I find running in the mud the most interesting and I recently got a bronze in the Gloucestershire County Championships.

“I’ve had better results off-road than on-road, I’d say I’m probably most competitive over 10K.”

The stats would back that up because he placed first in his age category at the Gloucester South West Inter-Counties 10km championships and he has clocked up some seriously good times. He’s also recently been crowned the Gloucester Cross Country League M40 champion for the four-race series.
His personal best – at the time of writing – for 10K is 32.22, a time he recorded in January, and he’s got some other pretty impressive numbers too.

“My PB for the half-marathon is 70.22 and 15.56 for the 5K,” Bingham said.

That half marathon time was set in the recent race in Bath and like his other PBs is very impressive but running a marathon is a step up in distance so what persuaded Bingham to take on the big challenge that is the London Marathon?

“I was motivated to do it because I know what a privilege it is to take part in the race,” he said. “So many people want to do it and can’t get in.

“I know I don’t have too many years left although my times are still improving even though science says they should have been declining over the past five years!”

And Bingham is certainly ready to take on the London Marathon.

“As a distance it does suit my running characteristics,” he said. “I’m not the most gifted technically but I’m very good in the hurt locker.

“I can run at a pain threshold and I can hold it there, I’ve got good mental strength.

“I don’t look like a runner – I’m 5ft 8in and 75 kilos which is much heavier than most runners of my height and pace.”

Bingham is looking forward to running with his Harriers team-mates in the capital and said that Dave Aubrey, Rich Dare and himself were all “within a minute of each other, somewhere around 2.36 to 2.39”, adding, “We’ll probably run the first 20 miles together but I don’t think we’ll all cross the line together, but we’ll be within a minute of each other.

“We’re very competitive but very supportive.”

And Bingham’s wife Ali is also very supportive of his running.

She’s not a runner herself but Bingham said: “She’s been fantastic, she has to put up with me getting up at 7am most Saturdays and Sundays to get out and train. I couldn’t do this without her. She’s incredible.
“I train for 10 hours every week and I must spend another 10 hours sorting out nutrition, stretching, driving to races. She’s hugely supportive.”

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