Magnificent Derek, 80, completes seventh charity marathon

York man Derek Utley, 80, completes his own Yorkshire Marathon. Photograph: Peter Harrington
20 Oct 2020 @ 8.07 am
| News

Even though organisers of the Yorkshire Marathon had to cancel this year’s event, nothing it seems was going to stop one York man from walking the 26.2 miles.

In-fact, this was the seventh consecutive Yorkshire Marathon for 80-year-old Derek Utley.

And on Sunday (18 October), Derek completed three laps of his own carefully measured course, between Dunnington and Gate Helmsley, in an impressive six hours 31 minutes. 

That means his average walking speed was four miles per hour. According to the British Heart Foundation, the average walking pace for anyone is only three miles per hour.

Sporting a previous marathon number, an upbeat Derek was regularly joined by supporters and well-wishers who offered snacks, drinks and continuous encouragement throughout.

Over the seven years Derek’s marathon walking efforts have generated thousands of pounds for charity. 

After crossing the finishing line on Sunday Derek talked about why walking the marathon was so close to his heart.

“It raises a lot of money for charities that I feel need an enormous amount of support, particularly now during a pandemic when other sources of money from events have been cut off,” he said.

Three charities including, York St Leonards’ Hospice, Cancer Research UK, MacMillan Cancer Support all benefit from Derek’s efforts.

Fabulous work

Derek has known many friends and family who have been affected by cancer and he is fully aware of the outstanding work the charities do. 

“I know the treatment people receive at St Leonard’s is absolutely fabulous and also MacMillan offers excellent technical and social assistance, all for free.”

Before Derek started his marathon walk , he had already raised £1,500. His hope is that this figure will top £2,000.

Asked whether he’ll do it all again in 2021, Derek said that he’s very lucky to be able to complete seven, and he’d love to give eight a go.