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[Guest Post] Joe Strummer Marathon Runner

JSF Runners by The Joe Strummer Foundation

We are delighted to share this guest post with you…. words by Gaby Holford

Joe ran 3 marathons in total – The first was the London Marathon in 1981. We went out and bought new running shoes, neither of us had run since school nor did we do any training beforehand. We just got ourselves up to the starting line on Blackheath and merged in with all the runners as we didn’t have official numbers for our t-shirts! He was away within 15 minutes and I struggled on slowly and eventually, I met the world runners at the back of the race, average age about 70, they were lovely and very encouraging.

The Tower of London was halfway, the 13-mile mark, where I stopped and took a ride on the world runners double-decker bus to the finishing line.  Although I jumped off a few miles before, to soak up the crowds. I saw Joe run by so decide to jump back in the race to catch him as he had the keys to the flat safety pinned in his shorts!  I ran the last 3 miles to the finishing line but would not accept the medal. Where I found Joe elated wrapped in a silver blanket, we got the bus home. 

The 2nd marathon we were in hiding in Paris when Joe hit upon the idea to run again. We went out and bought new trainers and shorts (Not the best idea for a long race!)  I remember well our matching running shorts, red satin with black stripes. This time our new friend and photographer Richard Schroeder dropped us at the start of the race. Once again Joe took off at speed and eventually I found that I was last in the race!  I made it to the halfway mark but this time with a police escort behind me and the Paris traffic behind them!

I hooked up again with the world runners. Their joy of running and taking part in marathons was infectious and they got me to the finish line.  

Joe finished this marathon in 3 and a half hours, his best ever time. Richard, Joe and I found each other and we celebrated with beers and ciggies.

Marathon No 3 – LONDON. Joe ran this one for charity, it was the hardest of the 3 races for him, possibly the pressure, he had to run it. He passed out after he came over the finish line. I’ve heard his time was 4hrs 13 mins, this was his final marathon, running without training is never advisable!

– Gaby Holford


Photo credit: Steve Rapport

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