A remarkable world record is still within the sights of a Midlands endurance athlete at next month's inaugural Birmingham International Marathon.
Coventry-born Steve Edwards is aiming to break the world record for running 800 official marathon races in the fastest average finish time at the Birmingham International Marathon on Sunday, October 15.
Going into 2017 the 54-year-old IT worker required another 39 successful marathon finishes to achieve a new world record for running ‘800 official marathon races in the fastest average finish time' and has been ticking off events across the country throughout the year.
He is now counting down to Birmingham's sold-out 26.2-mile run to complete his feat in style.
The Birmingham International Marathon takes place on the same day as the Simplyhealth Great Birmingham Run half marathon, which means more than 22,000 people could be running in Birmingham on Sunday, October 15.
Starting at Alexander Stadium, the marathon will take in iconic city sights like Villa Park, Selfridges, Edgbaston Cricket Ground and picturesque Cannon Hill Park before runners head for the city centre to finish in front of thousands of cheering spectators.
The popular half marathon starts on Jennens Road near Millennium Point and the striking new Birmingham Conservatoire building before taking runners through south Birmingham and a city centre finish.
Anyone signing up for the half marathon will get a guaranteed entry window to next year's Birmingham International Marathon, which, in its first year, sold out its 9,000 general entry places four months before it takes place.
“Having decided that I would like to complete this achievement in Birmingham where I ran my 50th marathon back in 1989, it basically meant I had just 41 weeks to do it,” explained Steve.
“So here we are with just weeks to go, I can't believe where the time has gone but I'm really pleased to say that despite a few injury niggles, everything so far has gone pretty much to plan.
“My average finish time so far this year for 31 marathons is 3:19 so as long as I can maintain a similar finish time for my remaining eight marathons, the average time for the 800 will hardly change. Who knows, I might even be able to get it down a little.”
Steve trains mid-week by running, cycling, carrying out core work and weights; a schedule he describes as full on and tough at times but ‘necessary if I'm going to achieve the record'.
“Trying to recover after each marathon to run another one at around 3:15-3:20 pace each week also gets ever more difficult,” added Steve.
“There are days when I get out of bed wondering how on earth I'm going to run one mile at that pace let alone 26.2 miles!”
Steve's remaining races are at Milton Keynes, Wolverhampton, New Forest, Richmond Park, Hull, Hillingdon, Bournemouth and Birmingham, with a couple of back-up races ‘just in case'.
“I'm just hoping and praying I can stay injury free and healthy which as time gets nearer I know I will get ever more nervous! Well, nervous but also excited!” he added.
“I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to running what will be Birmingham's first marathon since the 1980s.
“I just know the atmosphere will be electric and of course hugely inspiring to be part of an event with close to 10,000 other runners taking part.
“My wife Teresa will also be there and I know she's extremely proud of what I'm trying to achieve. The fact is I couldn't do this without her love and support.
“I'd like to say good luck to everyone taking part in the last few weeks of their training and preparation and hope you all arrive at the start line fit and ready to achieve your targets.”
Birmingham staged one of the country's first open-to-all marathons, the People's Marathon, which ran from 1980-85 and was organised by late Solihull-based elite runner John Walker.