Running a sub-three-hour marathon at the age of 70 is an achievement in itself. Gene Dykes took that feat one step further over the weekend by covering the distance faster than anyone in his age group ever.
At the Jacksonville Marathon in Florida, Dykes, who hails from Philadelphia, ran 2:54.23. The time set a new record for the M70 age group, surpassing the previous record - set by Ed Whitlock in 2004 - by 25 seconds.
"About two miles to go I started getting little cramp pulses, not full-scale, but it would be like I’d have to stamp my foot to get rid of it," Dykes told Jacksonville.com.
"Then with 400 yards to go, approaching the grass, I had a full-scale cramp and I had to come to a dead halt and hope it went away. I couldn’t even walk."
A new marathon world record was set today...by my 70 year old dad, Gene Dykes 🏆 It’s his 3rd time this year running a sub-3 hour marathon & 3rd times a charm because his race today of 2:54:23 was fast enough to break the last record set in 2003 by Ed Whitlock! pic.twitter.com/I2q0fg2WRs
— Hilary Shirazi (@HilaryShirazi) December 15, 2018
In October, Dykes had come within 30 seconds of the record at the Toronto Marathon.
Remarkably, Dykes warmed up for the Jacksonville race by running a 50km Ultramarathon on December 1st and then also running at the California International Marathon a day later.
"Beating the record, it’s hard to believe" said Dykes.
"But that doesn’t mean so much as achieving the goal I set for myself. It wasn’t until earlier this year that I thought I had a chance of beating this record."