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Last but not least – Jim is setting records at Fram Flyers

PUBLISHED: 17:00 24 January 2018

Jim Last, on his way to second spot at last November's Stowmarket Striders Scenic Seven road race, heading through Onehouse. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

Jim Last, on his way to second spot at last November's Stowmarket Striders Scenic Seven road race, heading through Onehouse. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

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Some runners just seem to get quicker with age. Jim Last certainly fits the bill.

Top three: veteran Jim Last, left, alongside race-winner Tom Adams, centre), and third-placed Alex Tripp, both teenagers, after last summer's Kirton Friday Five. Last finished second.  Picture: STEVE WALLER Top three: veteran Jim Last, left, alongside race-winner Tom Adams, centre), and third-placed Alex Tripp, both teenagers, after last summer's Kirton Friday Five. Last finished second. Picture: STEVE WALLER

Despite joining the veteran ranks, Last has continued to lower his personal best times and also break club records at his Framlingham Flyers club.

The 41-year-old has twice re-written the Flyers’ marathon best, in 2015 and again last year, and he wants to complete a hat-trick, possibly at this April’s London Marathon.

Certainly, Last is an inspiration to all those runners who feel that getting the wrong side of 40 puts an end to their chances of smashing PBs or setting other personal landmarks.

He is also a good role model for all those considering a stab at competitive road running or cross country, having perhaps dabbled in the odd parkrun or two.

Jim Last (raised hand) running alongside Framlingham Flyers' club-mate  Adam Howlett during the London Marathon of 2015. Last broke the Flyers' marathon record in this race Jim Last (raised hand) running alongside Framlingham Flyers' club-mate Adam Howlett during the London Marathon of 2015. Last broke the Flyers' marathon record in this race

That’s because he only returned to the sport in 2011 following his earlier flirtation as a junior, spending the best part of two decades playing local football.

But a word of warning – don’t expect to just be churning out the miles as quickly as speed merchant Last, who clocked a scorching 2hrs 42mins 22secs at London, 2017.

“I suppose you could say that I am getting better with age, although I don’t really have a secret,” explained Last.

“I’ve just had a little bit of luck with managing to steer clear of injuries.

“I was a member of Framlingham Flyers as a junior, many years ago, in the infancy of the club in the late 1980s, early 1990s. In those days there were just three or four juniors at the club – Ricky (Peacher), me and perhaps one or two others.

“But I then stopped running, because football took over. I played on Saturdays and Sundays, for Framlingham Town and then more regularly for Dennington Utd. That stopped when I got injured playing football, at the age of 34. I tore ligaments in my knee, tried to come back, but thought it a bit risky.

- On the Run: A jaunt through the woods at Linford Wood parkrun

“So instead, I started running again. I ran the Framlingham 10K as an unattached athlete in 2010 (14th in 37mins 53secs), and Ricky (Peacher) then kept chipping away at me to run some cross country and road races for the club,” added Last, who lives in Framlingham.

A marathon debut followed in 2012 – he clocked 3hrs 11mins 06secs, but it wasn’t long before Last was ducking under three hours and then breaking records.

In 2013, he followed up a 3:02:47 clocking at London with a swift 2:57:08 at Amsterdam, the first of a few excursions onto mainland Europe for a few 26.2-mile events.

He lowered his PB to 2:55:34 at the Warsaw Marathon in Poland in 2014, but it was the following year when he really burst onto the scene with a cracking 2:46:51 at the London Marathon, which broke the Framlingham Flyers’ club record.

For good measure, he followed this up with 2:57:04 at Berlin in September of 2015, proved his consistency with 2:47:40 at the London Marathon in 2016, and then broke his own club record with a PB of 2:42:22 at London last April.

“I like to keep things quiet, but I’d like to go faster in the future. My gold target would be to run a sub-2:40 marathon, and the silver target would be to beat my PB,” revealed Last.

“I’ve upped my training a little bit, in terms of the volume of miles and number of runs, but I haven’t increased the fast stuff because I find it more difficult to recover these days.”

Having started out as a junior runner, Last is keen to help boost the next generation of young runners at the Framlingham club, in harness with club stalwart and head coach, Ricky Peacher.

“I help with coaching the juniors before our session on a Monday night,” explained Last, with regards the weekly junior get-togethers at Framlingham Sports Club on Badingham Road.

- On the Run: history repeats itself at Norwich parkrun

“Ricky and I tend to take the older ones, out on the road, while the younger athletes train on the grass. We have a flourishing junior section, and the whole club really went from strength-to-strength when Ricky took on the role of secretary a few years ago.

“We have 70-plus runners turn up on a Monday evening, and there’s currently a waiting list for our three different junior age groups.”

In addition to success at the marathon, Last is also a cracking runner over the shorter distances.

Last summer, he excelled in the Friday Five Series, finishing second at the Stowmarket and Kirton five-milers, fourth at Bury, fifth at Framlingham (PB of 27:21) and seventh at Great Bentley.

He also registered a fast 16:04 at the Twilight 5K in Ipswich last August, a PB he would love to lower to under 16 minutes.

Few would bet against him achieving all those goals.

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