Athletics: Record-breaker Brian is a real-life 'Wonder Athlete'
An 80-year-old athlete has set his eighth individual British age-group record after being inspired to start running by a 1940s comic book character.
Brian Ashwell, from Leicester, now holds the one-hour track record for men aged 70, 72 to 75, 78 to 79 and now 80.
The member of West End Runners ran 12,872 metres in the annual Leamington one-hour track race.
He beat the previous record, held by William Davis, by 1,441 metres – even with an injured calf muscle.
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Ashwell also went through the 5,000m and 10,000m points during the race quicker than the current British record for a man of his age.
Ashwell said the only reason he did not have the full decade of records was because the Leamington track was being laid when he was 71, and he was unable to run in the other two years because he was suffering from shingles.
"Running has always come naturally to me," he said.
"In my younger days, I could run a mile in just over four minutes, and the 100m in just over 10 seconds.
"But I also feel very lucky as I still feel fit and full of energy. There are probably a lot of people my age who could run faster than me if it wasn't for injuries."
Ashwell first started running 68 years ago, in 1944, after being inspired by Wilson the Wonder Athlete, a character from the comic book Wizard.
Published in July 1943, his first adventure saw Wilson join a race from out of the crowd and run a three-minute mile.
"Wilson was the best coach I ever had," said Ashwell.
Now aged 80, Ashwell said his new target is to run a mile in under six minutes.
"To be honest, I don't really like racing in competitions," he said.
"I just enjoy the freedom of running and I think that's the key to my success.
"I'm not after any glory or pats on the back. I usually just go home after a race."
The super-fit pensioner has never smoked, never drank alcohol and does not eat junk food.
However, he also claimed not to drink water either, opting instead for 15 cups of tea day.
He is also years ahead of his time when it comes to training techniques.
"I did altitude training in my back bedroom years ago," he said.
"I used to go on my treadmill, shut the windows and doors, and put a gas mask on."