JUST over a year ago Mike Shaw took up running to help him get over his beloved wife Winnie’s death.
And yesterday he completed the Great South Run – at the grand age of 83.
The great-grandfather, from Purbrook, was given a prime position at the front of the pack on the start line as he and thousands of others pounded the streets for the 25th Great South Run to be staged in Portsmouth.
He said: ‘The atmosphere was simply tremendous.
‘It took me 2hrs 20mins, which is about the time we thought it would take.
‘The thing is, people were stopping me on the way round and taking photographs of me.
It’s something I wanted to do, just to prove I could do itMike Shaw
‘I met so many lovely people along the way.
‘I am very pleased to have made it. It’s something I wanted to do, just to prove I could do it’.
To keep the momentum going, he listened to Elvis Presley’s number one hits along the way.
Mike took up running with the Denmead Striders last year when he lost his wife to cancer.
He said: ‘There was a very special moment when I got close to the Jolly Sailor pub where the Striders were marshalling.
‘They stepped forward and formed a guard of honour for me to run underneath.’
As well as running club, Mike keeps fit at Fitness First in Southsea.
He was invited to do the Great South Run by manager Lynsey O’Boyle and trainer Scott James.
They ran together and Mike said they shared an exhausted but elated hug when they crossed the finish line.
Lynsey, 31, from Waterlooville, said: ‘It was fantastic.
‘It was so good to be able to be there to support him.
‘He is so wonderful and it was an honour to run with him.’
Scott said: ‘Mike has been a breath of fresh air. He is a lovely man. I lost my grandfather a couple of years-ago and working with Mike has really helped me.
‘Nowadays you see so many old people just get older sitting in a chair and don’t want to do anything.
‘But Mike is an inspiration. He proves that if you look after yourself and keep fit you can do anything, at any age.’
Mike’s wife Winnie lost her battle with cancer last year.
She was a volunteer for Age Concern, in Leigh Park.
Mike says as well as Winnie and Elvis, his other inspiration is former long-distance runner John Tarrant.
Nicknamed The Ghost Runner for his habit of gatecrashing races from which he had been barred due to his non-amateur status, he broke world records, county records and won many races during his career.