Bill Cooksey, Aged 102, Achieves Historic Feat as Oldest Half-Marathon Finisher!!!

Bill Cooksey

Bill Cooksey, a fabulous 102-year-old World War II hero, has marked his name in history by becoming the oldest man to efficiently complete the Great North Run’s challenging half marathon path. Bill Cooksey is a former RAF soldier from 1941 to 1951.  Aided by his walking companion Gavin Iceton, he started the 13.1-mile journey, from Newcastle to South Shields. He crossed the finishing line in an exceptional time, five hours and 41 minutes.

Cooksey’s outstanding physical triumphs at an advanced age are not limited to this event. To celebrate his 100th birthday, he completed 10 miles a day for ten consecutive days. Then, for his 101st birthday, he cycled an incredible 1,000 miles. At the age of 102, he took on the half-marathon challenge to support the County Durham and Darlington NHS Trust.

In an interview with ITV before the race, Cooksey shared his inspiration, saying, “I’ve always wanted to do it. I’ve been living here for 30 years and have always enjoyed walking. When I heard about the Great North Run, I thought, ‘Surely I can do that,’ especially with the added purpose of supporting the NHS. I wouldn’t have undertaken this challenge if it weren’t for the NHS benefiting from it.

Bill Cooksey runner

The Great North Run presented its challenges as heavy rainfall followed days of high heat in the U.K., causing flooded roads and the Metro system. Due to these conditions, many runners found themselves walking more extended distances than expected.

Regardless of these hindrances, Cooksey strived and achieved his goal. After this remarkable victory, he said, “I am glad I have done it. I wish we didn’t have to go through all that rain—but we did it.”

Bill’s journey to this historic half-marathon started with a fight against severe health issues in 2020. He received pacifying care at the County Durham and Darlington NHS Trust. He made a great comeback and undertook a 1,000-mile tri-cycle challenge in Newton Aycliffe, raising over £1,600 for the NHS Trust. In 2021, Bill raised nearly £2,600 for the same NHS Trust by walking 100 miles in 10 days.

Bill’s decision to take on the half marathon was initially inspired by the desire for a new challenge, having already ventured most of the long-distance hikes in northern England. This tremendous victory has also allowed him to raise about £1,500 for the County Durham and Darlington NHS Trust, with more donations still being counted.

Bill Cooksey on cycle

Pat Chambers, the charity development manager for the trust, praised Cooksey’s outstanding efforts, and stated, “What a hero Bill Cooksey is. He continued walking through a thunderstorm to become a record breaker, completing it in just over five hours and 40 minutes. We are so proud of him.” Emphasizing the significance of the charity’s work, Bill stated that they provide crucial items that might not be labeled as “vital to patient care” but greatly improve the hospital experience for both patients and staff. This includes everything from visitor chairs and children’s ward toys to fridges for nursing staff, ensuring they can stay sustained while caring for patients all the time.

Despite his remarkable victories; Bill’s military career was equally extraordinary, involving four years in the Middle East and service on board an air-sea rescue flight that supported the 8th army in Benghazi.


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