By Toby Crockford and Scott Beveridge
Three years ago, Brisbane, Australia grandfather John Shaw was a self-confessed “couch potato”. Since then, he has been infected by “the running bug” and is now one of the world’s fastest marathon runners.
Shaw has taken on many different roles in his life: father of three, grandfather of five, husband of almost 40 years and, now world record holder.
Shaw grew up in Hobart and even from a young age loved to run, he said sports day was by far his favourite school day of the year. However, after leaving school at age 16 in 1969, he found running after girls to be much more fun.
Fast forward to mid-2012 and Shaw found himself to be a 59-year-old couch potato.
It was at this point he realized it was time for change and over the following three months he walked 1,000 kilometres, cut out junk food and shed 20 kilograms. He then took on a series of running programs and the further he ran, the more his natural speed from childhood returned.
In July 2013, at age 60, he ran his first major race, the Gold Coast Airport Marathon.
Unfortunately Shaw injured his calf two weeks before the event and it gave up after seven kilometres.
He then realized he needed a coach and through a friend met Peter James.
“He understands how to get the best out runners of all ages, but especially older runners,” said Shaw. “He is the sole reason for any success I have had so far or will achieve.”
Over the next two years, Shaw completed the Gold Coast Airport Marathon again as well as the Melbourne Marathon.
Then came the highlight, the world record-breaking run on January 23, 2016.
Shaw joined a team of four who were attempting to break the 4×1500 metre relay world record for 60-to-69 age bracket, set by the Netherlands national team in 1996. In the end, Shaw’s team beat the world record by 27 seconds, the fastest Australian time by one minute seven seconds and the State record by about three minutes. Shaw called it “a good morning’s work”.
The 2016 Gold Coast Airport Marathon saw Shaw finish 70th out of 5467 finishers, take out the world record for his age group and climb to second in the world rankings for his age group, behind fellow Brisbane runner Ron Peters.
On Sunday December 11, Shaw is now going to try and break the world 50 kilometre record at the Gold Coast 50.
Looking further ahead, Shaw hoped to better the current age group marathon record time at the Gold Coast Airport Marathon 2017 and compete in the Point to Pinnacle Race in Hobart – the world’s toughest half marathon.