GREAT North Run legend ‘Jarra Jim’ – the oldest man in this year’s event at the age of 92 – has pledged to keep on running when he’s 100!
Jim Purcell, of Falmouth Drive, Low Simonside, has completed in 27 Newcastle to South Shields half marathons.
But his dedication to the event is undiminished and this year he is running in support of Epinay School in Jarrow.
Remarkably, Jim only took up running after the death of his beloved wife Betty at the age of 54 in 1982.
And he competed in his first Great North Run in 1986 - with Betty’s ring around his neck.
Jim, who has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for children’s charities and even carried the 2012 Olympic flag, said: “I have no intention of retiring. I’m going to keep on running until I can’t go on any longer.
“Who knows, I could be the first person to take part at the age of 100.
“I’ve been the oldest competitor in the race for the last four years at least and I love everything about the event.
“Last year they had my official time down as four hours and one minute, but in reality it was closer to three and a half hours. I use a stopwatch which I stop whenever I’m stopped by people on the route who want to chat and have their photographs taken with me. People are wonderful with me.”
The Dunkirk veteran, who had both knees replaced in 2003, has prepared for this year’s event by completing in 2.8 mile training runs three times a week.
He added: “About ten years ago my doctor tried to persuade me to give up running but I wasn’t going to listen to that. I take calcium tablets every day and my joints are still strong.”
A BBC film crew spent several hours at Jim’s house earlier this week.
And the results are to be shown during BBC1’s coverage of the event tomorrow, which starts at