Toughest pensioner in the UK 73, has run 23 ultra marathons – thank to hot chocolate and wine gums

Britain’s toughest pensioner has run 23 ultra-marathons at the age of 73 – and has now set his sights on pacing through the infamous Atacama desert.

Bill Mitchell, 73, only began running in his early sixties and says that he’s now the fittest he’s ever been – running an astonishing 18 marathons last year.

The former merchant navy officer and fitness fanatic, from Turnditch, Derbyshire, has run the infamous Marathon des Sables an astonishing THREE times and even surpassed Sir Ranulph Fiennes’s record of being the oldest participant in the gruelling race.


But the OAP puts his success down to an unusual source – hot chocolate and wine gums.

He said: “A lot of people resign themselves to old age. I always say to people ‘you’re never too old to do anything’.

“The bottom line is anyone can do it as long as they’ve got the desire.”

Despite only having run for ten years, Bill has completed an astounding 157 marathons across the world as well as a total of 227 races.


He has run the infamous Marathon des Sables – an infamous six-day, 250km endurance test where temperatures often exceed 50C – an amazing three times.

Bill said: “The first one in 2016 was a real challenge because they had the highest temperatures they’d ever had.

“I found the second race easier.

“In April 2018 I had hot chocolate every day. It was delicious. I also carried a small bag of wine gums with me.”

Now at an age when most are settling down, the marquee company director said that his ambitions have only increased and last year he ran 18 marathons.


He said: “I want to try and do tougher races. I’m looking at a high altitude marathon in Chile across the Atacama as well as one in the arctic circle.

“I’ve always liked doing things with an edge to them.

“I don’t like to boast. I wanted to rest in the Sahara at a check point. About 3am I got up and set off again. I was running up a sand dune and a runner came past and said ‘by god bill your tough’.

“I’m determined. Once I’ve made my mind up it’s going to happen.”

Bill only began running in April 2008 but had always led an active lifestyle.

He says that his hobby has now led him and his wife Linda, 68, across the globe.

Bill said: “She’s quite pleased for me. She often looks out for races for me. It’s brought a lot into our life because we’ve gone and stayed all over the place we’d just not see if we stayed in Derby.

“She’s been very, very supportive and she’s never complained. She has a day out while I run. Then we meet up.”

Bill has also built up a reputation among his fellow runners as one to watch.

The grandad says that his passion has given him a host of health benefits.

And he has a rigorous training routine which he follows to prepare for events.

Bill said: “My first competitive race was in October of that year. Up until that race I’d just been out running on my own.


“I wasn’t a massive runner beforehand, it wasn’t a big hobby.

“Now I’m a lot fitter than most people my age.

“My heart rate is 53 beats per minute and my cholesterol is very low. My doctor says I have the lowest cholesterol in my local area.


“I can run all over the place and be quite comfortable for long periods of time.

“When you get fit you don’t notice you’re getting fit, it’s quite a gradual thing.

“You need to start upping your mileage and start running with a weighted bag on your bag so your used to the weight and the distance.

“I have a route round where I live. The ground is very uneven and it’s about 22-24 miles long so I do that.


“It’s not about speed, its about time on your legs so they’re used to running for six and seven hours.”

Apart from hot chocolate and wine gums, Bill follows a strict diet to ensure he’s healthy and fit.

He said: “I don’t eat meat, drink but I do eat oily fish. I have a very healthy diet and I don’t touch cream or butter or anything with a lot of fat in.

“I like my food to be quite dry to the extent that people don’t like it.

“If you’re doing things like this you need to have a healthy lifestyle.”