Life begins at 60 for a super fit grandpa who plans to break a Guinness World Record to celebrate his milestone birthday by running 60 marathons in 60 days while raising £600,000 for a local children’s hospice.
Steve Radjen, Group Client Services Director at a LAB Group digital agency, has spent 10 years preparing for his current challenge after completing the grueling Marathon des Sables – a 156-mile long-distance run in the Sahara desert – in 2012 for his 50th birthday – had graduated.
But when he first put on his running shoes in 2004, Steve, who lives in Brockenhurst in the New Forest of Hampshire with his wife Gerry, 59, a Treasurer, and have two children, Victoria, 31, a teacher, and Emily, 29, Hair and make-up artist for television and theater, remembers an illness.
He said: “One morning just after Christmas, I put on a pair of sneakers and went for my first run.
“I made it about a mile up a hill before spitting out my guts at the top because I was so unfit.”
But he didn’t give up and is now preparing for the 60-marathon challenge of his life.
He said: “A lot of people have wondered why I would even try to do something so crazy.
“That’s one of the easiest questions I’ve ever had to answer. Simply put, I don’t run to add days to my life, I run to add days to other lives.
“From the moment I walked through the doors of Naomi House Children’s Hospice, I felt an immediate desire to give back, and the moment I stepped out the door, my life had changed forever.”
He added: “I knew I wanted to help support this amazing cause in any way I could.
“I’m aware of the burden this puts on my shoulders, but the support I receive from the children, families and staff makes it all worthwhile.”
A determined character, since his first run in 2004 – despite becoming ill from it – Steve has strived to improve.
He said: “My daughters grew up very athletic and I watched them play hockey one afternoon and although I’ve never been overweight I do remember standing on the sidelines watching them play and thinking about my age and how I do it had to do to get in shape.
“I was afraid that as I got older I would get fatter and become unhealthy as a result.
“So I made it my goal to run the London Marathon, which I did in 2005.”
He added: “I’ve never looked back. Running has become a big part of my life since then.”
And the Naomi House in Hampshire gave him the perfect incentive as he made it his cause, which he ran to raise money for.
He said: “My wife and I were at a gala event in support of Naomi House and just looking at her work really moved me.”
He added: “I am blessed with two healthy daughters, but the people whose children are at Naomi House are faced with every parent’s worst nightmare.
“It really puts things into perspective.”
Steve has worked closely with the hospice to raise funds for the past 18 years.
He said: “At the time I was running a marketing and design agency and I would offer them pro bono work on any print and advertising design they needed.
“And I also completed challenges to help them raise funds.”
In 2018 the hospice celebrated its 21st birthday and Steve decided to celebrate the occasion.
He said: “I wanted to do something big and I’m very attached to numbers. Since it was her 21st year, I decided to run 21 marathons in 21 days.
“It was a big challenge but I had friends and family take turns walking with me and every time I wanted to stop I was thinking only of the families who depend on hospice.
“My goal was to raise £100,000 but in the end I managed to raise £184,000.”
Steve’s string of achievements earned him a British Empire Medal on the Queen’s New Year’s Honors List for 2021 and now he has his sights set on his biggest challenge yet – running 60 marathons in 60 days to celebrate his 60th birthday.
He said: “I turned 60 on June 6 and again the numbers felt important to me.
“I’m starting my first run on August 17th and I’ll be putting my body through the absolute strain of wrestling, but I’m determined to get through this.”
But Steve’s mammoth challenge has his family concerned.
He said: “My wife was really against the idea at first as she is very worried about how it will affect my health.
“We talked a lot about it and I enlisted the help of running coach Nick Anderson from Running With Us, a nutritionist and a physical therapist to keep me fit.”
He added: “My daughters think I’m crazy but they’re very supportive. Emily will be running with me for a few days and Victoria will also be cycling with me.”
And upon completion, Steve will become a new Guinness World Record holder.
He said: “The current record is 59 marathons in 59 days, so I’ll have to go all the way to beat it.”
He added: “It will be both a mental and physical challenge and I will fit in with the daily runs around work which will last between four and a half and five hours.
“After that, I look forward to my life returning to some normalcy.
“My family has put up with a lot of disruption due to the challenge, so it will be nice to rest and relax together.”
He added: “It’s all for a good cause and my thoughts will be on the children’s hospice as I race to the finish.”
Paul Morgan, Naomi House’s director of fundraising, is full of praise for Steve’s commitment.
He said, “Steve embodies the community-focused nature of the support that has enabled us to grow as a charity.”
He added: “Over the years, Steve has tackled some of the toughest physical endurance challenges imaginable, and always with the twin goals of raising funds and raising awareness to support our children.
“Steve has used his professional skills to help grow our brand and has led the charity’s strategy as Trustee and Chair of the Fundraising and Marketing Committee. So it’s not surprising that Steve has become our most successful single fundraiser over the years.”
To donate to Steve’s cause, visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/steve-radjen-60in60at60