Aberdeen AAC’s Steve Cassells has run more than 100,000 miles during his lifetime – the equivalent of four times round the world – and has no intention of stopping any time soon.
The 65-year-old retired teacher has kept his enthusiasm for running over the years and has passed many notable landmarks since taking up the sport in 1970.
He has completed 110 half marathons, recording a best time of 1hr 10min 49secs at Inverness in 1992, and has clocked up 49 marathons, the fastest being 2:34:00 at Dundee in 1985.
These have taken him to such diverse venues as Athens, Brisbane, Boston, San Francisco, New York and Warsaw. His most recent race was in Pisa in December 2019.
But the marathon he has done most often is much closer to home – having competed nine times in the Aberdeen race which, sadly, fell by the wayside in 1989.
Cassells said: “The first marathon I did was the 1980 Aberdeen race held on a four-lap course at Bridge of Don. I didn’t finish as I wasn’t properly prepared, so I don’t count it as one of my 49.
“I ran in the inaugural London marathon in 1981, which was the first I completed, and I was happy with my time of 2:55:00.”
“I enjoyed the Dundee marathon, because I got my fastest time there, and I did it four times in all.
“Another that stands out in my memory is the Athens marathon, because of the history associated with it. There was a tremendous atmosphere and it finished inside the old Olympic stadium, which was fantastic.”
Of the 100,000 miles he has run, Cassells says the first one has a special place in his memory.
He said: “I went to school in Thurso and one of my pals measured out a one-mile course on his bike. I ran it as fast as I could and was pleased with the outcome.
“That gave me confidence and I went on to win the mile at my school sports day. So, I joined Caithness AAC and came under the guidance of Sandy Gunn.
“I was fortunate enough to win the North of Scotland School 1500m in 1972 at Inverness and the 5,000m in 1973 (Invergordon) while representing Thurso High School.
“I also won the north of Scotland cross country championship as a youth in 1973 (Inverness) and as a junior in 1975 (Lossiemouth) and 1976 (Gordonstoun).”
Cassells moved to Aberdeen to train as a teacher and in 1976 was a member of the Aberdeen AAC team that won the Scottish under-20 cross country team title.
He has been a member of the club ever since and in addition to road running achievements, was a stalwart of the cross country squad.
Rediscovered training diary reveals extra 10,000 miles
Cassells kept a detailed training diary from 1983 and celebrated completing 50,000 miles in 2002.
But more recently he found that he had actually notched up an extra 10,000 miles by that time.
He said: “While clearing out my mam’s loft, I came across running diaries from the 1970s detailing runs completed and miles covered between then and 1983. So, from 1970 up until February 2002, I had actually covered just over 60,000 miles.
“When I was 15 or 16, I would run 100 miles per week between Christmas and New Year to set me up for the rest of the cross country season. But that was exceptional. I wasn’t usually doing anything like.”
Cassells is still pounding the streets, regularly running around 40 miles a week.
He said: “As I’m now retired from teaching, I have more time for running. I try to run four or five times a week with popular routes around Dyce, Craibstone and Aberdeen Beach.
“I still get lots of ‘toots’ and shouts of encouragement from former pupils while I am out running, which is really nice. At least I think it’s encouragement they are shouting.”
The various lockdowns over the past 12 months haven’t in any way dimmed his enthusiasm.
He said: “Nearing the 100,000 miles total kept me going over the past year and I’ve managed to run a half marathon every Saturday since lockdown.
“I run in the mornings and quite often I’ll walk in the afternoons, so between the two I can cover 70 miles a week.”
Cassells says he’d like to get his marathon race total up to 50, but is in no hurry to hit that target.
He said: “I’m not sure where it will be. I enjoy travelling abroad to compete, but obviously that’s not possible at the moment. There’s still uncertainty, so I’m happy to wait a bit longer.”
Cassells reached his 100,000th mile recently while running through Bucksburn, accompanied by his wife Alison, who is a member of Metro Aberdeen Running Club.