Race for Wigan lung patient and runner to find a spot in world-famous marathon

Stuart Cook is in training for the New York Marathon
Stuart Cook is in training for the New York Marathon

A keen Wigan runner is appealing for help to secure a place in one of the world’s top marathons before a lung condition stops him in his tracks.

Stuart Cook has already completed four of the World Marathon Majors - London, Berlin, Chicago and Tokyo - and is now training for New York City marathon in November.

He will then only need to finish the Boston marathon to earn the coveted six-star medal given to everyone who completes the prestigious series.

But it is difficult to secure a place, as runners must achieve a qualifying time.

Stuart’s current marathon time is several minutes slower than the standard he needs to meet to qualify.

And he fears he will not be able to improve enough to achieve the time as he has a lung condition named bronchiectasis, which can cause a build-up of mucus and make him more vulnerable to infections.

It has led to him spending time in hospital, forcing him to take time off from his job as a production operator and interrupting his marathon training.

Stuart, 57, said: “It’s 3:35 the qualifying time and I have done 3:41.

“I have noticed that since I have been in hospital, every time I come out I have to start my training from scratch.

“I seem to really struggle to get back to where I was and the times aren’t as good as what they were.”

Stuart started running in 2014 and is a member of Wigan Harriers, as well as a run leader with Golborne Joggers for Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles.

He secured a place in the London marathon in 2016, but had to defer it for a year after falling ill, with a barrage of tests and various medications needed before his lung condition was diagnosed.

Stuart said it was “fantastic” to cross the finish line and it was there he heard about the World Marathon Majors, when he saw a woman with her medal.

“It’s something that fascinated me and I thought I would do that,” he said.

“I get to travel the world and do the running and meet different people.”

While he is now training for his next marathon, Stuart, a father-of-one from Haydock, is also focused on securing his place in Boston.

With the help of friends, he has contacted the marathon organisers asking for help, along with other Boston organisations.

He even delivered a letter to Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, after he was invited to run the marathon earlier this year.

Some places are available through tour operators, but Stuart says 500 people recently applied for 30 places through one company and he was not successful.

He now desperately hopes someone will respond to his appeal so he can complete the majors.