VETERAN North-East athlete Ian Barnes today set the UK mile record for over 85-year-olds with a time nearly a minute faster than his target.

Ian Barnes, who lives in Darlington, recorded a time of 8 minutes 10.40 seconds in a race against seven other runners at the Eastbourne athletics track in the town.

It has been officially recognised as the British Masters mile record for his age group.

The retired legal executive, who is joint president of Darlington Harriers and the driving force behind the town’s Parkrun in South Park, said the race had gone better than expected.

“I was aiming for around nine minutes, so it was a lot better than I’d hoped,” said Ian, who started running competitively when he was 20 and is 86 in December.

He added: “I just enjoy it – it gets the adrenaline going. You have highs and lows but it’s great to keep fit.

“It can be hard work training in the winter months but, once you get going, the weather’s not that bad really. You don’t have to give up sport – age doesn’t have to be a cut-off point or a barrier to taking part.”

Ian, who was born in Northallerton, has no intention of giving up running just yet and was also pleased to discover he had only been four seconds off the 1,500-metre record for over 85-year-olds.

“I think I’d like to have a crack at beating that record next year,” he said.

In the summer of 2019, Ian became Britain’s fastest man aged over 80 to run a mile, recording a time of seven minutes 54 seconds on a track at Shildon.

At the time, he said: “I was rather disappointed – I should have been 20 seconds faster, but I was sharper in the Spring and I’d gone off the boil.”

Mark Tallon, Darlington Harriers’ Track and Field Manager said: “Ian’s an inspiration to all of us. He’s not just a record-setter, but he’s also one of our most regular volunteers, always willing to get out there in all-weathers, supporting others. We’re just really proud of him.”