The boy aiming to break a running world record – when he’s 62

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Seb Jellema has run every day since January – and plans to continue until he’s in his 60s
By Angie Brown
BBC Scotland, Edinburgh and East reporter

A super-fit Scottish schoolboy is working to break a world record for running – but he will be in his 60s before he achieves his ambition.

When 11-year-old Seb Jellema learned that runner Ron Hill ran every single day for 52 years and 39 days, he decided he wanted to beat it.

Since January he has run at least 3km (1.9 miles) every day, even on school trips, a ski holiday and in sweltering heat in France.

Mr Hill, who died in 2021, ran at least a mile a day from 20 December 1964 until 31 January 2017, before ending his streak aged 78.

For Seb to beat that record, he will have to run every day until early 2075, when he will be 62 years old.

“I have started 16 years before Ron did so I hope it is possible to beat his record. I have a dream,” said Seb, who was named after Olympic middle distance runner Baron (Sebastian) Coe.

“The hardest bit so far was when I was ill in November, I had to keep getting out of my bed to run.

“I felt dizzy and it was really hard but I was encouraged to keep going because I did not want to break my challenge and also because I have raised £1,600 so far for charity.”

Ron Hill, who died in 2021, ran at least one mile every single day for 52 years and 39 days

Seb’s longest run was 24km (15 miles) on his birthday in August, across the seven hills of Edinburgh in less than four hours.

“He ran that and then had his birthday party, that’s how bonkers he is,” his mum Claire Jellema, 40, said.

“When he was ill I felt like a terrible mother when he went out running.

“We have never pushed him to do this and I wish he would take a day off but he’s really committed to this.

“When we went to the Alps skiing I thought the challenge would stop but, no, he managed to run up and down the roads which were clear of snow and ice.

“In France in the summer it was roasting hot and it almost killed him running in that, he couldn’t breath and he was sweating and barely moving.”

Seb Jellema often runs with his family

Ron Hill, who was born in Lancashire, ran even when he was seriously injured – in 1993 he suffered serious chest injuries in a head-on crash.

Determined to keep his record going, he defied doctor’s orders and sneaked out to run a mile with a snapped sternum.

“When my mother and my wife went out to do the weekly shop, I walked quickly to a level stretch of road nearby, ran half a mile out and half a mile back and was back in the chair before they got back,” he said.

He even ran a mile a day in a plaster cast for six weeks after an operation on his foot.

Despite having a bad fall in February, Seb has been relatively injury free all year.

Seb with his teacher, Bruce Wilson, running in the early morning before activities while on a school trip

Mrs Jellema said she took it in turns with her husband, Nick, to run with their son.

“What has been wonderful is that on the runs he chats to us and opens up,” she added.

“Before he wouldn’t tell us any detail about school or anything but on the runs he’s not distracted by things going on in the house so he tells us things.

“He’s much more chatty and relaxed, it’s been very sweet.”

His commitment to the challenge has seen him be late for play-dates so he could run beforehand.

His Scout leader took him running each day during a camp and his teacher took him running at 07:00 each day before activities on a school trip to Lagganlia in the Highlands.

So far Seb has run 13,000km (808 miles) and plans to have done another 50km by the end of the year.

“It feels like its been a long way. I’m very proud of myself. The secret is to keep eating.

“All my friends have been encouraging me and I would love to give a shout out to my friends Harrison and Amos for all their pep talks to keep me going.”

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