Sheffield’s Man With A Pram makes city proud as he completes 22nd Great North Run 

John Burkhill
John Burkhill

He may not have beaten Mo Farah to the finish line, but Sheffield could not be prouder of its Man With A Pram, John Burkhill, as he completed his 22nd Great North Run. 

The annual half marathon, between South Shields and Newcastle, was John’s 1,003rd race; and he achieved a respectable time of four hours and 26 minutes. 

“I’m just as well known up here as I am in Sheffield, so I had plenty of people cheering me on and donating” said the 79-year-old. “I would have had a better time, but it took about 40 minutes to actually get on to the route.

“There were some strong head winds, and it rained a lot, but it had cleared up by the time I reached the finish line.”

Over the last two decades, the tireless fundraiser, who is known for his green wig and distinctive pram, has run every Sheffield marathon since 1982 and was awarded the British Empire Medal in 2013.

During that time, John says he has raised around £750,000 for Macmillan and is determined to carry on until he reaches the £1 million mark.

“No, I’m not going to stop when I’m 80. I’m going to carry on as long as I can, until I can’t walk,” said the dedicated Sheffield Wednesday fan. 

After starting off in the 1960s as a competitive distance walker, John became devoted to his charity work following the tragic deaths of his wife June and his daughter Karen.

Out of hundreds of memorable runs, John says he is most proud of escorting his beloved June around the Sheffield Marathon route in 1992, when she was in a wheelchair. 

“It had always been her wish to get a medal, so I had to do that for her. And the reception we got as we came into the old Don Valley was tremendous. I’ll never forget it. 

“She died about two weeks after that, and I helped her to get her dying wish. I’ll never forget it.”