A BARNSLEY man has spent the last 15 years applying to take part in the London Marathon - and he’s finally got the chance to lace up his shoes and take on one of the world’s most famous road races.

Construction worker and experienced runner Russell Coulson was 20 when he first signed up to take part in the race, which this year saw a record 457,861 runners enter the ballot for 17,500 of the 40,000 places offered.

But Russ has had his heart set on a place a lot longer - first competing as an 11-year-old for Barnsley Athletic Club and Wakefield Harriers in cross-country races.

He will be 35 when he finally pounds the pavement of London’s streets on April 26, in aid of Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice.

“I just could not believe it when I heard I had been successful,” said the father of two who lives on Grange Lane, Cundy Cross.

“Over the years I have had the opportunity to run with some fantastic club runners, and the greatest long distance event to me was always the London Marathon. Taking part had been on my bucket-list for such a long time.

“Each year I filled in the entry form and every time when I got the rejection letter I vowed never to do it again. But each August, as soon as entries opened, I couldn’t help myself.

“This year, all that persistence has finally paid off.”

Russ is getting plenty of encouragement from wife Cherrine and their boys Jay, 11, and Alex, nine, and support from his three Barnsley pals, Alan Moore, Jamie Hughes and Robert Kena who make up the Spare Tyre Runners.

The group, named because they once ran a Tough Guy challenge carrying an old tyre, enter events in aid of Bluebell Wood and have raised around £1,000 in the last three years.

“We chose the children’s hospice because it’s a really important local charity. It provides care for children and young adults whose lives are sadly just too short, both in their own homes and at the hospice in North Anston. We are all dads and feel very grateful that our children are healthy,” said Russ.

You can support Russ’ first ever London Marathon by clicking here.