Barnsley dad Russ Coulson doesn’t believe in lucky numbers - but he might need to change his mind.

After trying to win a place in the London Marathon for 14 years on the trot, Russ has finally struck lucky with his 15th application.

It’s already been a marathon feat. He was a child when he first set his heart on running what is now the world’s most popular marathon and was 20 when he first applied.  

Russell, who works in construction, will be 35 when he finally gets to achieve his goal, and will be sprinting through the streets of London on April 26 in aid of Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice.

Nearly half a million runners entered the 2020 ballot for 40,000 places, a new world record which officially makes it the most popular marathon on the planet.

“I just could not believe it when I heard I had been successful,” said Russ, a 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!”

But Russ, who got the running bug aged 11 and competed in cross-country for Wakefield Harriers and Barnsley Athletic Club, did admit to feeling daunted now his long-held dream has become reality. “I thought - I need to start training. I’ve got to make that finishing line!” he said.

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.

It costs £4.8million - £13,325 a day - to keep the hospice’s doors open for families across South Yorkshire, North Derbyshire, North Nottinghamshire and parts of North Lincolnshire and the hospice receives only around 9% of its funding from government sources.

“It’s people like Russ and his friends who make all the difference to what we can provide for families,” said hospice Community Fundraising Anna Gott.

“Russ has clearly got staying power. We take our hats off to him for persevering and are delighted he has chosen to support us at what is going to be a very momentous life event for him.”

You can support Russ’ first ever London Marathon at