Edmund Shillabeer has an unusual claim to fame: he is the oldest athlete ever to debut for Great Britain, making his first international appearance as a speedwalker at the age of 51. Since then he has gone on to success in endurance events across the UK and Europe.
Edmund’s athletic achievements are impressive. In 2006, at the age of 67, he completed the Ironman UK triathlon in Sherborne, Dorset, with a time of 15:35:45. Three weeks later he became the oldest individual UK Athletics medallist, coming third in the National 50 Kilometre Race Walking Championship. He raised several thousand pounds for the charity Shelterbox in the process.
Edmund is a member of the London Vidarians Walking Club, based in Norbury, and has competed in numerous racewalking events in recent years. In 2007 he set a world record for road-walking in the Netherlands, and in 2008 he won a gold medal as part of the Great Britain team in the 65–69 year age group at the at the European Masters 20-kilometre walk in Ljubljana, Slovenia. In 2009 he completed the Clerical Medical Parish Walk, an 85-mile race-walk around the Isle of Man, with a time of 17:51:08, coming seventeenth out of 187 finishers (out of 1,396 who started the race).
Edmund continues to be an active and successful competitor into his 70s. In September 2009 he completed the 19.4 mile Church to Church walk on Guernsey - a race he won in 1988, 1989, and 2004 - in 3:14:50 for fifth overall. This gave him the best time for a 70 year old, to add to all the five year bests from 45 up. His fastest was 2:40:58 in 1989.
Edmund combines his athletic activities with a full-time job as a veterinary surgeon. He has run his own veterinary practice in his home town of Plymouth, where he lives with his wife Barbara and three children, since 1970.
People used to say school days were the best years of your life. Until my sojourn at university (‘Though I myself have said it, and it's greatly to my credit, I am a Bristol man, I am a Bristol man...’), I used to think that was true. Now I know differently, having been privileged to meet top people and places on the way to my Bristol veterinary degree, with such fun as well! Walk tall.
Edmund Shillabeer BVSc MRCVS (BVSc 1964)