Marathon fever hit the United Kingdom in the early 1980s with races being held in towns and cities throughout the land.

In 1982, Windermere Marathon was organised by Kendal Athletic Club and Windermere Rotary Club and took place on October 31.

The event was officially started by footballer Emlyn Hughes, who was in jokey mood at the rain lashed down on the day.

“It’s been cancelled — come back tomorrow!” he told the nervous runners.

But by then nothing could have stopped the 1,600 athletes about to take part.

Ahead of them were 26 hilly and gruelling miles around the lake. Only a handful had a chance of winning; for most, the point of it all was to complete the course and put up a good time.

Two-and-a-half hours later, the rain was still lashing down as Nick Sirs of Hindstead in Surrey romped home to his first marathon win.

He was three minutes clear of his nearest rival in a time of 2 hrs, 27 mins, 2 secs.

He had actually run six minutes faster when he finished 47th in the London Marathon, but London had nothing to compare with the tiring succession of hills on the Windermere circuit.

“It was a very tough course, but conditions were perfect for the runners,” he said afterwards.

Pete Leviston of Barrow and Bill Todd of Cumberland Fell Runners finished second and third respectively.

Mick McGill, of Kendal, finished tenth in a time of 2 hrs, 36 mins.

In the battle between the ladies Ann Bland of Kendal finished in third place

The team prize went to Sale Harriers, with Clayton-le-Moors second.

The patter of tired feet could still be heard around the course three hours after Nick Sirs crossed the finishing line.

But officials estimated that only 100 runners failed to complete the marathon.

Prizes were presented by Olympic gold medallist Chris Brasher.

The event was held for several years during the 1980s.