With "Buster" Martin's straggly beard, dry wit, and advanced years, his attempt to run the London Marathon was always going to present PR people with an irresistible feel-good tale.
At 101 years old, he would be the oldest man to complete the punishing 26-mile course. But as the alleged centenarian hobbled his way through the London drizzle yesterday, his story was beginning to unravel.
On Saturday, The Times disclosed that Guinness World Records had refused to verify his claim to be the oldest marathon runner. Now it has emerged why the world record guardians will not be featuring Mr Martin in its publication. Correspondence between senior officials at the organisation shows that Guinness has evidence that Mr Martin is not as elderly as he claims but is a mere spring chicken of just 94 years old.
Guinness received information that Mr Martin, whose real name is Pierre Jean Martin, told NHS staff that he was born on September 1, 1913, not 1906, as he now claims.
Guinness World Records was advised: "There is also downside risk associating Guinness with a questionable claim ... more than just his age is in question, as 'Buster' Martin 'likes to tell stories'."
When confronted about the dispute about his age, Mr Martin said: "I know how long I have lived. There are always rumours from a lot of people who are jealous." - ind