Champion efforts by London Marathon runners in our region
PUBLISHED: 22:56 13 April 2014 | UPDATED: 22:56 13 April 2014
From elite athletes to charity fundraisers in fancy dress, an estimated 36,000 people pounded the streets of our capital in the 34th London Marathon.
Among those running the 26.2 mile course yesterday were 580 people from Norfolk, 699 people from Suffolk and 729 from Cambridgeshire.
The warmest temperatures anywhere in the UK fell on runners and spectators, and unbroken sunshine and barely a breath of wind meant the 11C (51.8F) recorded at the start of the race in Greenwich at 10am felt considerably warmer.
More than 1,200 volunteers from St John Ambulance lined the streets as the mercury rose to 16C (60.8F).
A huge cheer was reserved for Olympic hero Mo Farah as announcers called out his name to the spectators as being among the ones to watch for. But despite being among the bookies’ favourites, the 31-year-old failed to break into the podium positions.
Along every part of the course, the crowd cheered raucously as the runners pounded the capital’s roads.
Celebrities taking part included former Liverpool and England striker Michael Owen, Game of Thrones actress Natalie Dormer and Michelin-star chef Michel Roux Jr.
Labour politicians Ed Balls, Andy Burnham and Sadiq Khan also posed for “selfies” in their running vests before the race began.
And there was the customary collection of those undertaking the marathon in fancy dress – with plenty of comic book characters and furry animal costumes. Serial fundraiser Tony Phoenix-Morrison carried a 42kg fridge on his back.
Marathon veteran David Stone from Exeter in Devon set a new Guinness World Records title for the fastest marathon dressed as a television character in a time of 2:49:51.
The 31-year-old tackled the course - his 16th time on the London circuit - dressed as a Thunderbirds character.
Fellow 31-year-old Ali King from London set a new record for the fastest marathon dressed as a baby boy, in 2:51:18, while 43-year-old Steven Nimmo from Orpington in London now holds the record for the fastest marathon in male school uniform, coming home in 2:50:17.
Keen athlete 25-year-old Alex Prior spent 26 nervous miles pounding the capital’s streets before spotting partner Jess Seldon cheering him on from behind a barrier as the race’s end drew near. He took time out to propose – on one knee – with the finish line just 200 metres away. She accepted.
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• Victoria Bacon and Sarah Hope
Child amputees in Liberia are set to benefit from the marathon efforts of Victoria Bacon and her sister Sarah Hope.
The wife of South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon and her twin have raised about £30,000 to help children in need after they completed the London Marathon in about five hours and 15 minutes.
About the London Marathon experience, Victoria said: “It was amazing, London was alive. It was hard but it was fantastic. “The amount of people there supporting you as you go along, shouting your name, it was incredible.
“It was tough but there was the most magical atmosphere, with lots of other people also feeling the same pain and the same determination. The amount of charities being supported was very moving.”
The twins founded Elizabeth’s Legacy of Hope - which helps children missing limbs - in 2011 after Sarah’s daughter Pollyanna lost a limb when she was struck by a London bus. Sarah was also badly injured and the twins’ mother, Elizabeth, was killed in the incident.
The money the twins have raised from the marathon will enable the charity to work with Street Child to help children in Liberia.
Victoria said: “We are very excited about the amount of money we have raised. People have been very generous and we are just really looking forward to helping children in Liberia.”
• Becky and Matt Henman
Becky Henman will forever enjoy bragging rights over her husband Matt finishing the London Marathon one second faster than him.
The Dereham couple crossed the line hand in hand but Mrs Henman, 34, a dance teacher, edged ahead of her 43-year-old husband, who is Dereham Town Football Club’s first team manager, with a time of 4hrs 59mins 47secs.
They were given just 10 weeks to train after securing a last-minute place in the marathon.
Mrs Henman said: “That one second will give me bragging rights for many years to come.”
The couple raised more than £3,600 for children’s cancer charity Clic Sargent.
• Ben Conway
Just 10 weeks ago Ben Conway injured his back in a snowboarding accident in the French Alps, but the trainee dispensing optician refused to let that stop him completing the London Marathon.
Despite hardly being able to do any training after suffering a prolapsed disc in his back, 32-year-old Mr Conway finished the marathon course in just under five hours.
“I really thought I was going to run half of it and then have to walk the rest, but I was able to run the whole thing.
“Nobody could believe I actually finished it – but I’m still standing!” said Mr Conway, who works at the Norwich-based Dipple and Conway opticians started by his great-grandfather in 1916.
Mr Conway hopes to raise £2,000 for children’s charity Break, and he is following in the footsteps of his brother Edmund, father Damian, and uncle James who have all previously run the marathon to raise funds for Break.
• Ben Jones
Fakenham fireman Ben Jones battled his way through the London Marathon in a full firefighters’ outfit, including helmet and boots.
Mr Jones, 35, was aiming for a world record time of 4hrs 45mins 16secs in the challenging attire but conditions proved too tough.
The retained fire-fighter, who was running for The Fire Fighters Charity, finished in 5hrs 45mins.
He said: “It was really hot. The boots filled up with sweat and the water I poured on myself to keep cool and they were so heavy.
“I was determined to finish for everyone who sponsored me and I’m pleased to have done that at least.”
• Ben McCann
The bravery of a five-year-old girl inspired Ben McCann to the marathon finish line.
Mr McCann, 46, was running the London Marathon to raise money for a specialist wheelchair to help Izzie Eve, from Beetley, near Dereham who has cerebral palsy.
Mr McCann, who is from the same village, finished in 3hrs 56mins and
estimates that he has raised between £1,500 and £2,000.
He said: “I started a bit too quick and the heat was unbelievable.
“I was really struggling at 22 miles, then a guy ran past me with no arms.
“I also met a woman who was running blindfolded as she was raising money to help a blind girl.
“I thought of little Izzie as well and it all put everything in perspective for me and inspired me to push on to the finish line.”
• David Bane
Forty-nine-year-old lorry driver David Bane smashed his target of four hours in yesterday’s marathon, achieving a time of three hours and 37 minutes.
The father-of-one said the cheering crowed prevented him from stopping to walk in the last two miles.
He said: “I was very pleased, especially as the weather was quite warm today.
“I would never say never but I don’t think I will try it again next year.”
Mr Bane, who was born and bred in Stalham, was raising money for the Alzheimer’s Society in support of his mother who was diagnosed with the illness about five years ago.
He was hoping to raise around £500 for the charity and said he was delighted to have beaten his target.
• Elaine Haggarty
Animal-lover Elaine Haggarty ran her seventh London Marathon yesterday and was raising funds for a wildlife hospital.
The 58-year-old, from Bradwell, said: “It went really well.
“I wanted to do it in under five-and-a-half hours and I just scraped in so I’m pleased with my time.
“The marathon was just lovely as always and the crowds were great. I really enjoyed it.”
The Great Yarmouth and District Athletic Club member said she hoped to raise more than £200 for Foxy Lodge Wildlife Hospital in Hemsby.
• Harrison Jeffries
Nineteen-year-old student Harrison Jeffries ran the London Marathon in three hours, seven minutes and 19 seconds, beating by some way the time in which he ran the Brighton Marathon last year.
The former Langley School pupil’s marathon effort was to raise funds and awareness for Kidney Research UK, a cause close to his heart because a member of his family suffered kidney failure and is currently on daily dialysis and waiting for a transplant.
Mr Jeffries, from Brundall and who is studying sport and exercise science at Birmingham University, said: “I improved my time by about 17 minutes so I’m really pleased about that. The atmosphere was great. I really enjoyed the race and the crowd definitely carried me through. It was such a good experience.”
Mr Jeffries has raised over £1,000 for Kidney Research UK and said he wanted to thank everybody who had sponsored him.
• Kevin Sanford
With a double hip replacement behind him, ‘bionic man’ Kevin Sanford was delighted when he dipped over the line in under six hours.
The 43-year-old martial arts instructor from Thetford took on the challenge of a lifetime in aid of The Samaritans, after he lost two brothers in a year to depression.
Like many others taking part, his biggest barrier turned out to be agonising cramp.
“I absolutely loved it and the atmosphere was awesome but when the cramp kicked in that was tough.
“I was headed for about five hours but had to walk a lot of it - which ended up being faster than a lot of people’s running.”
Mr Sanford has raised more than £1,200 and thanked the people of Thetford for their support.
• Laura Wiltshire
Laura Wiltshire has raised more than £5,200 for Breakthrough Breast Cancer after competing her first London Marathon.
The 23-year-old from Queens Hills, Costessey, ran the marathon in five hours, 10 minutes and four seconds, and she described it as an incredible experience.
“The atmosphere really carries you, with the cheering from the crowd and the support from the other runners,” she said.
Laura chose to support Breakthrough Breast Cancer because her mum Fiona, 53, has battled breast cancer.
She had originally hoped to raise £2,000 for the charity and said she was delighted to have absolutely smashed her target.
“Thank you to everybody for their support and donations, I never expected to raise so much,” she said.
• Mandy Beresford
Despite suffering from a knee injury, 49-year-old nurse Mandy Beresford sailed through the finish line half an hour faster than expected at four hours and 56 minutes.
Raising money for lung patients in Sheringham, Mrs Beresford said the support from the crowd was astonishing.
She said: “The best thing I did was print my name on my t-shirt for people to cheer me on as I ran past.
“I never once thought I would give up but it was the toughest thing I have ever done in my life.”
Mrs Beresford used “good old fashioned sponsorship forms” to raise more than £600 for the British Heart Foundation breathe easy group.
• Matthew Pask
Matthew Pask was one of a string of runners to fall victim to the agony of cramp but still crossed the line in his first ever marathon.
The 47-year-old, who owns Urban Haircutters in Thorpe St Andrew, said his legs were “totally stiff” on the final stretch of the race, finishing in 3 hours 41 minutes.
“It was like the worst possible cramp and it hit me so hard after a fairly good first half.
“The atmosphere was just fantastic though and all the way round you could feel the support,” he said.
Mr Pask was running for Wymondham Athletics Club and raising money for the critical care unit at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
• Melanie Floyd
While for some the London Marathon was a totally new experience, for Melanie Floyd it was the latest in her attempts to run 52 marathons this year.
London clocked in at number 13 for the 43-year-old from Thetford, who was running for Headway charity just two weeks after her husband, Roger, suffered a mild stroke.
She said despite her marathon experience, London was something special.
“It’s like the whole of the city is out supporting you, chanting your name. It’s just the best event.
“I had a t-shirt on saying it was my 13th of the year and I think a lot of people were shocked when they saw that,” she said.
• Sammy Reeder
A Lowestoft mum, inspired by her brave daughter’s battle against a rare condition that affects just a handful of people worldwide, was cheered on all the way to the finish line.
Sammy Reeder tackled the London marathon in aid of a charity which helped her family through its darkest days, as she raised more than £2,500 for Genetic Disorders UK.
The 28-year-old, of Worthing Road, Lowestoft, completed the course in four hours 33 minutes, and said: “I am pleased with that, I was struggling with my knee, which nearly gave out before halfway. But the atmosphere and crowds were so amazing. I had my name on my top and everyone was shouting my name.”
Husband Richard and their four-year-old daughter Madeline, who spent the first three months of her life in hospital and, to date, has had 17 operations and more than 100 hospital appointments, were proud of Sammy’s achievements as she completed her first-ever marathon.