Norwich runners ready to take on Virgin London Marathon challenge

Months of gruelling training will come to a head this weekend as runners from Norwich take part in this year's Virgin London Marathon.

Some 35,000 people are expected to pound the streets of London on Sunday as they make their way round the 26.2-mile course.

A number of the athletes will come from the city and surrounding areas. Some will be serious, experienced runners, but many others have entered the world-famous race just to complete it.

Among the celebrity runners taking part this year are BBC News presenters Susannah Reid and Sophie Raworth, former European and Commonwealth 400m champion Iwan Thomas, singer Will Young and Norwich's own celebrity chef and restaurant owner Tom Aikens.

Twice Olympic rowing champion James Cracknell, who suffered a near-fatal head injury while cycling across USA in 2010, will also be running.

The marathon is now in its 32nd year and in that time runners from all walks of life and every age group have raised more than half a billion pounds has been raised for hundreds of charities.

And as ever, Sunday promises a carnival atmosphere with huge numbers of spectators lining the route cheering on everyone from the elite athletes, to those in fancy dress, runners attempting to set records, or those just hoping to cross the finish line.

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Among those running is Iain Dempster who plans to complete the landmark-lined course while performing a dramatic reading from the works of Charles Dickens in order to raise money for the Alzheimer's Society.

The 61-year-old from St Stephens Road, Norwich, will be dressed in the traditional attire of a Victorian gentleman in a bid to raise funds for the Alzheimer's Society.

He said: 'This is, of course, the 200th anniversary of the birth of Dickens and I am quite confident that this has not been previously attempted.'

Meanwhile, Jon Kelf will run the London marathon for the fifth time in 10 years – but this time it will be his toughest yet after recovery from an operation to remove a tumour linked to the rare and incurable auto-immune disease Myasthenia Gravis (MG).

The 44-year-old, who lives off Dereham Road, said: 'Training has been a real struggle and I can run half a mile to a mile then have to walk.

'But however long it takes, I will finish it.'

Lee Glacken, 25, from Thorpe St Andrew, will be running in aid of Kidney Research UK as his partner, Katharine Marks, also 25, suffers from polycystic kidney disease (PKD).

Helen Mian, 44, of West Parade, Norwich, whose dad Malcolm Raymer was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease eight years ago, will join a team of 200-plus runners aiming to raise more than �300,000 for Parkinson's UK.

And brothers Alex, Jonathan and Duncan Scott, who were all brought up in Norwich, will be running in aid of Arthritis Research UK.

Alex, 30, who lives in Norwich, said: 'Arthritis Research UK is a charity close to our family's heart. Our father has worked closely with the charity for many years and we have seen what devastating impact the disease can have on people.

'With some friendly brotherly rivalry thrown in the mix, we are committed to raising as much money as we can and to run as fast as we can, but my money is on the youngest brother Duncan to reach the finishing line first.'

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