Some smiled, others cried and many were grimacing in pain, but whether they ran, walked or staggered across the finish line they could all be equally proud of their incredible achievements.
There were emotional scenes at the end of the first Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon in York yesterday as more than 6,000 runners celebrated completing the gruelling 26.2-mile course.
Elated friends and colleagues threw their arms around one another while couples held hands and kissed as they crossed the finish line together after hours of running.
What began as a crisp, sunny morning was threatened by some light drizzle as the participants took their marks at the starting line at the University of York.
But the sky soon cleared, giving way to warm sunshine that showed off the city and its surrounding countryside in all their glory to the spectators who stood waiting along a route that took in some of its finest sights.
The first two mile took runners from the university to the ancient heart of York through Walmgate, the most complete of the four main medieval gateways to the city.
Family, friends and well-wishers lined the streets, waving banners and inflatable batons and shouting encouragement as they ran on to the Minster.
The bells rang out as the runners passed the imposing Gothic cathedral.
Among the crowds gathered outside was Helen Galloway, 39, who was cheering on her brother Peter Downes, 51, with his wife Michelle, 50.
He was raising money for St Leonard’s Hospice in York – one of the event’s official partner charities – where Ms Galloway works as a nurse.
Her boss, Emma Johnson, was also running.
Ms Galloway said: “The atmosphere has been fantastic, especially with the sun coming out at last.
“Everyone was clapping and cheering and the runners were all thanking us. Everyone was in really good spirits.”
Mrs Downes added: “It was electric. There were a lot of smiles.”
Mr Downes was hoping to complete the race – his first marathon – in three and a half hours. “He was certainly up there with the front-runners,” said his sister.
“We’ve got more family along the route to throw him jelly babies so he’ll be fine.”
Elaine Cooper, 44, from Darlington, was also in the city centre cheering on her friend Joanne Todd with Ms Todd’s 15-year-old daughter, Anna Wilson.
“I think it’s great that it’s all in the name of Jane Tomlinson,” she said.
“The atmosphere around the Minster was fantastic. It was great to see so many people out.”
After the two-mile marker at Monk Bar the route headed out of the city and over the A64 to the village of Stockton on the Forest.
Runners then pounded country lanes on their way to the villages of Upper Helmsley and Sand Hutton before reaching the halfway point just before Stamford Bridge.
Residents of the famous battle site were out in force, with many lining the roads and others cheering from their doorsteps.
From there it was on to the villages of Holtby and Murton before crossing the A64 again and heading through the parish of Osbaldwick and the Tang Hall suburb where the finish line back at the university began to beckon.
One by one, weary but determined, they crossed it, some punching the air with joy, others ashen-faced and stumbling.
But they could all agree it had been worth it.
Many were already pledging to sign up for next year’s event, which takes place on Sunday, October 12.
Entries open on Monday January 5 but people can register now for exclusive access to a priority presale on Friday, January 3.
The hashtag #yorkmara trended on Twitter yesterday – meaning it was one of the most talked-about topics on the microblogging website.
Becky Farrell tweeted: “Blood, sweat & tears shed but I did it! 4hr59 of torture, can hardly walk but proud to have finished.” Jamie Ball wrote: “Loved running the @RunYorkshire marathon, a lovely route.
“Great to finally run in my home town.”