Thousands of weary runners will be nursing aching muscles today but if any reminder is needed as to why the physical torment of completing the London Marathon is worth the pain, then a £1bn fundraising milestone is a powerful one.
That is how much the participants of the UK’s biggest running event have now raised since it was first held in 1981, as yesterday’s exertions through the capital’s streets took the total into ten figures.
More than 40,000 runners took on the 26.2-mile route through central London and over the River Thames for the 2019 edition after months of training, including many from Yorkshire.
Among them was electrical engineer Gary Taylor, 46, of Halifax, who before the race told of how he planned to line up wearing a specialist backpack and feeding pump to constantly deliver a blend of nutrients, water and electrolytes to his stomach.
Mr Taylor, who relies on a feeding tube in his stomach to eat and drink after the discovery of a rare neck tumour prompted invasive surgery, completed the route in just under four hours.
It was a record-breaking run for James Cook, a 43-year-old father-of-two from Leeds, who crossed the finish line in four hours and 46 minutes to become the fastest male runner to complete the event dressed as a knight on a dragon. In doing so, Mr Cook, whose daughter Ivy, 10, has rare skin condition Lamellar Ichthyosis, raised more than £1,200 to be split between Macmillan Cancer Support and the IchthyosisSupport Group.
Five runners representing the National Farmers’ Union included Adam Bedford, the union’s York-based regional director. By the time Mr Bedford crossed the line in four hours and 26 minutes, the team had raised over £20,000 for Farm Africa, a charity which supports agriculture in eastern Africa, and the total is set be doubled by UK Government match-funding.
Mr Bedford said: “It’s been really great. There were crowds everywhere willing you on. I had my phone with me and in the age of social media, people really push you round from all over the country.”
Matt Dugdale, a Filey business owner, took part and raised more than £4,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust in honour of his best friend’s son Oakley who has the condition, while Alan Clough, 31, from Keighley raised over £2,300 for children’s medical research charity Sparks because his daughter Amelia, aged six, has congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare disease which means she is has to be accompanied by an adult at all times.
Former Leeds model Nell McAndrew, 45, ran for the marathon’s charity of the year, Dementia Revolution, a partnership of the Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK. She hailed spectators’ “incredible” support after crossing the line in three hours and 15 minutes, adding: “It was tough but I’m happy and proud.”
Dementia Revolution was also backed by a team running for actress Dame Barbara Windsor, 81, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014. Her husband, Scott Mitchell, and EastEnders cast members, raised £100,000 ahead of the race.
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, the marathon’s main sponsor, said it had been “beautifully organised”, adding: “It’s so amazing to have raised the big £1bn.”