Suffolk and Essex runners among 40,000 taking part in London Marathon
PUBLISHED: 20:48 28 April 2019 | UPDATED: 22:36 28 April 2019
Hundreds of inspirational Suffolk and Essex runners conquered the London Marathon today, completing the infamous 26.2mile stretch across the capital.
From novices to elite, more than 40,000 competitors from across the country have been doing their bit for a wide range of charities.
Chris Rose, who ran the race to grant his late wife's last wish, finished his first ever marathon after learning to love running shortly before his wife was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer.
Speaking before the race Chris said: “I'm a mixture of excitement and sheer terror, but I know I will be a complete mess by the end.”
Chris' wife Angela died in February and her dream had always been to run the London Marathon – so the devoted husband had some of her ashes put into a wristband and the pair ran together one final time.
After completing the race in five hours, 40 minutes and 42 seconds and raising more than £6,841, Chris said: “I laughed, I cried and felt pain, but nothing like what my amazing wife had to endure.
“My son Jack just kept hugging me and saying well done, and then asked me was I going to drink beer.
“The support from others runners after reading my shirt about Angela was so emotional and the crowd, well they are the greatest in the world.
“I'm never going to forget this day.”
Ben Bradshaw, from Ipswich, bravely offered get the names of every donor who pledged £50 or more to his chosen charity tattooed on his body.
He was inspired to raise money for the Willow Foundation after they supported his family when his mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
“I'm running for them because when my mum was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2007, they sent us on a 'special day',” he said.
“We went to London to see Grease on the West End and went to Madame Tussaud's, stayed in an executive hotel suite and were chauffeured everywhere and they paid for it all.
“Mum died in 2008 so I ran for them in tribute to her.”
The 24-year-old completed the race in just over five hours, but his journey is not over yet – as he now has more than a dozen tattoos to book.
“It felt really emotional as I finished but I was overwhelmingly relieved that I could stop running, my feet were in agony,” he said.
“I've offered to tattoo the names of every donor who pledged £50 to the cause, in extra big letters if they gave £100. So far I've got about 17 names but the demand has increased somewhat this weekend.”
Misty Smith, who is a trustee of the Ipswich Deaf Society after growing up with two deaf parents, only began running in May last year.
She took part in Suffolk County Council's outreach programme which aimed to get more people moving.
After finishing the race in five hours and 27 minutes, the 35-year-old was over the moon and is even planning to sign up to the New York Marathon next.
She said: “It was absolutely fantastic, you have so many people cheering you on and that really keeps you going, especially in the final three miles when your calves feel like they are going.”
She has raised more than £1,300 which will be put towards making the charity's building more accessible for future families.
Kat Parnell, a sports massage therapist from Ipswich completed her fifth London Marathon and secured her personal best in just three hours, 25 minutes and 49 seconds.
After finishing the race she said: “I feel epic, the support around London is just incredible there is nothing better.
“I ran the race for fun this year but I went as hard and as fast as I could, I'm over the moon with my time.”
The 28-year-old, who is also a personal trainer, has been lucky to run four previous marathons in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018.
Donna Wright managed to tick another thing off her bucket list – running the London Marathon just weeks before her 40th birthday in June.
The mother-of-four said she found juggling the training with her manic work and home life tough, but has loved every second of it.
She said: “My time was five hours 11 minutes and I cried running through the finish line.
“It's an incredible experience, I loved it.”
Fiona Smith, a philosophy teacher at One Sixth Form College in Ipswich, initially took up running as part of a college project that challenged staff to run one hundred kilometres in a year in a bid to improve their health.
Clocking a time of around five and a half hours, the 39-year-old managed to raise £900 for the mental health charity Suffolk MIND.
She said: “It was brilliant – I'm really happy – it was a great experience. The highlight was seeing my family. They surprised me at about 23 miles – that was really cool and emotional.
“The support from everyone all the way around was amazing – it was like being at a party. I will be doing it again – I've got unfinished business and I've got to beat my time now.”
On choosing to help Suffolk MIND, she added: “I was lucky enough to get a place and I thought that it was a great charity to support.”
Experienced runner Daniel Clarke, from Ipswich, decided to take on the big race to raise money for the National Autistic Society.
The 33-year-old, who is part of Rushmere Community Runners, was excited to pass famous radio DJ Chris Evans at mile 16.
He completed the marathon in four hours, one minute and 58 seconds, at a pace of nine minutes, five seconds per mile.
He said: “I got into running to keep fit and socialise, and found it a great way to manage life's stresses.
“I decided to raise money for National Autistic Society as I've seen how my family and friends have been affected with autism with their children.
“We all know there is no cure for autism but together we can raise awareness and we can create a positive change for the future with increased support for families and early diagnoses, ensuring they live their lives to their full potential.”
Dianna Firbank, who works at Ipswich High School, ran her third London marathon for local charity St Elizabeth Hospice.
She managed the 26.2-mile trek in just four hours and 32 minutes.
“I did it,” she said,
“My third London marathon. Thank you to everyone who sponsored me and wished me well, St Elizabeth are a wonderful charity who I felt proud to run for.”
Jonathan Scott, from Framlingham, ran the race in four hours and 34 minutes – just four seconds slower than the time he clocked at the Berlin marathon over a decade ago in 2008.
He said: “I ran the London Marathon in memory of my best friend Stuart Smith and raised over £1,000 for the British Heart Foundation.”