Suffolk and Essex: London Marathon joy for army of fundraisers

HUNDREDS of runners from Suffolk and Essex will be bathing their blisters today after completing the Virgin London Marathon.

An army of East Anglian fundraising enthusiasts took to the capital’s streets yesterday in the sweltering heat and raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for a host of worthy causes.

Among the total of 35,303 runners was the usual mix of elite athletes, celebrities and enthusiastic amateurs, dressed in an array of costumes.

Inspirational teenager Lara Pepper joined dozens of Suffolk residents to take on the 26.2mile task.

Lara, of Holbrook, went the extra mile for a charity close to her heart.

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When she was just 17 she was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis – an auto-immune disease which causes severe muscle weakness – and it left her unable to laugh or smile.

But Lara, now 19, couldn’t stop smiling after completing a challenge which she never thought she would tackle.

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She said: “I completed it in five hours and 15 minutes. I really enjoyed every minute of it – but I would never do it again!

“It was all going OK until about 17-mile mark and at that point I hit a bit of a wall.”

Ex-Woodbridge School pupil Ellen Wilton is also resting today, after completing the marathon in four hours and 14 minutes.

Running to raise funds for Whizz Kidz – a charity which supports disabled children – the 19-year-old said: “I felt incredibly good until the 16-mile mark.

“By the 23-mile mark, the crowd was really pushing me on and that was a great feeling.

Phil Green, of Stowmarket, told of his delight after raising money for Tommy’s, a charity that funds research into pregnancy problems.

Mr Green’s identical twin died at birth and he said it was a charity he instantly decided to support when he was allocated a place in the race.

“I completed it in four hours and six minutes,” he said. “I was looking to complete it in a quicker time but I think that everyone agreed that the heat slowed people down.

“One of my favourite parts was seeing all the people dressed in such a variety of costumes, that helped to keep my mind focused.”

Bev Pile, of Braintree, ran the marathon to raise about �2,000 for Farleigh Hospice which has centres in Chelmsford and Maldon.

She wanted to support the charity in recognition of the care it provided for her father Alan Ward, who died 12 years ago.

Meanwhile, Julie Abernethy, also 37, of Kesgrave, ran in aid of BLISS and parish nursing charities. She raised several hundred pounds and completed the challenge in about six hours. Simon Goldsmith, 37, of Little Bealings, recorded a time of four hours 39 minutes in full Elvis Presley attire. He raised more than �2,000 for the Alzeihmer’s Society.

Celebrities taking part included Olympic rowing champion James Cracknell, former Manchester United footballer Dwight Yorke and models Agyness Deyn, Nell McAndrew and Elen Rivas. It was also an event full of record-breakers, with an eclectic group of people taking advantage of the limelight to break an array of marathon records. Fastest times for a superhero, a cartoon character and a marching band were among the Guinness World Records broken.

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