Runners from Suffolk and north Essex conquer London Marathon in record high temperatures
- Credit: Archant
A host of inspirational Suffolk and north Essex residents conquered the London Marathon today in conditions that certainly weren’t for the faint-hearted.
More than 40,000 runners took part in the world-famous race, which saw competitors brave record high temperatures as they took on the gruelling 26.2-mile course.
Janine Simpson, 46, from Colchester, completed her 100th marathon after catching the running bug a decade ago.
After the birth of her daughter two years ago, Mrs Simpson set her sights on her 100 marathon goal – picking up the pace to finish 78 in the last two years. Despite the record heat, she made it across the finish line in London in five hours and four minutes.
Mrs Simpson said while the whole race was somewhat of a struggle, the last mile gave her a real boost – especially as she caught glimpses of friends and drew within minutes of achieving her goal.
“There were a few tears in the last mile,” she said.
Mrs Simpson, who is a director of customer engagement at Royal Mail, said she was thrilled to have raised over £8,000 for the company’s corporate charity, Action for Children.
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The final total will be doubled by Royal Mail – totalling something in the region of £18,000 for the charity’s Blues Programme, supporting children with mental health problems.
When asked what she had planned in celebration, Mrs Simpson said she was looking forward to her charity reception and medal presentation for the 100 Marathon Club.
Suffolk firefighter Dale Mason crossed the line with a time of six hours and 56 minutes.
He was wearing full kit and breathing apparatus and finished the race for the Mind Blue Light appeal, in memory of his colleague Tony Bickers.
A Colchester mother living with an incurable brain tumour ran the marathon for her son, who has battled a rare form of eye cancer.
Despite having monthly doses of chemotherapy, Gemma Edgar continued to train three to four times a week in preparation for the race.
The 32-year-old said completing the marathon was on her bucket list.
“I have never known pain like it,” Mrs Edgar said.
“Mile 16 was when I started hurting, but other runners encouraged me to keep going. It was probably about mile 22 that I thought I’ll probably need to walk the rest of this.”
Despite her fatigue, Mrs Edgar kept up a jog for much of the last leg.
She added that the crowd was “just incredible”, with people calling out her name from the sidelines.
“It was like nothing I have ever experienced,” she said.
“I really appreciate that I am well enough to do it. I am so lucky. I do feel proud of myself.”
Mrs Edgar has so far raised almost £5,000 for her charity, Childhood Eye Cancer Trust.
Billy Pryke, 31, from Ipswich, conquered the course in a respectable three hours and 48 minutes. He was running in memory of his first dog, Reggie, who received pioneering heart surgery at a London animal hospital.
Mr Pryke said the realisation of the challenge in the extraordinary heat set in once the runners crossed the starting line.
“My plan was to take it easy,” he said. “I got to about the 15 and 18 mile marks and I saw myself hitting a wall. I just had to aim for the next water station.”
Mr Pryke hit his target – raising an impressive £1,100 for Animal Care Trust, with more donations yet to come in.
He said he was looking forward to enjoying a relaxing evening with his partner and son – but it was back to work as normal on Tuesday.
Former army officer Lizzie Rosewell, 39, from Kedington, made London’s staple race her 15th marathon in 15 days.
She managed to make it across the finish line after five hours and three minutes in the scorching heat.
“Amazingly, it went a lot better than I expected,” Mrs Rosewell said.
She added that, after spending two weeks running marathons on her own, sharing the experience with others was invaluable.
“From about mile 22 the crowd was so amazing. It gave me such a lift,” she said.
“Crossing the finish line was a really emotional moment.”
Mrs Rosewell was proud to raise over £3,000 for the Army Benevolent Fund.
Despite a history of chronic back pain and a stress-fractured hip, Juliet Hanka, 49, from Bury St Edmunds, completed the marathon alongside her 18-year-old daughter, Gigi Ergardt.
The pair raised almost £2,500 for Ormiston Families.
Having finished the marathon in just over five hours, Ms Hanka said: “It was hard, but I did it, and what a mighty achievement.
My daughter was amazing – she smashed it in under four hours. I’m so proud of her. I said no one and nothing was going to stop me from reaching the finish line – and it didn’t.”
Martin Jarvis, deputy headteacher at St Helen’s Primary School in Ipswich, made it across the finish line in four hours and 31 minutes.
“It was touch and go,” he said.
“The first 16 miles were very good, the last 10 miles were brutal.”
Mr Jarvis also hugely appreciated the support of the crowd that kept the runners on track from start to finish.
“The noise is unbelievable,” he added.
“Going across Tower Bridge you can hardly hear yourself think. It was a wonderful atmosphere.”
One particularly resilient runner, Mac Speake, was one of only 11 ‘Ever-Presents’ at the race – having successfully completed 37 previous London Marathons.
The 76-year-old completed this year’s race in seven hours and 10 minutes.
The Kettlebaston-based former doctor was in the field for the inaugural London Marathon, in 1981, when 7,741 runners entered and 6,255 finished.
Mr Speake has not missed a year since, despite often having to overcome injuries to make the starting line-up.
Mr Speake’s oldest son, William Speake, was also in action. He crossed the finish line in a very respectable three hours and four minutes.