Marathon brings out the best of British

TAKING part in the Flora London Marathon on Sunday made me proud for a number of reasons but, above all, it made me proud to be British. The London Marathon is one of the greatest sporting events on the planet and, as such, attracts worldwide attention. W

TAKING part in the Flora London Marathon on Sunday made me proud for a number of reasons but, above all, it made me proud to be British.

The London Marathon is one of the greatest sporting events on the planet and, as such, attracts worldwide attention.

We should be proud of the race organisers and officials, who ensure more than 35,000 runners, and thousands of spectators, are managed and catered for with aplomb, without fail, every year. The organisation of the event is second to none.

Then there are the runners, the majority of whom are British. For many, including me, it is achievement enough to complete the course and cross the finish line. For others, they have personal bests in mind, and for a handful there is a world record at stake.


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Everyone who takes part in the London Marathon has their own personal reason for doing so. For many it is to raise as much money as they can for their chosen charity.

According to the race organisers, it is now the largest annual fundraising event in the world, with a total of �315million raised for charity by runners since the marathon began in 1981. This is a monumental amount of money and illustrates humanity at its very best.

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On Sunday, I also witnessed the true grit and determination of people who refused to give up on their goal. Some were severely injured and clearly in a lot of pain. But runners, some with more than eight miles to go, hobbled and grimaced their way, slowly but surely, towards the finish line.

Some had to stop to be sick at the side of the road, probably due to the heat of the day, and others sought medical advice from St John Ambulance volunteers or paramedics.

But none that I saw gave up. They refused to be counted out of the race and showed the true strength of human spirit when it is really tested.

Finally, there are the spectators. Along with those runners who somehow manage to complete the course in elaborate fancy dress - I was overtaken by a rhino, an apple and a shower curtain - the spectators without doubt make the marathon the spectacular sporting event it is.

On Sunday, they lined the route, shouting encouragement to all who passed them, regardless of whether they knew the runners or not.

Many offered sweets, cakes and drinks to runners, and one lady had even made cheese sandwiches for those who had worked up an appetite.

The spectators were willing people towards the finish line, giving them all the support and encouragement they could muster.

It is the overwhelming camaraderie which leaves a lasting impression on all who take part in the London Marathon - not the broken records and the personal bests.

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