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TWENTY-SEVEN started and 27 finished when Stevenage-based Fairlands Valley Spartans took on the London Marathon. First home was Graham Blackburn who came 1,514th in a time of 3:06:23. Dodging Masai warriors, chain gangs and oversized clowns, the second Sp

TWENTY-SEVEN started and 27 finished when Stevenage-based Fairlands Valley Spartans took on the London Marathon.

First home was Graham Blackburn who came 1,514th in a time of 3:06:23.

Dodging Masai warriors, chain gangs and oversized clowns, the second Spartan was Jim Brown (1,860th in 3:10:24) and third was Annette Bell who ran her first marathon in 3:22:30.

Altogether seven Spartans were running their first 26.2 miles. The other six were Andy Garrett (3:34:54), Sara O'Callaghan (3:58:23), Mark Goodwin (4:07:48), Tricia Hopper (4:32:57), Christine Feely (4:40:50) and Sam Smeeton (5:02:15).

Four Spartans ran new personal bests including Richard Sidlin who achieved a huge 72-minute improvement with his time of 3:29:02. The others were Chris Leigh (3:46:01), Alison Suckling (4:21:52) and Doug Hall (4:51:59).

New season's bests were run by Roger Biggs (3:29:37), Kevin Lawlor (4:23:02) and Andrew Hull (4:25:23).

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The oldest Spartan finisher was Vet 75 Ron Cohen in 5:01:22.

Some of the less fortunate included Tony Willson who twisted his ankle on a water bottle only three miles into the race - he walked most of the rest of the way but ended with one ankle looking three times the size of the other - and Ian Collier who pulled a calf muscle at 15 miles but decided to struggle on rather than pull out and still finished.

Other successful Spartans were Simon Owens (3:23:00), Todd Gray (3:46:22), Steve Mills (3:48:53), David Clarke (3:55:01), Nick Stewart (4:07:22), Kerry James (4:09:04), Carol Paul (4:24:26) and Julie Goodwin (4:40:49).