On Sunday I was in the crowd supporting my daughter who was running her first ever marathon. Having run the London marathon previously, I knew that she was in for a treat, it's an amazing community event, with hundreds of thousands of Londoners and other visitors cheering on the mass participants - around 48,000 this year!
As a bystander this year, looking on and hearing all the stories, I was struck by how inclusive the event has become:
- The best and the greatest distance runners are there, Kelvin Kiptum finished in an incredible time of 2:01:25, posting the fastest time ever for the London marathon. The Women's elite race was won by Sifan Hassan, a former refugee who left Ethiopia at the age of 15 and moved to the Netherlands
- The event also celebrated the last person to cross the finish line. This year the accolade goes to the incredible Tom Durnin who was cheered on as he crossed the line after 8 hours.
- The British DJ, Adele Roberts, broke a world record for the fastest marathon, running with a stoma bag.
- The oldest participant was 90 year old David Picksley
- I saw a number of blind and partially sighted runners with the support of their guide runners. I also saw, a couple, David and Sandra Kerr, from County Down, pushing their son Aaron in an assisted wheelchair
- In addition I saw runners dressed up as dinosaurs, Blackpool Tower, the Patron Saint George, a refrigerator, running in a 3 carrying a large crown and one running with a surf board - the mind boggles!
It was truly inspiring and demonstrates that an event like the London Marathon is open to all, irrespective of who you are. Obviously it requires commitment, fitness and training to get through this immense challenge, but it has certainly cemented for me the power of sport in giving everyone an opportunity.
PS. I'll be going in to the ballot for next year's London marathon!