Thousands take part in London marathon after countdown from space

Kenyan runners dominate elite race while Major Tim Peake clocks his own record aboard the international space station

Almost 40,000 people ran in the 2016 London marathon, setting off from Greenwich Park in south-east London after a countdown from Major Tim Peake in space.

The British astronaut, who took part in the 26.2-mile challenge on a treadmill aboard the International Space Station, broke the record for the fastest marathon in orbit at 3hr 35min 21sec.

The giants of marathon running were back in the UK capital on Sunday, with Eliud Kipchoge from Kenya winning the men’s elite race and clocking the second fastest marathon time in history, 2hr 3min 5 sec – just eight seconds outside the world record. His compatriot Stanley Biwott ran a personal best in finishing second in 2hr 3min 51sec.

British astronaut Tim Peake celebrates after completing his marathon aboard the international space station.
British astronaut Tim Peake celebrates after completing his marathon aboard the International Space Station. Photograph: Henning Kaiser/EPA

In the elite women’s race, another Kenyan, Jemima Sumgong , grazed her head on the road yet recovered from the fall to take her first London title in 2hr 22min 58sec.

Marcel Hug, of Switzerland, won the men’s wheelchair race, ahead of Britain’s Paralympic champion David Weir in third, while American Tatyana McFadden won the women’s race for a fourth consecutive year.

Prince Harry, patron of the London Marathon Charitable Trust, presented the winners’ prizes.

A runner dressed as a stormtrooper from Star Wars runs in the marathon.
A runner dressed as a stormtrooper from Star Wars runs in the marathon. Photograph: Joel Ford/Getty Images

Meanwhile, one lucky runner will have become the millionth finisher in the history of the race, which was first held in 1981. Their identity will be revealed in May and they will also enter the record books.

The race’s fun runners included competitors dressed as hotdogs, bananas, dinosaurs and superheroes. There were four Shakespeares registered to run, 400 years since the bard’s death.

The oldest runner was 88-year-old Iva Barr, who has been running marathons for about 30 years and took part in the first race in 1981. One participant, Christopher Barton, proposed to his girlfriend at Tower Bridge according to the BBC.

The TV and radio presenter Chris Evans and Natalie Dormer, the British actor who stars in Game of Thrones, were among the celebrity runners. Former footballer Danny Mills and Dame Kelly Holmes, a double Olympic gold medallist over much shorter distances, also took part.

Prince Harry with Eliud Kipchoge and Jemima Sumgong after they won the men’s and women’s races.
Prince Harry with Eliud Kipchoge and Jemima Sumgong after they won the men’s and women’s races. Photograph: Karwai Tang/WireImage

Marc Thorpe, with his medal around his neck, told the Guardian he had recorded a time of 2hr 45min. He said: “I feel amazing and tired – 2:45 puts me at championship time and I am over the moon. It’s my fourth time and it’s a tradition now.”

Another runner, Lawrence, leaning against a giant beer bottle suit after clocking 3hr 53min, said: “Wearing this was the most amazing cheer machine – I got cheered everywhere I went.”

“I feel dead but I’ll be having a few of these,” he said, tapping the bottle.

At the 25-mile point, throngs of spectators overlooking the Thames, the London Eye and Big Ben clock tower, wearing furry ears, banging inflatable batons together and holding balloons, cheered each runner as they went by.

Am at Embankment pier, where spectators still cheering runners on #LondonMarathon

— Aisha S Gani (@aishagani) April 24, 2016

Mukhtar Farah, 18, said: “I was here during the mini-marathon and was watching my team-mate run for a local club. And when they ran past it was quite good. Everyone was cheering and that made me want to run. I am sure I will run in the marathon one day. Seeing everyone finish was amazing. The smile on people’s face saying: I’ve done it. That was the best part.”

Catherine Miles, the fundraising director at the cancer charity Antony Nolan, said: “Hopefully we’ll raise over £600,000 and have over 255 runners. It’s been fantastic and we’ve been watching Paralympic athletes come through and leading women just run past at a rapid rate.

“For us, we have a lot of people who run in memory of someone who they have lost and it’s a hugely personal event and honour to be a part of it. It’s a fantastic fundraising day and celebration in London.”

Janice Walker made the trip to London with her family to watch her husband Paul, 50, run for the Prince’s Trust and raise £3,500. “He was quite nervous but excited and had my homemade granola for breakfast and took some with him. He wanted to be at the New York marathon last year but got injured. He applied for London this year and got in. We’re all meeting at the celebration point and then having dinner at the Savoy.”

A runner receives support from the crowd as he passes Big Ben.
A runner receives support from the crowd as he passes parliament. Photograph: Joel Ford/Getty Images

Janet Bartholomew, wearing furry animal ears on her head, told the Guardian she was supporting the RSPCA: “We have a team of 45 and we’ve been here since 10.30. I’ve donned my ears and it’s a great community feel. We’ve got elite athletes and will have the fun runners come through and we’re cheering for everyone.” The charity is hoping to raise £40,000.

Rachel, from Clic Sargent, the children’s cancer charity, said: “We’ve had people at cheering points from 5:30am and have over 230 runners. We have two members of the fundraising team running and a lot of people running in support of someone with cancer or in memory.It’s been amazing and marathon days have always been great.”

There were road closures throughout London, with much of the race following the course of the river Thames.


Aisha Gani

The GuardianTramp

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