Million milestone for London Marathon

FROM athletes running Rio 2016 qualifying times to those that choose to run 26.2 miles dressed as dinosaurs. The vast diversity of all runners in the London Marathon are what makes it a truly uniting event for all to watch as it took to the roads of London on April 24th.

Having begun as mere chit-chat in Richmond’s Dysart Arms, the dreams of the Ranelagh Harriers bringing the New York Marathon to London became a reality in Spring of 1981. Enticed by the mass spectatorship, famous sights and uniting of all runners in New York; co-founders John Disley and Chris Brasher locked down a £75,000 sponsorship with Gillette and pulled the trigger for the first 7,747 runners of the London Marathon.

The one-millionth runner has now crossed the marathon finish line, with a record number of 39,140 people finishing in 2016. This year marks a particularly important marathon as it doubled up as an Olympic trial race and saw Scottish brothers Callum and Derek Hawkins, as well as Alyson Dixon and Sonia Samuels secure their places on the flight to Rio. Not only are the Hawkins brothers going to be running in Rio representing Team GB, but Leeds can be proud to claim Derek Hawkins as one of the home-grown athletes from Leeds City Athletics Club. Leeds can definitely boast the talents of world-class sibling athletes – the Brownlees and now the up-and-coming Hawkins brothers.

British patriotism has reached a new level as astronaut Tim Peake took to the marathon in a slightly different style as he ran 26.2 miles on a treadmill whilst orbiting the earth two-and-a-half times at an altitude of 400km. Peake managed to secure his name in the Guinness Book of World Records as he outran fellow space runner Sunita Williams’ marathon time by 49 minutes.

Back down to earth, Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya managed to retain his men’s title running the second quickest time in history. His 2:03:05 finish meant he crossed the line just 7 seconds later than the world record. Jemima Sumgong, of Kenya also, didn’t have quite as smooth a race as she had hoped for as she suffered a dramatic fall, after colliding with fellow runner Aselefesh Mergia. Despite a minor head injury and cuts to her head and shoulder, she managed to close the 30m gap with only Ethiopian Mestawet Tufa to take on in the final moments and take the glory.

David Weir was denied a record seventh London Marathon title as Marcel Hug of Switzerland managed to take the title in a tense sprint finish in the men’s elite wheelchair race. He boasts his second London win in a time of 1:35:19 whilst the ‘Weirwolf’ claimed a third-position finish. Despite missing out on the gold medal this year, Weir promised thar ‘I still feel I have more to give and I’ll be back next year’. Tatyana McFadden of the USA won the women’s race for the fourth consecutive year with a time of 1:44:14 whilst, sadly, Britain’s Shelly Woods had to pull out with a puncture for the second consecutive year.

The Gryphon’s very own Hannah Tomes also made an appearance, ensuring that Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham was proudly represented at the event, and will be running the Leeds Half Marathon on May 8th. The London Marathon is over for another year, but here’s to even more sibling success, flamboyant fancy dress and British prosperity in 2017.

Zoë Thresher 

Featured image: Sash Charity 

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