Over 50 inspirational runners from across the UK and as far away as South Africa took part in the Virgin London Marathon on Sunday 22 April to raise desperately needed funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK. With bright skies and a chill in the air, the weather conditions were perfect as they set off for the 32nd London Marathon.
They joined over 37,500 people pounding the capital’s streets and ran alongside fun runners, amateur athletes, elite sportsmen and women as well as a host of celebrities. With wonderful London sights, sounds and colours along the way, they found themselves surrounded by many interesting characters - rhinos, tigers, Wombles and even a man running as a 24ft Blackpool Tower!
Each of our amazing runners has a very personal story to tell and among them were Chris Robson, 73 and his wife Charm, 72. They travelled from Cumbria to take part in the marathon to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary and as a tribute to Chris’s mother Honour who died with Alzheimer’s disease. Having attracted much media attention in the lead up to the race, they had no time to worry about completing the 26.2 mile course.
East Sussex runner Susie Hewer, 54, known as the Extreme Knitting Redhead, was also there. This was Susie’s 25th marathon for Alzheimer’s Research UK and she ran in memory of her mum Peggy who died with vascular dementia. Susie left her knitting needles at home this year to concentrate on improving her running time.
Family man Gary Collins, 46, from Bradford ran the Virgin London Marathon for the first time. He was spurred on by thoughts of his dad Frank who died with Alzheimer’s disease last year - he was only 69.
Busy Surrey mum Philippa Elwell, 40, completed the gruelling course for her dad Tony who has early-onset Alzheimer’s. He was diagnosed six years ago at just 63. He now needs 24-hour attention in a care home and doesn’t recognise the family any more.
Miranda Mays, Community Fundraising Manager for Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“Our brilliant Virgin London Marathon runners have put in months of training and preparation and it was a fantastic day. We can’t thank them enough for taking on this huge challenge to help us defeat Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
“Last year our runners raised nearly £90,000, which is incredible - enough to pay for three pioneering dementia research projects. Every £20 raised this year will pay for another vital hour of research, bringing us closer to finding ways to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure dementia.
“There are 820,000 people across the UK living with dementia today, with numbers forecast to rise substantially in the next generation. Dementia can only be defeated through research but funding still lags far behind other serious diseases. We rely entirely on our wonderful supporters to fund our world-class research.”