Big Ben strikes again at TCS London Marathon as famous costume returns


By Quang Tran | Saturday 01 October 2022

A Big Ben costume that became a viral sensation at the 2019 London Marathon will be making another appearance at the iconic race on Sunday.

The clip of Lukas Bates struggling to get through the finish line due to the height of his Elizabeth Tower costume at the 2019 race became a big hit on social media and made headlines around the world.

Now, after the famous costume was saved by the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK, it is making another appearance at this year’s London Marathon as Simon Phillips, a GP from Dorset, takes on the challenge to run the 26.2 miles dressed as the landmark.

Simon, 44, is raising money for dementia research in memory of his dad, Robert, who died with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016.

The father-of-three said: “I ran the London Marathon in 2016 and loved it. I decided if I ever ran it again I would do it in a costume. I asked the team at Alzheimer’s Research UK for costume ideas and when they said they had the famous Big Ben costume I jumped at the chance to run in it.

“I’ve made a few adjustments mainly to make it more comfortable to wear and more stable, but I’ve also made it even bigger, adding a flagpole at the top!

“I’ve done some training runs in the costume, including wearing it at my local parkrun. I’ve also been practising bending in it to help me get across the finish line!

“I’m really looking forward to the day and I’m sure the crowd will love seeing the costume again. I’m also proud to be supporting Alzheimer’s Research UK again.

He added: “It was so sad to see the effect Alzheimer’s disease had on my father as he gradually deteriorated, losing his memory and mobility. As a GP I’m also constantly reminded of it, as I see a lot of patients at the same age he was who have similar symptoms.

“Research is the only way we are going to beat dementia. We desperately need new medications.”

To sponsor Simon go to

The original Big Ben runner, Lukas, ran the London Marathon in support of the Dementia Revolution campaign, the official charity partner for the 2019 race.

After the race, and his unforgettable run-in with the finish marker, he decided he did not want to take the costume home, so he left it outside a pub having agreed with the landlord that he would have it.

From there it was stolen and ended up being dumped in a large bin where it was found by a student, who claimed a reward of a £1,000 donation to Lukas’s fundraising from Piers Morgan.

The costume was then given to Alzheimer’s Research UK and has been on display at the charity’s office in Cambridgeshire ever since.

Lukas said: “It is amazing that the costume has survived. I’m delighted it is going to be used again, especially as it is again for such a worthy cause.

“I want to wish Simon the best of luck. I know how hard it is to run a marathon in it and also how difficult it is to get through the finish line!”

Julia Sobik, Head of Sporting Events at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “We are excited that the Big Ben costume is back and we can’t wait to cheer on Simon and all of our amazing runners around London on Sunday.

“The vital funds raised will help us power world-class studies to make life-changing breakthroughs for people with dementia that will keep them connected to their families, their worlds and themselves for longer. With news this week that treatments really are on the horizon, it’s never been more important to keep research moving forwards.”

For further information about Alzheimer’s Research UK, including how to apply for a 2023 London Marathon place with the charity, visit


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Quang Tran