London gears up for Marathon

It is April and together with the showers Londoners will be gearing up for the annual test of stamina and endurance known as the London Marathon.

Sunday will see tens of thousands of runners pound the capital’s streets, cheered on by even more spectators as they raise tens of thousands of pounds for good causes. Last year hundreds of people from Newham were among the 36,500 entrants who did their bit and raised more than �60million in the process.

Celebrities will be joined by ordinary people from across the country on the 26.2 mile course that takes in many of the city’s best known landmarks.

Although last year’s winner, Emmanuel Mutai will be back defending his Virgin London Marathon men’s title, there is no doubt, once again, that it is charities and a whole host of good causes that will be the real winners.

Mutai smashed the course in 2011 when he won the race in two hours, four minutes and 40 seconds.

Kenya’s Mary Keitany will be defending her Virgin London Marathon title against many of the world’s leading runners including four fellow Kenyans, four Ethiopians and double London champion Irina Mikitenko.

This year’s route will take in the restored Cutty Sark although spectators, an essential part of the event for the support they provide runners, are urged to avoid the ship.

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A notable absence will be four times London Marathon champion Francesca Porcellato who has been forced to pull out of this year’s race with a back injury.

The 41-year-old Italian won the women’s wheelchair race every year from 2003 to 2006 and was hoping to make her first appearance in London for four years.

The race will start from Greenwich Park, go through east London and finish on the Mall.

There will be regular pitstops to provide competitors with drinks and allow them to use the toilet throughout the route which will also be marked with distance markers and clocks showing the race running time based on the official Start Time.

On their way to the race start runners will be able to travel free on the London Underground and the Docklands Light Railway although there will be planned tube closures on the day. For more information log on to or call (020) 7363 9700.

Councillor John Gray from Newham, who took part in his first London Marathon in 2002, will be among the runners.

He said: “It will be 10 years since my first (and only) marathon. I have now obviously forgotten the agony and pain. Certainly the promise - never, ever to even think of running one again. This time I will be raising funds for “Alone in London”.

This is an important youth homelessness charity that has been supporting young people since 1972. It provides a badly needed range of services to vulnerable young people across London who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Last year they supported over 2000 such youngsters. I suspect with the continuing housing crisis and changes in benefits this demand will grow and grow.”