Marathon runners are all ready for the off

After months of gruelling training sessions, runners across the region are preparing to take part in this year's Virgin London Marathon.

On Sunday 40,000 people are expected to run, jog, walk and stagger across the finishing line of the world-famous race, which weaves its 26.2-mile course through the capital.

A number of the athletes will come from East Anglia. Some will be serious, experienced runners, but many others will be entering the race for the first time just hoping to complete it.

Among the celebrity runners taking part this year is Olympic and world rowing champion Matthew Pinsent, comedian Joe Pasquale and BBC newsreader Sophie Raworth.

The marathon is now in its 31st year and in that time runners from all walks of life and every age group have raised more than ��bn for charity.

There is a carnival atmosphere with huge numbers of spectators lining the route cheering on everyone from the elite athletes, to those in fancy dress, runners attempting to set records, or those just hoping to get round.

Among those running is 75-year-old Daphne Hathaway, who lives near Wroxham. She is tackling the course despite having terminal bone marrow cancer, which has left her bones so brittle that she will have to walk the distance. Mrs Hathaway is taking part in the marathon to raise money for research into Alzheimer's, as the condition has hit four of her close relatives in recent years.

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Mother-of-two Mandy Foyster, from Horsham St Faith, near Norwich, will not only be tackling the marathon but she is planning to get to the start line by running the 140 miles to the capital from her home village.

She set off on Monday from the Manor Road school where she works as a clerical assistant on the first 30-mile leg to South Lopham on the Norfolk/Suffolk border. A 16-mile run followed on Tuesday to Stowmarket and was followed by a 33-mile run to Earls Colne, Essex, yesterday. She is due to run 25-miles to Chelmsford today and 38-miles to Westminster Bridge in central London tomorrow. A day off on Saturday – giving her a chance to register for the race – will be followed by the marathon on Sunday. She hopes to raise �2,000 in sponsorship for both the school and the RNLI.

Ian Barber, from Beccles, will be taking part in his 28th London Marathon on his 66th birthday. He will be running in aid of Ringsfield Village Hall's refurbishment fund. Mr Barber's son-in-law, John Suter, 42, will be taking part for the first time and the pair will be cheered on by their family.

Kevin Revell, a Norwich IT manager and Simon Levy, a maths teacher at St Clement's High School in Downham Market, took part in the Paris Marathon last weekend and are running all the way to London – with a well-deserved rest on the ferry from Dieppe to Newhaven – in time to tackle the London Marathon.

The distance over eight days of running will be about 220 miles, breaking down as a marathon run every day. Kevin, 48, is raising money for the charity Whizz-kidz, which helps disabled children, while Simon, 29, is being sponsored for the British Heart Foundation, in memory of his grandparents, who died within a week of each other last year.

Josh Benham, 34, from Cringleford, near Norwich, is raising money for Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF). Mr Benham nearly died of meningitis when he was 18-years-old and a student at university.

TV cameraman Duncan Ayers, from Sheringham, hopes to raise �2,000 for the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) which helped his older brother, Simon, who lost the use of his legs, aged 31.

Hairdresser Tracy Fabb, from Stalham, is raising money for Faith, For Animals In Trouble There's Hope, at Hickling, to help its work rehoming and rehabilitating mistreated or unwanted animals.

Tim Lee, from Aylsham, who works at the City Academy in Norwich alongside students providing support for teenagers who face tough challenges, aims to raise more than �1,700 for YMCA England and YMCA Norfolk.

Matt and Cheryl Crisp, from Lowestoft, will be taking part to try to raise �1,500 for Breast Cancer Campaign. They are running in memory of Mrs Crisp's sister, Marie Kirby, who died from breast cancer at the age of 33 in 2001.

Claire Jennings, who works at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn, is raising funds for the Get Kids Going charity, which provides general and sports wheelchairs for disabled children to take part in sporting activities.

Amy Snelling and Kaline Valori, both from Blofield, are raising funds for the Norfolk and Waveney cancer charity Big C. Mrs Snelling was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma at the age of 14 and successfully underwent treatment to beat the disease. Mrs Valori was five-years-old when her mother, Larraine Hooker, died from cancer at the age of 34.

If you are taking part in the marathon let us know how you got on. Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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