Norfolk and Suffolk runners ready to tackle the Virgin London Marathon

Months of gruelling training will come to a head this weekend as runners from across the region take part in this year's Virgin London Marathon.

Some 35,000 people are expected to pound the streets of London on Sunday as they make their way round the 26.2-mile course.

Hundreds will come from Norfolk and north Suffolk with an estimated 262 runners from Norwich, 39 from King's Lynn, 14 from Dereham, three from Cromer and 33 from Great Yarmouth, according to the organisers.

Some will be serious, experienced runners, but many others have entered the world-famous race for the first time and just hope to complete it.

Among the celebrity runners taking part this year are BBC News presenters Susannah Reid and Sophie Raworth, former European and Commonwealth 400m champion Iwan Thomas, singer Will Young and Norwich's own celebrity chef and restaurant owner Tom Aikens.


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Twice Olympic rowing champion James Cracknell, who suffered a near-fatal head injury while cycling across the USA in 2010, will also be running.

The marathon is now in its 32nd year and in that time runners from all walks of life and every age group have raised more than half a billion pounds for hundreds of charities.

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And as ever, Sunday promises 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 cross the finish line.

Among those running is Dereham's former serviceman Craig Richardson, who lost half his leg in an explosion in Afghanistan.

The 25-year-old, who is part of a team raising money for the Norwich Community Sports Foundation, will be running with a prosthetic leg.

He said: 'Now it's days away and I'm seeing more of the run on the internet or newspapers, it really has hit home how much of a challenge this is.

'Naturally I am getting nervous and even more so when Saturday comes and I am in the Excel Centre getting my registration number.

'I am very much looking forward to not worrying about running for a few weeks at least afterwards.'

Iain Dempster (pictured right) plans to complete the landmark-lined course while performing a dramatic reading from the works of Charles Dickens in order to raise money for the Alzheimer's Society.

The 61-year-old from St Stephens Road, Norwich, will be dressed in the traditional attire of a Victorian gentleman in a bid to raise funds for the Alzheimer's Society.

He said: 'This is, of course, the 200th anniversary of the birth of Dickens and I am quite confident that this has not been previously attempted.'

Meanwhile, tanker driver Ian Kennedy will be proving life begins at 50 when he takes part in the London marathon to raise money for charity Breast Cancer Campaign.

The father-of three, of Cake Street, Laxfield, has been motivated to complete the gruelling 26 mile course by the fight put up by his mother-in-law Gloria Moore and sister-in-law Diane Payne, 48, after being diagnosed with the disease. Mrs Moore died five years ago, but his sister-in-law is recovering well from the condition.

Sarah Woodrow, 47, from High Kelling, is among six people running the race on Sunday in aid of Sheringham-based charity Break.

North Walsham businessman Charlie Dyke, his daughter Vicky Harmer and her husband Russell are in training for the April 22 event, in memory of Mr Dyke's sister Helen Plummer, who died in 2006.

Last year Mr Dyke – who owns convenience stores on the town's Mundesley, Happisburgh and Station Roads – and his daughter ran their first London Marathon and raised more than �10,000.

They are hoping that this year's effort will put another �10,000 in the Helen Plummer Cancer Charity Fund pot, boosting the total to more than �50,000 since Mrs Plummer launched the breast cancer appeal in 2005.

And Lee Glacken, 25, from Thorpe St Andrew, will be running in aid of Kidney Research UK as his partner, Katharine Marks, also 25, suffers from polycystic kidney disease (PKD).Also taking part will be Warren Sparkes, 40, from Caister, James Paget University Hospital nurse Cathy Tooley, Jo Bristow from Watton, Jon de Gray from Surlingham, anorexia survivor Harriet Smith from King's Lynn, Hannah Clay from the Golden Triangle area of Norwich, Ronnie Blyth, from Bradwell, near Great Yarmouth, Mark Fitch from Norwich, Chris Balding from North Walsham, and Richard Anderson from Norwich.

The Rev Philip Young, vicar of St Thomas' Church in Edinburgh Road, off Earlham Road in Norwich, will be running in aid of Water Aid and Helen Mian, 44, of West Parade, Norwich, whose father Malcolm Raymer was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease eight years ago, will join a team of 200-plus runners aiming to raise more than �300,000 for Parkinson's UK.

One Norfolk couple will be running to raise money for the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT).

Stephen and Kirsty Poundall, from Hethersett, have been inspired to complete the 26-mile course after optometrist Mr Poundall met representatives from the charity. They offered the chance to take part in the race through golden bond places awarded to the charity.

The couple have two children, Anya, nine and Kieran, five, which gave them an appreciation of the work done by the CHECT, which supports families of children diagnosed with a retinoblastoma (eye cancer).

Callum Stanforth, 21, from Pot Row, near King's Lynn, is running the marathon to raise money for King's Lynn-based PALMS.

The charity supports past and present residents of care homes and the mentally ill with grants, days out, holidays and help with their health.

He has already smashed his fundraising target of �850 thanks to a donation of �1,000 from East Winch-based insurance broker Adrian Flux.

The 21-year-old, who plays football for Gayton, said: 'The donation meant the pressure was off and I could concentrate on my training and not worry, although I'm obviously still trying to raise as much as possible.'

Rachel Richardson, who works at Heacham Manor Hotel and lives in the west Norfolk village, is preparing for her first marathon.

She said: 'How am I feeling? Absolutely terrified but extremely excited. With mileage under my belt and no injuries – touch wood – I am praying for a cloudy cool day and the atmosphere of the crowd to see me through to the finishing line when those last few miles get tough.'

So far she has raised �346 for The Norfolk Hospice. The charity supports more than 280 people every month at its current hospice in Snettisham and has the support of 250 volunteers as well as paid staff.

Waveney runners Mark Thomas, Chantelle Savage, Ben Le Compte and Amanda Humphry will also be stepping up to the start line on Sunday morning.

Mr Le Compte, 30, from Carlton Colville, will be running in memory of Lowestoft teenager Taylor High who died in a crash on the A17 in west Norfolk in March last year.

Funds raised will go to the Taylor High Memorial Fund. Mr Le Compte said: 'Taylor was my wife Lucy's cousin and I saw how his death affected everyone around him.

'I ran the marathon three years ago and wanted to better my time of three hours 50 minutes, so this is the perfect opportunity to beat my time and do something for the fund that is so close to my heart.'

Lowestoft man Richie Reeder is running the marathon in support of a charity that helped his daughter who was born with an extremely rare chromosome disorder.

Mr Reeder, 30, of Worthing Road, will be running to raise funds for Unique, which provided help and advice after the birth of Madeline in March 2010.

Because of her chromosome disorder Madeline was born weighing 4lb and 4oz, spent three months in intensive care at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and had to have two life-saving operations.

Send your photos and videos from the Virgin London Marathon to www.iwitness24.co.uk. See Monday's EDP to find out how the runners got on.

kate.scotter@archant.co.uk

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