Norfolk runners complete Virgin London Marathon

Runners from across Norfolk were among thousands who inspired millions today (Sunday) and completed the 32nd London marathon.

An estimated 37,500 fun runners, amateur athletes, celebrities and elite sportsmen and women took part in the Virgin London Marathon.

While the elite race was dominated by Kenya's Wilson Kipsang and Mary Keitany, runners from across the county took their own piece of personal pride home.

Among those who completed the 26.2 mile course was Craig Richardson, a former RAF Regiment aircraftman from Dereham, who lost half his leg in an explosion in Afghanistan in 2008.

The 25-year-old finished in five hours and 46 minutes and won the respect of thousand upon thousand of fellow runners and spectators.

He said: 'The whole thing was amazing. People looked at my leg and then looked at me and it was really nice because people I didn't know were saying 'Well done.''

Mr Richardson ran as part of the Community Sports Foundation's fundraising team, Team Norwich City. All eight members of the team, who raised nearly �25,000 for the CSF's Sporting Light Appeal, completed the marathon.

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First over the line was Norwich City chief executive David McNally who achieved a personal best, completing his third marathon in three hours 40 minutes and 38 seconds - 12 minutes quicker than his previous best time.

Other team members were Canaries legend Iwan Roberts, EDP editor Peter Waters, BBC Radio Norfolk presenter Stephen Bumfrey, CSF director Ian Thornton, Norwich City fan Helen Southgate and Carrow Road chef Martin Colley.

Dan Wynne, from the charity, said: 'It's an unbelievable achievement and for them to raise nearly �25,000 for us is fantastic.

'It's not just about the marathon today but the months of preparation to get into shape for the day. For them to take that kind of commitment for the charity and for disadvantaged and disabled people across Norfolk is what the Sporting Light appeal is all about and we are fantastically grateful. We couldn't have asked for a better team.'

Meanwhile, it was an emotional day for Jon Kelf. The 44-year-old's fifth marathon in 10 years proved to be his toughest yet after recovering from an operation to remove a tumour linked to the rare and incurable auto-immune disease Myasthenia Gravis (MG).

The engineer, who lives near Dereham Road in Norwich and finished in four hours, 54 minutes and 30 seconds, said: 'It was fantastic. I was hoping to finish in under five hours and it was touch and go at one stage but I got a second wind and went for it in the last five or six miles.

'In some ways it was my hardest but most enjoyable. The atmosphere was superb and given what I've been through in the last two years, to finish is incredible. It was quite emotional really.'

Norwich's Iain Dempster completed the landmark-lined course while performing a dramatic reading from the works of Charles Dickens in aid of the Alzheimer's Society.

The 61-year-old from St Stephens Road in the city was dressed in the traditional attire of a Victorian gentleman as he helped mark the 200th anniversary.

He completed the marathon in seven hours, 41 minutes and 35 seconds. The retired teacher, who has previously run several marathons and has this time raised between �2,500 and �3,000, said: 'I had a great day. The crowds were just brilliant and incredibly supportive.

'I've not quite thought what to do next time.'

Ian Hacon, 43, from Gorleston, ran his third marathon in aid of East Anglia's Children's Hospices (Each) and the Great Yarmouth and Waveney branch of Mind.

Lowestoft runner Richie Reeder completed the marathon in just under five and a half hours in aid of his daughter Madeline, who was born in March 2010 with a very rare chromosome disorder, and Ben Le Compte from Carlton Colville finish in just under three hours and 20 minutes in memory of Lowestoft teenager Taylor High who died in a crash on the A17 in west Norfolk in March last year.

And Harriet Smith from King's Lynn, who was once just weeks from death after suffering from anorexia for more than a decade, completed the course in four hours, 54 minutes.

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