Bunhill: Marathon runs

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The Independent Online
THIS year's London Marathon is safe, after all. A few weeks ago, the Government threatened to ban the Marathon from using Greenwich and St James's Parks unless it paid towards the disruption and mess it causes.

Under the charges scheme, the Government wanted pounds 25,000 from the race but agreed to reduce the charge to pounds 15,000.

As someone who used to live near its start in Greenwich Park, I can vouch for the need for someone to pay. Nevertheless, the race is a great spectacle (more than 25,000 runners will take part this year) and a big fund-raiser for charities ( pounds 1.4m to local bodies since the first race in 1981).

But a call to NutraSweet, the race's new sponsors, reveals the company is putting in pounds 2m a year. About half that goes on promotion and organising and the rest to the top runners in prizes and appearance money - one athlete, Liz McColgan, is said to have signed an agreement worth pounds 500,000 to run over the next three years.

Small wonder then that, after much huffing and puffing, Chris Brasher, the Marathon organiser, in the end agreed to pay the pounds 15,000 - although, in a face-saving technicality, the money will be used for recreational facilities.

(Photograph omitted)