The media marathon runners

Independent middle distance writer Ed Caesar catches us with the TV presenters, radio folk, PRs and journalists who are running to beat their own personal deadlines
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The Independent Online

John Bryant, Managing editor, Daily Mail

John Bryant, Managing editor, Daily Mail

I'm running this year because I've just written the official history of the London Marathon. I've run it 21 times before. The training's obviously getting harder, especially after I was involved in a serious road accident some years ago. I don't run it as fast as I used to, but I still do it every year.

I'm not all that competitive about my times now - I used to be a very fast marathon runner in my youth - but it's more about taking part now. These days I coach a lot of people and then accompany them around. This time, I'm hopefully going to leave my charges well behind.

Dawn Neesom, Editor, Daily Star

I'm not running for any charity, as I haven't had time to get anything organised, which sounds terribly selfish, I know. I've been meaning to get it sorted ever since I was accepted to run, but time seems to have disappeared.

This is my first marathon prompted by turning 40 last December. Thought I'd better do something to prove I wasn't completely past it. I've been running for pleasure for years, though, as it stops me feeling too stressed out with work. I'm really looking forward to the day and even if I have to crawl around, I'm determined to finish. The downside is West Ham have got Millwall at home on the Saturday before and I'll have to watch sober(ish). Never a good idea.

Sam Wollaston, TV critic on The Guardian

I've got a place, and I'm going to raise money for a charity, but I'm not sure which one yet. I always leave things to the last minute, and this is no exception. As for the training, I'm not doing brilliantly. I was probably fitter four weeks ago than I am now. It's severely dropped off since I did my 18-mile run. With so little time to go, I'm now absolutely terrified by the thought of having to do this race, but it should be a really good day.

Adrian Chiles, Match of the Day 2 presenter

I'm running this year for Sunfield, a charity which provides homes and support for severely autistic children. I'm asking everyone who knows me to give me a fiver. Everyone's doing that through And I'm trying to get some big corporate sponsorship as well. I've done loads of training, but I don't think I'm going to win it. I did the London Marathon eight years ago when I did it in four hours 18 minutes, and I definitely want to beat four hours this time.

I'm a big West Brom fan, and I might be doing it in Zoltan Gera's shorts, or the club sponsors T-Mobile might get me to run it all in pink. It all depends how much they pledge. Or I could run it in Geoff Horsfield's jockstrap. In fact, I could run it in the T-Mobile Tour de France kit, although it's got to be the right material. I'm not ravaging my nipples for anyone.

Mark Bright, Reporter for BBC Sport

I'm running this year's marathon for the Willow Foundation - the charity which Bob Wilson set up after his daughter died of cancer. When I heard Bob speaking about his daughter, I was really touched. We've got a little boy ourselves, and the last thing you would want is for your kid to die before you.

The training's been going well, too. I ran it in 2000, but this time I've got Steve Cram to write me a training programme which I've stuck to, as well as getting the orthotic footwear and everything. So I should be in good shape, and I can't wait for the big day. I want to get near three hours 30 minutes. My little sister did three hours 20 minutes, so I don't want to let myself down. And if Chiles beats me, I'll pack it in.

Sue Thearle, BBC Match of the Day reporter

I'm running for Help the Hospices. They asked me in August and I was immediately keen to help, but I was terrified by running the marathon. I took a lot of persuading, but a pal of mine who has run about 40 of them finally sat me down and told me how to approach it. You just have to be really disciplined with the training. I've built up really slowly, but it's hard. Mentally, it's the hardest thing I've ever done, and I've given birth.

The big upside is that I feel very good and extremely smug at work. They ask me every week how many miles I did on the Sunday. I've done 18 miles now, so that's the longest I'm going to do before the race. I'll get round, but I'm not going to break any records.

Dermot O'Leary, Host of Channel 4's Big Brother's Little Brother

I never excelled at cross country or middle-distance at school, but I've always liked running. This will be the third time I've run and I'm raising money for Terrence Higgins Trust this year. It's important to me to run for a charity. Turning up at a charity dinner can feel like you're not doing anything tangible, so it's a nice way of getting properly involved.

If I can run less than four hours, I will be over the moon. My fastest is 4:08. I was on for about four hours, but Roger Black stopped me, the little sod, for an interview. I was gutted.

Steve Rider, BBC Grandstand presenter

I've done a couple of marathons in the past, but I've always paid the price for not training, and just turning up on the day. So this year I wanted to prepare properly, and I've done a bit of training, but the result is I've injured the tendons in my left knee. I especially want to be there because I'm running for the Exeter Leukaemia Fund and Sport Relief, which is a charity we've all been working on at the BBC.

The only trouble is, I'm meant to be at the Bafta awards at 5pm on the Sunday night in my dickie bow, which, given my previous times, might be a bit of a struggle. Anyway, I should just stop making excuses and get on with it.

Cyril Dixon, Daily Express reporter

I'm running for the Red Cross and Cats Protection. This is my first marathon. I've done half marathons and 10-mile races, but I've always really fancied doing the big one.

My training has gone well but it was interrupted massively because of the tsunami. I was over there for three weeks and there was literally nowhere to run. Since then I've done up to 18 miles at a time. My aim is to finish, but if I do it in less than four hours I'll be really happy.

Lorraine Kelly, Host of LK Today

This will be my second marathon. After last year, I said never again, but I was given the chance of a lot of sponsorship for my four charities and couldn't turn it down. Last year, I ran all the way - my time was just under six hours - but I was glad to finish and get my medal and lots of dosh for charity. This year I'll be running for the Scottish Society for Autism, MS Scotland, Sharp (a heart charity based in Dundee) and Maplewood school for the profoundly handicapped.

Simon Gompertz, Presenter of BBC2's Working Lunch

It's my first marathon. I've done half marathons, and I started training for this one before Christmas. I've done a run recently which is about 23 miles, and I was destroyed after that. I might have peaked too soon.

I'll definitely finish, and I want to do it in under four hours. I'm running for the Microloan Foundation (, which is a small charity based in Malawi which lends people a tiny amount of money, say £15 to £50, to start businesses. I'm collecting through and it's been going really well so far.

Chris Satterthwaite, Group chief executive, Chime Plc PR

I'm running for Sports Leaders UK. They're a terrific charity who train 85,000 people a year to be sports leaders in their community. Our motto here is to encourage teams not gangs, so that's why I'm supporting them.

The training was going swimmingly, but I've had a problem with my foot over the past two weeks. I did the London Marathon last year for the same charity and it was very wet but enjoyable. The crowds were great, and I ran behind Elvis, who pumped out Elvis's greatest hits from his backpack, which kept me going. I've also done the Neolithic Marathon which was a bit of fun. I'm just hoping it's cloudy for this year's race - clouds are good.

Caroline Feraday, Presenter on London's LBC 97.3FM

I'm running for Marie Curie Cancer Care. I'm so competitive that I want to be their top fundraiser, but at the moment I'm third. I've done some stuff for Marie Curie in the past because, like everyone, I have been touched by cancer in my family, and they give people the opportunity to deal with cancer in a comforting environment. Their level of cancer care is just amazing, and they have such expertise - I'm so pleased I'm running for them.

This is my first marathon, and the training's going really well, although I've got a bit of a sore knee at the moment. I know it's going to be one of the most amazing days of my life.