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No laughing matter: Izzard finishes marathon challenge

As a transvestite comic who claimed never to have run farther than five miles before, Eddie Izzard was always an unlikely candidate to run 1,100 miles around Britain in aid of charity. But yesterday the 47-year-old stand-up comic arrived in Trafalgar Square having completed 43 marathons across the country in just 52 days.

Izzard undertook five weeks' training for the 'marathons' – some 31 miles long – with just one rest day a week to raise more than £200,000 Sports Relief.

Izzard said a high point during his marathon was running up Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh. The lowest point was two weeks into his marathon running when the gruelling physical regime began to take its tole on the body. But yesterday he finished and climbing the steps in front of the National Gallery, he lifted his hands in the air, and said: "I feel exhausted."

Drenched in rain and sweat, Izzard was cheered to the finish by hundreds of supporters.

"When I left here seven-and-a-half weeks ago there was nobody here, it was just a cold morning," he said.

"The worst part of the whole experience was the last three minutes sprinting down The Mall, that was really tough."

Asked about his physical condition he said: "Everyone says my legs look very good but I thought they looked quite good beforehand.

"The small toes have lost their nails and they look like alien monsters but I'm told they will grow back.

"I'm going to have a party somewhere that's dry and then I'm going to sleep for a week." He said his mind was okay but "a bit fuddled".

Along the way, Izzard – who now calls himself an "action transvestite" – was nearly run over on the A77 in Stranraer and, high on adrenalin, staged an impromptu gig in Penrith.

As well as raising money for Sports Relief, Izzard said he hoped to inspire people to embrace the London Olympics.

"We've never really had that party to celebrate the Olympics but sometimes you've got to grab these things and go for it," the comic said.

Asked how his achievements ranked, Izzard, a double Emmy award-winning comedian who has toured all over the world, said: "It's got to be right up there. This wasn't supposed to be on my list of things to do."

He said one of the highlights was being joined by other runners, who have included Denise Van Outen, Frank Skinner, Steve Cram and Allison Curbishley.

He added: "I don't think what I did is that amazing, anyone can do it."