2012 all over again: London Marathon's search for the Olympic spirit

As well as showing solidarity with Boston, the race will revive last year's feel good factor

Some seven months after the Olympic flame was finally extinguished, ending London 2012, thousands of athletes will return to the capital this weekend. But this time the world’s elite runners will be up against a woman knitting a scarf and the planet’s fastest giant foam rubber fire extinguisher.

Organisers of the London Marathon said today that they hoped this weekend’s race would recapture the spirit of the London Games as well as standing up in solidarity with the victims of the bombings that devastated the Boston race on Monday.

Some 36,000 runners will mass on Blackheath tomorrow morning in a remarkable unification of sporting excellence with human endeavour, as a field including the double Olympic champion Mo Farah and no fewer than 15 London 2012 gold medallists.

Coming at the end of a winter that has threatened to bully spring out of the seasonal cycle, the race may also prove to be an opportunity for Londoners to usher in something resembling a return to normal  climatic service.

Hugh Brasher, the race director and the son of the London Marathon’s joint founder Chris Brasher, said: “We hope that the marathon will squeeze into one day all the excitement and excellence that we saw over three days of the London Games in terms of the different races.

“Last summer’s Games were absolutely amazing, and it reminded us how good we are at putting on these types of events. I think the marathon allows us to recapture some of that, from the athletes, to the venues, to the masses of people who will come out and offer their support.”

Mr Brasher said: “One of the most positive things we can do on Sunday is to ensure that the race and the event is even better than it has been before. That is very much what we are focused on.”

While many eyes will be on Farah, who will run only half the distance as part of his transition to becoming a marathon runner, the heart of the race will be the tens of thousands of amateurs taking part, some of them bidding for unusual glory while also raising money for charity.

Among them will be 60 runners attempting to set an array of Guinness World Records – including Jerome Timbrell, who hopes to complete the fastest marathon as a mascot while dressed as a fire extinguisher. Meanwhile Susie Hewer, 56, will attempt to break her own personal best of knitting a scarf more than 162cm in length while completing the 26.2-mile course.

She said: “It will be my 30th marathon but I only knit during the London race. A friend said I should stay at home and do my knitting, so I’ve combined both.”

She added: “I think we will see the return of the Olympic atmosphere, not least because of the crowd you get for the marathon. It’s very special because everyone offers their support to everyone.”

The race takes place amid further evidence that the nation’s appetite for world-class athletics remains unsated. All 130,000 tickets for the Anniversary Games at the Olympic Stadium, which will see many of the stars of 2012 return to Stratford in July, sold out within 75 minutes of going on sale today.

The extra mile: runners' stories

Boston bomb survivor

Michael Smith, 51, Weymouth

“I finished the Boston Marathon in  3 hours 48 minutes. The finish area was crowded with people milling around trying to find their families.

Suddenly there was a massive explosion. There was lots of smoke and people were screaming and panicking. I’ve run 152 marathons but nothing like that’s happened before. I’m concerned about Sunday but that’s natural. I imagine people will be worried when they get to the finish.”

The best friend

Lisa Elliott, 31, London

“Fran was 33 when she died on 8 April after being diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 29. I’d known her for nine years, ever since we started work at a London PR agency on the same day. I ran my first marathon last year and said I’d never run it again. I want to do London for her, to honour her memory. Paris [marathon] and London was always the plan. It just makes me more determined to do her proud.”

The slimmer

Matt Briggs, 30, York

“I decided to lose weight in January 2010 after seeing a photo on Facebook. I was 31 stone. All I did was work, eat and sleep. I began to incorporate exercise and healthy eating into my lifestyle. I’ve lost 16 stone, making me Slimming World’s Greatest Loser. Slimming World asked me to join its running team. We’re running for Cancer Research UK. I’d love to do it in four hours.”

The cancer patient

Carl Humphries, 49, Blackpool

“I started running about four years ago. I originally planned to run the marathon for Anthony Nolan, which found a bone marrow donor for my wife Diana when she had leukaemia. In February I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. The cancer spread to my pelvis but my training has continued – I will now be donating some money I raise to Prostate Cancer UK.”

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
News
people
Sport
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
film
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
News
Albert Camus (left) and Jean-Paul Sartre fell out in 1952 and did not speak again before Camus’s death
people
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Arts and Entertainment
'Felfie' (2014) by Alison Jackson
photographyNew exhibition shows how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Fright night: the board game dates back to at least 1890
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Field Based Sales Surveyor - OTE £40,000

£16000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Field Based Sales Surveyor is...

Ampersand Consulting LLP: UI Designer/ User Interface Designer (UI, User Flow, Design)

£6000 - £60000 per annum + Bonus and Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: UI De...

Investigo: International Finance Analyst

£270 - £300 per annum: Investigo: An exciting opportunity to join an internati...

Recruitment Genius: CAD / CAM Ladies Cocktail & Eveningwear Gerber Grader

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?