Diving into record books for slowest marathon

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The Independent Online

After five days, eight hours and 30 minutes Lloyd Scott lurched into the record books yesterday by completing the slowest marathon London has witnessed.

By achieving the considerable feat encapsulated in a 130lb deep sea diver's suit – complete with lead boots – he simultaneously raised the stakes in discovering the most eccentric way to tackle what is arguably the world's most colourful marathon.

Mr Scott, 40, a former Leyton Orient goalkeeper who was diagnosed three years ago with leukaemia, crossed the finish line in The Mall at 6.15pm to handshakes from well-wishers and some bemused looks from the rush-hour traffic. He was closely followed by a team of 16 helpers, which included his wife, Carol and their three children from Rainham, Essex, three nurses and three soldiers from the Royal Green Jackets, who have tracked him every agonising inch of the 26.2-mile course – and been on hand to pick him off the ground on several occasions.

Barely audible through the grille of his 40lb copper helmet, a triumphant Mr Scott reflected on his Olympian feat. "It's the maddest thing I've ever done. It's another world in here – I've been cut off from everything. I didn't even know the Budget had been announced."

As he entered the final day yesterday, Mr Scott, who has run eight London marathons and expects to raise £100,000 for the charity Cancer and Leukaemia in Childhood, received a timely boost from Paula Radcliffe. Radcliffe, who won the women's race on Sunday – breaking the British record in her first attempt at the distance – said: "I'm full of admiration for you. There's no way I could even contemplate getting around with all that weight on."

When the adrenaline departs and Mr Scott climbs out of his lead boots and diver's helmet, he will find himself reminded of serious chafing to rival that suffered last Sunday by those other competitors vying for attention in rhinoceros suits and clown uniforms.

To numb the discomfort in the past week he has taken more than 50 painkillers against the aches in his shoulders, legs, back and feet caused by the Forties-style suit, which is made of lead and rubberised canvas.

He has been in the suit for almost 12 hours a day – achieving 4.8 miles at a pace of 400 yards every 20 minutes.

During the week he was hardly able to lift his feet in the lead boots and made daily stops between 5pm and 9.30pm. At nights he climbed out of his suit and after dinner bedded down in a mobile home with his brother.

If the winner of the men's race, the American runner Khalid Khannouchi, had continued at his winning pace for as long as Mr Scott, he could last night have found himself in the outskirts of the Egyptian city of Alexandria.