Under grey skies and an almost constant drizzle, some 40,000 people showed yesterday that there are many ways to complete the London Marathon.
Competitors ranging from three prisoners to the world's best athletes to a scattering of octogenarians in ruder health than many half their age took part in the 26th marathon. They were applauded along a route lined by 500,000 spectators.
Most participants were running for charity in an event which raised £19m for good causes last year. But few will have worked as hard for their money as Lloyd Scott, who wore a full suit of medieval armour and towed a model dragon. Mr Scott holds the record for the slowest finish after taking five days to complete the 2002 race in a deep-sea diving suit. "It's more difficult than when I did it in a diving suit, because it's about three times heavier," he said. "The dragon has no momentum so as soon as you stop, the dragon stops."
The sight of a bride and groom sprinting up the aisle was among the other unusual ingredients, with Kate Austin, 28, and Gordon Fryer, 48, holding their wedding en route to the finishing line.
The bride arrived on Tower Bridge with her full-length ivory dress covering her trainers while the groom and his imminent father-in-law sported waistcoats and cravats above their shorts.
The couple, from Romsey, Hampshire - whose friends donated to charity instead of giving presents - had to weather remarks about running away together and getting married in a hurry.
Mr Fryer, a publican, said: "At 13 miles, it has got to be the longest walk down the aisle."
The soggy conditions were braved by various celebrities, including Sir Steve Redgrave, aiming to set a world record of £1.25m for a single marathon fundraiser, and Jade Goody, the former Big Brother contestant, who boasted of her lack of training for the event and then dropped out after completing 20 miles.
The professional competitors got on with the job of fighting it out for the £176,000 prize fund.
The men's race was won in a sprint finish by Felix Limo, from Kenya, in two hours, six minutes and 38 seconds. The winning woman was Deena Kastor, an American, in 2:19:36. None was faster than the Briton David Weir, who won the men's wheelchair race in 1:29:48, a course record.Reuse content