Pinto sets European record in London run

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The Independent Online

Runners in the 20th London Marathon broke several records yesterday, including a new European time set by the Portuguese winner Antonio Pinto.

Mr Pinto beat 32,619 other runners, the largest ever number of entrants for the annual event, by running the fifth fastest time in marathon history.

He crossed the finishing line in 2 hours, 6 minutes and 36 seconds after sprinting along the final 300 yards of the 26 mile and 385 yard course. Earning a prize of $130,000 (£90,000), Mr Pinto also broke his previous course record by 89 seconds, beating last year's winner Abdelkader El Mouaziz.

The women's race was won by Tegla Loroupe, the Kenyan, and the world's fastest woman marathon runner, in 2hrs 24mins 33secs. Mark Steinle was the first Briton, with a time of 2hrs 11mins 20 secs and qualifying for the Sydney Olympics.

The bulk of the field was made up by people running for pleasure and for charity, raising an estimated £20 million for worthy causes. This year's costumes included a man in a double decker bus costume, another dressed as a tree, one posing as the Star War's character Darth Maul and four men running as a birthday cake.

The celebrities section of the race was won by the actor Jonny Lee Miller, a star of the movies Trainspotting and Regeneration, with a time of 3 hours and 2 minutes. "My legs feel awful but the rest of me feels fantastic," he said.

Other famous faces included the retired boxer Frank Bruno, the Grandstand presenter Steve Ryder and Roger Black, the Olympic sprinter in his first marathon. Black said it was far harder than he expected. "A 65-year-old woman overtook me and then later I was overtaken by a bloke dressed as a dalmatian," he said.

The race, founded in 1981 with only 6,000 runners, also featured its first ever satellite event. Michael Robertson, a marketing executive from Penicuik, Midlothian, was allowed to run the race in Edinburgh after pulling out of the event because his wife, Joanne, was expecting their second child.

Helped by friends who jogged and cycled alongside him, Mr Robertson finished in 4 hours, 35 minutes and 25 seconds.

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