I hadn’t expected to be moved. We were in the crowd 50 feet from the gates of Buckingham Palace, on the last bend of the London Marathon, as the hordes staggered past us towards the finish line, contorted with pain. One man collapsed exhausted in the middle of a pack of runners, clearly in distress. Before the paramedics could reach him, he was picked up by two other competitors - they didn’t appear to know the guy, and were themselves struggling - and he was carried the final 200 metres so he could receive his medal. Spectators were screaming themselves hoarse, choking back tears, quite overwhelmed by the spectacle of humanity unfolding before them.
It took me till then to “get” the marathon. But there’s hope for me yet. The 30,000 competitors in tomorrow’s race will include Paul Freedman, at 89 the oldest participant. He only took up running aged 61, and has since raised £100,000 for charity by completing 170 marathons. Paul has taken part in every London Marathon since 1991 – except 2004 when he was recovering from a heart attack – and has vowed to carry on for another two years until grandson Samuel, 16, can run with him. He is raising funds for St Francis Hospice, which cared for his wife Reene: justgiving.com/PaulFreedman2014.
In a week when some of the less edifying aspects of parliamentary life have been displayed, good luck to our MPs who are running. The Shadow London Minister, Sadiq Khan, has received cross-party sponsorship from George Osborne and Nick Clegg for the Evening Standard’s Dispossessed Fund: tinyurl.com/oo7anc8.
Johnny Pearson, 44, from Thorpe Underwood in North Yorkshire, will run alongside the bone marrow donor who saved his life, Sean Hagan, 23, of Askam-in-Furness in Cumbria. They are raising money for Anthony Nolan: justgiving.com/johnnypearson, justgiving.com/SeanHagan. Or for more on becoming a donor, anthonynolan.org.