Today Londoners flocked to the central city to enjoy the annual spectacle of the London Marathon, the 26-and-a-bit mile run from Greenwich to Buckingham Palace via a circuitous route that takes in Tower Bridge, the Isle of Dogs, the Tower of London and the Embankment. While the elite competitors are racing in deadly serious fashion, for most of the participants it’s an opportunity to achieve personal milestones and raise money for worthy charities. Some enthusiasts complete the race in fancy dress to add variety: I saw several clowns, numerous French maids, quite a few superheroes, a handful of armour-clad medieval knights, and someone in a head-to-toe Womble suit. Perhaps the most impressive was the mad ex-Para geezer running the race with a fridge on his back. Sure, it was a bar fridge rather than a full-sized kitchen model, but still. He ran 26 miles with a fridge on his back!
While I didn’t spot Princess Beatrice, who was the first royal to run the race, I did spot two celebrities. Sir Richard Branson, the billionaire owner of Virgin, who sponsored the marathon, ran wearing butterfly wings, perhaps to celebrate that he had just been named Britain’s 18th richest person in the Sunday Times 2010 Rich List (estimated fortune: £2.6bn). The other celeb was Sam Oakley, my pal and former flatmate, who was running for the Samaritans and looked as cool as a speedy cucumber at the 18 mile mark. Good work, Sam.
[Clockwise from top left: (1) The eventual men’s winner, Ethopia’s Tsegaye Kebede, leading 2nd-place getter Emmanuel Mutai from Kenya in the background; (2) This Womble survived at least as far as the 24 mile mark; (3) Branson & co.; (4) Eritrean Zersenay Tadese, who came 7th]