BY ANDREW MCSTEEN
This Sunday, Sir Andy Murray will officially start the 2019 London Marathon which features a record 42,000 runners, including Sir Mo Farah, setting off from Greenwich and Blackheath, eventually ending on The Mall. But before they end their 26.2 miles, they will make their way through the South London boroughs of Greenwich, Lewisham and Southwark.
“I just can’t thank South London enough for embracing the marathon,”said London Marathon event director Hugh Brasher to the South London Press. “We like to say we’re the greatest marathon in the world as it is about the course, the crowds and the athletes and we’re honoured to be allowed to take part on the streets of London.
“The crowds are what makes the London Marathon the greatest marathon in the world,”he continued. “It is [having] the support of the communities coming out, whether they are out from their pubs, schools, faith institutes – that is what makes London so special.
“If you run the London Marathon you will remember that day for the rest of your life; you are cheered every step of the way and you’re running on a sea of positivity. It brings the community together and it’s Britain’s biggest street party where 42,000 people–a record number –happen to be running 26.2 miles and being led along by amazing athletes like Sir Mo.
“It is a huge logistical challenge and we work with all the boroughs really closely,”added Brasher. “We also work with the Mayor’s office and all the blue light services to try and ensure that we disrupt people as little as possible but that we allow people to enjoy what is an incredible getting together of people who are doing something slightly mad–running 26.2 miles –but which is an incredible achievement.”
The oldest female runner in this year’s race is one of South London’s own–84 year old Eileen Noble from Bexleyheath, who is running for MACS, a charity supporting children born without eyes or with underdeveloped eyes.
Noble, who is having problems with her own eyesight and who is particularly keen to support children who are growing up with such major sight problems, finished last year’s marathon in six hours and 47 minutes in the hottest-ever one on record and is looking to go a bit better this year–the 19th time she will have run it.
“Last year was very hard going,”she said.“It got to the point where I just wanted to make sure I got to the Finish. My big ambition is to complete this year’s race and then next year’s too because that would be my 20th London Marathon –so I’m already thinking one step ahead.
“Running keeps me fit and healthy but it also helps me make friends with people a lot younger than me who I go out running with. Other elderly people may just socialise with one another but I’m able to run with all different age groups and that does make you feel younger.”
This year’s marathon is set push the total fundraising for charity in its’history to over £1 billion and amongst the many South London charities and people set to benefit directly from the runners, a number of organisations have benefitted from the latest round of London Marathon Charitable Trust grants.
The Communitas Education Trust in Southwark has received funding for the installation of a Multi-Use Games Area at Goose Green Primary School, while Croydon’s St Cyprian’s Greek Orthodox Primary and the London Borough of Croydon itself have also received grants.
“We are delighted to be able to double the size of our playground, thanks to The London Marathon Charitable Trust,”said Simon Wattam, Head Teacher at Goose Green Primary School. “The extension will increase lunchtime and after school sport opportunities for all of our children and, in particular, will allow us to focus on making sport more accessible to girls.”
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