BY TOBY PORTER
Sunday’s London Marathon welcomed just over 36,000 mass-event runners to the traditional street course – and another 40,000 runners took part remotely, logging their distance via a tracking app.
It was 889 days since the colourful charity spectacular last followed the 26.2 mile route from Greenwich to The Mall, after last year’s mass event was scrapped due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions.
There were no volunteers hanging medals around the necks of finishers, who instead found their medal in their bag.
Large groups did not wait at the start line together and instead participants set off in more than 40 waves across a 90-minute period.
Runners wore bottle belts to cut touchpoints on the day, and were asked to invite just one supporter to reduce crowds along the route.
More than £1billion has been raised for good causes during the past 40 years.
There were seven ever presents, one of whom took part remotely.
Fifty Tailwalkers had a DJ driving behind them after the third mile and a support squad followed to help anyone struggling.
Olympics BMX silver medallist Kye Whyte started the mass race and famous faces taking part include former England cricket captain Sir Andrew Strauss and former health secretary Matt Hancock.
Lucy Harvey, from Poole, Dorset, who turned 18 on Saturday, was the youngest runner, while Koichi Kitabatake, 87, from Japan, was the oldest.
There were about 1,500 runners raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support which is the marathon’s official charity this year.
The race included several measures to reduce its carbon impact, including electric lead vehicles and finish line goodie bags made out of sugar cane, rather than plastic.
Joyciline Jepkosgei took the women’s title , while Sisay Kemma won the men’s race.
Marcel Hug and Manuela Schar completed a Swiss double in the wheelchair races, with Britain’s David Weir coming third in his 22nd London Marathon.
A virtual quiz star ran the streets where he once slept to raise money for a homeless charity.
Jay Flynn collected money for The Connection at St Martin’s, ahead of World Homeless Day on October 10.
He ran past the bench on Embankment he dubbed No 3 Riverside Drive where he slept rough for two years, until a charity helped him get a roof over his head and to rebuild his life.
Wimbledon-born Jay became an overnight sensation during lockdown when his virtual pub quiz went viral, after he mistakenly set a Facebook event to public instead of private.
Awarded an MBE this year for his fundraising achievements, Jay ran through the heart of Westminster which has the highest number of homeless people living on the streets nationwide.
Jay ended up there after a job that didn’t work out and a relationship breakdown.
One of the Connection’s outreach workers eventually found him on the Embankment bench where he slept and helped to get him off the streets and get his life back on track.
Jay rocketed to fame last year, posing questions to people across the globe every week in his Virtual Pub quizzes.
Dubbed the ‘Quiz masters’ quiz master’ by Stephen Fry, since March 2020, Jay has raised more than £1million for charities for which he received an MBE, featured on radio and TV, and holds a Guinness World Record for the most viewers of a quiz on a You Tube live stream.
Jay says he’s indebted to the Connection of St Martin’s for helping him at his lowest point.
He said: “Covid has shown how important it is to look out for one other. I was lucky that someone from the Connection reached out to me and helped me get back on my feet.”
The Connection at St Martin’s chief executive Pam Orchard said: “It’s down to the generosity of our supporters that we are able to continue our vital services to help people get off and stay off the streets of London and to meaningful futures and a place called home.
“We do this by tackling the underlying causes of rough sleeping as well as offering practical help.
We’d like to thank Jay and all our runners, for their incredible efforts in completing the London Marathon.”
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.