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Dame Kelly and Tim Peake help London Marathon pass the million finishers' mark

Published 24/04/2016

As participants prepare to pound the capital's streets, British astronaut Tim Peake will aim to complete the route while strapped to a treadmill at the International Space Station
As participants prepare to pound the capital's streets, British astronaut Tim Peake will aim to complete the route while strapped to a treadmill at the International Space Station

Double Olympic winner Dame Kelly Holmes has credited the music of Prince for keeping her relaxed as she took on her first marathon alongside thousands of others in a record-breaking year for the race.

Organisers said more than 39,000 people were due at the start line for the 36th London marathon, which saw its one millionth competitor cross the finish line.

British astronaut Tim Peake may have been miles away in space but he was just behind Dame Kelly in terms of time, claiming a new Guinness World Records title for the fastest marathon in orbit.

The spaceman, who ran the marathon while strapped to a treadmill 400km above earth on board the International Space Station, completed it in three hours and 35 minutes, not long behind Dame Kelly's finish time of three hours and 11 minutes.

Major Peake had sent a good luck video message to racegoers as they set off on a chilly but bright day, with supporters lining the capital's streets.

Dame Kelly was one of a host of big names signed up for this year's event including Top Gear host Chris Evans and Game of Thrones actress Natalie Dormer.

Speaking after the race the middle distance runner, who had spoken before the event of how tough she found the preparations, said she felt happy but sore.

She told the Press Association: "I'm really proud of myself, I'm in a bit of pain now obviously. My legs are aching beyond belief. But it is an amazing feeling to think I've done it."

Asked would she do it again she said: "At this moment no."

The sportswoman, who had her nails painted different colours honouring experienced runner Eddie Izzard, the Queen and Prince, said the musician, who died last week, helped keep her calm.

She said: "At nine miles I had Purple Rain on, I was loving it. At nine miles I needed to calm. I felt so good and the crowd were brilliant. That came on and I had a little bit of a smile because I had my nails painted for him as well."

She added: "He kept me in control. When he came on I was like 'smile, relax' and that's what I did."

In the elite men's race Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge successfully defended his 2015 title, gaining a course record, and the second fastest time in history.

Fellow Kenyan Jemima Sumgong won the elite women's race, having earlier hit her head in a heavy fall.

Maj Peake was one of scores of entrants attempting to break Guinness World Records this year as fun runners took part in an event that attracts elite athletes and fundraisers alike.

People dressed in all manner of outfits, including brightly coloured wigs, full body suits and face paints ran the route, cheered on by family, friends and other supporters as they ran from Greenwich to The Mall.

In total 31 records were achieved.

There are 70 years between the oldest and youngest runners in this year's race.

Race veteran Iva Barr, 88, from Bedford took part in her 20th London Marathon, while Rebecca Manners from Manningtree in Essex celebrated her 18th birthday by running the route alongside her parents.

The millionth finisher will not be named until May 9, as organisers said adjustments may have to be made to results.

The marathon's chosen charity for next year was announced on Sunday as competitors set off.

Heads Together, which will take over as the charity of the year from the NSPCC, is made up of a team of mental health charities which have been brought together by The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, who is patron of the London Marathon Charitable Trust.

One person along the marathon route was taken to hospital in a critical condition earlier this afternoon, London Ambulance Service said.

A spokeswoman said they were called to reports of a person in cardiac arrest on Upper Thames Street, in central London, at around 1.24pm.

The person, whose gender or age has not been confirmed, was taken to St Thomas' Hospital.

A spokesman for the hospital said they would not comment.

An incident that has emerged appearing to show non-runners taking bottles of water meant for marathon participants from a site along the route has been described as "disappointing" by the event director.

The footage shows people lifting packs of bottled water and carrying them off or putting them in bags.

The person shooting the video, which appears to have been taken towards the end of the race as empty bottles line the roadside and some runners are walking the route, said the incident happened in Deptford.

Hugh Brasher, the marathon's event director, said: "It's very disappointing to see water being stolen in this way from the official water stations for our runners.

"These water stations are staffed by volunteers and we are very grateful to them for their work on race day. We always brief our volunteers not to get into altercations if this kind of thing happens. We'll investigate this further."

Police said they have not received any report of theft in relation to the incident.

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