Belfast Telegraph

Blind athlete Iris Peel aching but so proud of marathon London effort

Iris Peel (left) with her guide Abigail Cast after competing in the London Marathon
Iris Peel (left) with her guide Abigail Cast after competing in the London Marathon
Iris and Abigail running in a previous race
Iris and her guide dog Delaney
Runners in fancy dress
Runners in fancy dress
The London Marathon
Eliud Kipchoge and Women’s Elite winner Brigid Kosgei with Prince Harry
Nell McAndrew
Hayley Carruthers crawls over the finish line

By David Young

A visually impaired runner from Co Antrim was feeling upbeat last night after finishing her first marathon in London yesterday.

Iris Peel (54), who is a group manager in the social care sector, put her best foot forward to record a time of 5.17:40, less than two minutes outside her target of 5:15.

Still a little breathless, Iris said last night: "That was my first ever marathon.

"I feel absolutely delighted that I managed to do it, but absolutely exhausted as well. My feet ache, my legs ache, everything aches."

Iris runs with the help of dedicated guide Abigail Cast.

"Being visually impaired I can't just get up and go for a run," said Iris, who was born and brought up in Lisburn.

"She has to train with me, and run every step of the way with me."

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Iris's achievement has raised £3,500 for Guide Dogs for the Blind.

And she's already registered to run in the Walled City Marathon in June this year.

The money raised by Iris for Guide Dogs helped push to over £1bn the total raised by the London Marathon over the years.

Tens of thousand of runners - from elite athletes to celebrities and amateur fundraisers - pounded the capital's streets for yesterday's record-breaking run, which saw Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge win in 02.02:37, a new course record.

Tennis star Andy Murray pushed the starting button to launch the Elite Men, British Athletics and England Athletics Marathon Championships, and Mass Race at 10.10am.

British Olympic champion Sir Mo Farah finished fifth with a time of 02:05:39.

Earlier in the morning the Elite Wheelchair race and World Para Athletics Marathon Championships Ambulant Athletes set off, followed by the Elite Women at 9.25am.

Sir Mo (36) said he "felt good" midway through the course but could not match "incredible" Kipchoge (34).

He also insisted his widely-publicised spat with Ethiopian Olympian Haile Gebrselassie did not impact his performance.

"I didn't think the fuss affected my run and I wasn't distracted by the build-up, it was all about London today and so I put my head down, did my best," he said.

The Duke of Sussex also made a surprise appearance to hand out medals to marathon and wheelchair winners and meet volunteers.

Harry had always planned to attend but his visit was uncertain as he awaits the imminent birth of his first child.

Royal fans used the prince's appearance to speculate his wife Meghan, who is at their Frogmore Cottage home on the Windsor Castle estate, would not give birth just yet.

The Virgin Money London Marathon Charity of the Year 2019 was Dementia Revolution, a partnership between the Alzheimer's Society and Alzheimer's Research UK.

Their £3.5m fundraising target was bolstered by a team running for Dame Barbara Windsor (81), who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2014.

Her husband Scott Mitchell and a team of EastEnders cast members including Adam Woodyatt, who plays Ian Beale, had raised £100,000 before the race started.

Other celebrity runners included radio presenter Chris Evans and TV personality Nell McAndrew, who said support was "incredible" after she crossed the line in 03:15:08.

French tennis ace and Wimbledon winner Amelie Mauresmo, who coached Andy Murray, said: "Every marathon I have run so far, at the finish line, I've said I will never do another marathon and I certainly feel like that now."

Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, said it was an "amazing marathon" as he hinted he might run next year.

"It's been beautifully organised and it's so amazing to have raised the big £1bn," he said.

The marathon is the UK's largest annual fundraising event.

Belfast Telegraph

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