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37,000 help make marathon history

Over 37,000 fundraisers, amateur runners and elite athletes completed the Virgin Money London Marathon today, making it the biggest in the event's 35-year history.

World record holder Paula Radcliffe, 41, participated in her final competitive marathon in a time of 2:36:55.

The Beckham family were among an estimated 750,000 spectators who lined the streets of the capital. They cheered on 12-year-old Romeo Beckham who ran in the children's marathon.

Radcliffe took part in the main event with the massed ranks rather than the elite field.

She embraced her husband Gary Lough and children Isla and Ra phael at the finish line in The Mall.

''There were so many people out there on the route. It did get really emotional on Birdcage Walk because as much as my body wanted it to finish I didn't ever want it to end," Radcliffe said.

Prince Harry presented medals to the winners of the elite races, and also gave a lifetime achievement award to Radcliffe.

"He said 'well done' and he was asking me how I was feeling," she recalled later. "He was chatting to my kids, which really made their day and is something they will remember forever."

Her women's marathon world record of 2:15:25, set in London in 2003, is almost three minutes faster than any other woman has ever run.

Romeo completed the Mini London Marathon, which takes place over the final three miles of the full course, in 18 minutes and 54 seconds.

He was supported by his father David, mother Victoria and brothers Brooklyn and Cruz, who all wore white T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan Team Romeo.

Brooklyn posted a picture of his brother on Instagram and wrote that he had raised £6,000 for Aids charity UNAIDS, the joint United Nations programme on Aids, and David's Unicef 7 fund.

Victoria, who posted a message on Twitter which read "we are so proud!", sported a leather biker jacket, skinny faded grey jeans and high heeled ankle boots. David was more casual in a green jacket, dark jeans and a black beanie hat.

Conditions were reasonably good for the runners, with patchy rain and mild temperatures on a gloomy day in the capital.

British wheelchair athlete David Weir's bid for a record seventh Virgin Money London Marathon title ended in disappointment as he was pipped to the line by American Joshua George.

In the men's elite race, Eliud Kipchoge won a titanic tussle with fellow Kenyan Wilson Kipsang, while E thiopia's Tigist Tufa ended Kenya's domination of the women's race with a shock victory.

Organisers said 37,675 runners had crossed the finish line by 6.10pm, compared to the previous record of 36,705 three years ago.

Five politicians took time off from defending their House of Commons seats in the General Election campaign to pound the streets of London.

The fastest was Wales Office minister Alun Cairns with a time of 3:38:25. The other Conservatives in the race were minister for children and families Edward Timpson, Graham Evans and Richard Drax.

Labour was represented by shadow justice minister Dan Jarvis.

Bank of England governor Mark Carney ran 3:31:35 before declaring it "one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life".

A host of celebrities also tackled the famous 26.2-mile course.

They included Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans, TV presenter Jenni Falconer, Formula One driver Jenson Button, Radio 1 DJ Greg James, double Olympic gold medallist rower James Cracknell, fashion designer Henry Holland, Made In Chelsea star Oliver Proudlock and US model Christy Turlington Burns.

Button, 35, said running a marathon was "a lot more painful" than motor racing, and added that he was "chuffed to bits" with a time of 2:52:30.

"It's six minutes quicker than my previous personal best," said Button, who raised money for Cancer Research UK.

"It's a really special day and it's great to be here at the London Marathon.

"Thirty-eight thousand racing is just madness and so many people out there cheering.

"It's such a good atmosphere. It's quite emotional at times around the course."

When asked how the race went, Cracknell, who finished in 2:50:43, said: "It's different to other races. Depending on which section, I would have a very different answer. The first part was all right, the middle part was very good and the end was horrible."

The 42-year-old raised money for brain injury association Headway after being injured in a cycling accident in July 2010.

"They helped me and my family out when I had an accident in America," he said. "They support countless families and other victims so as well as raising money, hopefully people can understand the problem of a brain injury because it's an unseen illness."

Turlington Burns, 46, who came in at 3:46:45, said: "It was a phenomenal race and a personal record for me so I'm feeling great.

"I'm running for Every Mother Counts. It's a charity that I founded five years ago. We work to make pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother around the world."

Evans, 49, who only announced today that he was taking part in the marathon, clocked a time of 4:53:15.

"I wondered if you can train for a marathon in secret in a position like mine and get away with it and apparently you can," he said. "I feel great."

It was an extra special day for two participants who got married half way round the course.

Laura Harvey, 34, and Paul Elliot, 41, from south London, tied the knot at St Katharine Docks before completing the marathon.

The youngest entrant was Jonny Innes from Falmouth, Cornwall, who celebrated his 18th birthday today. He finished in a time of 3:49:09.

Guinness reported that over 30 world records were set at the event. These ranged from the fastest marathon dressed as Spiderman to the quickest time carrying a 20lb pack.


From Belfast Telegraph