Run­ners em­body the ‘spirit of Lon­don’

Athletics Weekly - - News - See ath­let­ic­ for more on each of the award win­ners

DAVID WEIR and Paula Rad­cliffe re­flected on their many Lon­don Marathon mem­o­ries and what the iconic event means to them as they re­ceived their Spirit of Lon­don awards at Lon­don’s City

Hall last week, writes Jes­sica


The Bri­tish athletics greats were among the 25 cham­pi­ons, run­ners, vol­un­teers and sup­port­ers to re­ceive recog­ni­tion from the Vir­gin Money Lon­don Marathon as part of its

2018 cam­paign, which was launched to cel­e­brate the many ex­tra­or­di­nary sto­ries of those who have been in­volved since its first edi­tion in 1981.

The in­au­gu­ral win­ners

37 years ago – joint men’s race cham­pi­ons Dick

Beard­s­ley and Inge Si­mon­sen and women’s race win­ner Joyce Smith – were among the award re­cip­i­ents, along with marathon world record-holder Rad­cliffe and wheel­chair rac­ing greats Weir and Tanni Grey-Thomp­son.

Weir, who raced the

Lon­don Marathon for the

19th con­sec­u­tive time in April after start­ing out as a Mini Marathoner, said: “When I was a kid it was the spirit of watch­ing the wheel­chair race in the early eight­ies that got me into this sport. I just love the spirit of Lon­don and I love rac­ing in Lon­don ev­ery year. It does some­thing to me. It was the birth of my ca­reer.”

Rad­cliffe de­scribed be­ing named among the award win­ners as “very spe­cial and also very hum­bling”.

“You get the chance to dis­cover some truly in­spi­ra­tional sto­ries and peo­ple here. I think it just brings home how spe­cial the marathon is and how spe­cial the Lon­don Marathon is,” she added.

“One of my first stand­out mo­ments is back in 1985 when I was stood by the side of the road wait­ing for my dad to come by and I saw In­grid Kris­tiansen on route to set­ting the world record. That re­ally in­spired me to want to do the marathon and take part in athletics. Then to come in 2002 and run as well as I did – I lit­er­ally crossed the fin­ish line and was grab­bing hold of my hus­band to plan the next marathon. Then to be able to come back in 2003 and set the world record was a dream come true, and in 2015 I was given the hon­our of be­ing able to fin­ish my com­pet­i­tive ca­reer in Lon­don and ex­pe­ri­ence that magic one more time.”

The Spirit of Lon­don theme was in­spired by the mo­ment in the 2017 race when Swansea Har­ri­ers run­ner Matthew Rees stopped on The Mall to help an ex­hausted David Wyeth to fin­ish. It was cap­tured on BBC TV cam­eras and the footage went vi­ral.

Ahead of this year’s event, Rees and Wyeth were an­nounced as the first two win­ners of the Spirit of Lon­don award.

Award win­ners: Paula

Rad­cliffe MBE, David Weir

CBE, Tanni Grey-Thomp­son DBE, Dick Beard­s­ley and Inge Si­mon­sen, Joyce Smith MBE, Kathrine Switzer, Matthew Rees and David Wyeth, Michael Wat­son MBE, Steve Chalke MBE, Char­lie Dark, Jill Tyrell, Fauja Singh BEM, Claude Umuhire, Chris Moon MBE, Claire Lo­mas MBE, Rhian

Burke, Roy Web­ber, Si­mon Kind­ley­sides, Char­lie Gueni­gault, Zamzam Farah, Stephen’s

Team, two teams of North Kens­ing­ton and Padding­ton

Red Watch fire­fight­ers.

Paula Rad­cliffe: first in­spired by watch­ing the 1985 race

David Weir: won an im­pres­sive eighth se­nior Lon­don Marathon ti­tle this year

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