The return of our running superheroes

One of the world’s biggest sporting events and a huge charity fund-raiser returns this weekend with the 42nd London Marathon.

The marathon is an iconic event that attracts runners from all over the world and massive crowds and TV audiences.

For the elite runners it will be about medals and pushing their bodies to the limit. But the tens of thousands of other runners, joggers, walkers and wheelchair participants will all have their own goals and reasons for tackling the course.

For some it’s about the physical challenge, for many others it’s to raise money for a worthy cause. Some just love the camaraderie and sense of community as they’re cheered along the route by enthusiastic crowds.

Since the first marathon in 1981, more than £1bn has been raised for good causes. The British Heart Foundation is the 2022 Charity of the Year. Its team of runners will be raising funds for research t0 unlock a cure for a disease that destroys lives.

Another charity that caught our eye is Support Through Court.

The increase in cuts to legal aid means thousands of people face the civil or family courts alone. Without help they are forced to navigate a complex legal system alone.

Now, 750 volunteers provide a free service across England and Wales, offering support and guidance before, during, and after court. For us, that’s a service well worth supporting.

Last October race

This will be the third and final year the race takes place in October. In 2023 it will return to its traditional April calendar spot. Last year, with still so much uncertainty over Covid-19, around 40,000 runners undertook virtual marathons on their own courses and that’s a feature that looks set to stay.

But on the streets of London the spectacular sea of runners will once more wind its way past famous tourist spots from Tower Bridge to Westminster and on to Buckingham Palace.

We love the London Marathon for the characters it attracts. It seems people are prepared to put themselves through pretty much anything to support their chosen cause.

Thanks this year then to Rob Duncombe whose 26.2 mile record attempt brought this smile-inducing headline Pharmacist hopes to beat world record at London Marathon dressed as a tree.

The record for the fastest marathon dressed in a tree costume (male) apparently stands at just over four hours. Go Rob!

Here are more inspiring tales of people achieving against the odds.

If you want to support on Sunday from the comfort of home then the BBC will have start-to-finish commentary and, of course, lots of interviews with pillar boxes, Spidermen and trees along the route.

If a marathon seems a bit too ambitious, many people, who wouldn’t consider themselves runners, have found a way into the sport by joining their local Parkrun. These weekly 5k events build up hugely loyal attendants who love the community, non-competitive feel.

We wrote about the appeal of Parkrun when events returned in summer 2021 following the pandemic.