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Great effort by local marathon runners

Edward Bailey from Stratford and cousin Richard
Edward Bailey from Stratford and cousin Richard

LOCAL competitors in this year’s London Marathon took on the challenge of a lifetime and returned some impressive performances in what has been recorded as the hottest on record.

Edward Bailey, from Stratford (6hrs 17) and his cousin Richard Roberts (6hrs 4) both crossed the finish line and have raised over £5,000 for Whizz Kidz.

Ed’s father, Tim, said: “They found it incredibly exhilarating and completely exhausting but were carried along by the crowds offering everything from strawberries to sun cream. Together they have raised over £5,000 for Whizz Kidz. I asked if they’d ever do it again? “Never and maybe” were their replies!”

Stratford resident, 39-year-old Jennifer Unsworth, completed the London Marathon in 6 hours and 34 minutes.

She said: “It was tough training over the cold, snowy winter and a bit of a shock to the system running in yesterday's heat. That said, the London marathon is an incredible experience and I met some wonderful people.”

She had a place in the 2017 marathon, but deferred it after an injury. She took part in this year’s race in memory of her former housemate, Craig ‘Fog’ Foster, while she studied for her PhD at the School of Pharmacy, University of Nottingham. Her friend died in the summer of 2014, and Mind helped him while he was in hospital.

She raised approximately £2,600 for Mind and she continues her fundraising efforts as she’s pledged to run 500 miles through 2018, with 263 completed so far, including this year’s marathon.

Royal Shakespeare Company actor Graeme Brookes said the first 15 miles were perfect but then the going got tough and the last five were particularly punishing as he finished in 5hrs 15.

He’s raised £2,500 for the National Deaf Children’s Society and while the experience was, as he describes, “beautiful” he did see some people collapsing because of the pavement heat which measured 28 degrees centigrade.

“It was a really amazing experience. There were people who I hadn’t seen for decades cheering me on. It was a pure community experience regardless of race or religion it was a British experience where everyone came together,” Graeme told the Herald. He was back in time for rehearsals at the theatre in Stratford 10am on Monday and has already signed up for the Shakespeare Marathon on Sunday 13th May.

Katie Wheeler from Alcester said: “It was good, very hot and tough and I did it in 6 hrs 34 mins. The total raised so far £1,226 but that will stay open for a while to allow more donations afterwards. It was an amazing experience with everyone cheering your name and supporting you.” Katie raised money for Warwickshire Wildlife Trust.

David Phillips from Claverdon completed his 492 marathon since he started running in 1982. On Sunday he raised a further £10,000 and presented the cheque to former Olympic and World Champion hurdler Colin Jackson. It takes Dave’s total for the Brain and Spine Foundation to £117,000 from his marathons. He hopes to complete his 500th marathon in Stratford next year by which time he will be aged 75. “I did Sunday’s marathon in 6hrs 16. We all had to take on a lot of water because of the heat but it was a magical day,” said David.

Stratford’s Stephen Kempton raised £1,225 for Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance in what was his first marathon; his target was £1,000. He completed the race in 4hrs and 25mins.

National Air Ambulance attend around 1,000 missions a year - each costing around £1,700 and provide the best possible pre-hospital care and rapid transport to specialist hospitals, to those suffering serious injury and illness.

Four Stratford Running Club members completed the London Marathon too.

Stratford resident 46-year-old Nicola Reynolds ran the London Marathon for the first time. She finished with a time of 4.59.

She said: “It was my first ever marathon full stop. It was absolutely an amazing experience. I just couldn’t believe how many people were there. The noise of the crowd all the way around the route really spurred you on and lifted you.”

Nicola didn’t have a charity place in the marathon, but she started a Just Giving page and raised around £1,000 for the League of Friends of Leaming Spa Hospital where they specialise in stroke and brain injury recovery.

She added: “My father died of a stroke 30 years ago this year, and once I got the opportunity to do the marathon I thought it’s perfect timing to do something in his memory.”

Another Stratford Running Club member Ryan Bakewell ran the London Marathon, which was also his first marathon. Ryan finished it in 4.52.

Ryan, 30, who lives in Wellesbourne, said: “It was a fantastic experience all round, although the heat made it quite challenging. I'm glad to have collected the finish medal but it was a very tough day.

“The heat really got to me and I just couldn't stay cool - this meant the pace I'd been training for and aiming to run at went completely out the window. By mile 7 I was in survival mode. Calf cramps added to the fun at mile 15, followed by the need to dodge many other collapsed runners on the route. Is was not pretty, not particularly fun,

mentally draining, but fantastic to take part in such an uplifting and positive event. It really is a force for good in a difficult world.”

Another Stratford Running Club member Waleed Agabani, who also lives in Wellesbourne, ran in the London Marathon for the fourth time, which also became his 23rd marathon in total.

“It was one of my worst and most painful ones. I think the wheels just came off from the heat, and I started getting cramps. I had to grin and bear it to get through it. Last year I did 3.22 and this year I managed 4.19. It’s kind of disappointing, but I’m glad I finished. I’ll definitely do it again and try and get my time back up to normal.”

Another Stratford Runners Club member, Simon Bolton, finished London Marathon with a time of 3.35.

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