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Extraordinary Ordinary People: The Unsung Heroes Of The London Marathon
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Every year for the last 30 years, London has played host to one of the country’s greatest sporting events, the London Marathon. It’s a fabulous occasion that has grown in numbers year by year with thousands of members of the public running the same route as the professional athletes and mixture of celebrities. As much as I admire the elite altheletes and their sporting prowess to run 26 miles in a little over 2hrs it is the ordinary members of the public who fascinate me most.

When I lived in London, I used to enjoy soaking up the atmosphere from Tower Bridge or one of the other iconic landmarks of London like the Cutty Sark, and there is nothing quite like it. Seeing so many extraordinary ordinary people running through the pain barrier, for that many miles some in bizarre costumes, refusing to give up has filled me with admiration.

I no longer live in London so i now watch the marathon from the warmth of my armchair. This year on a rare sunny day watching the television seems a silly thing to do, but I promised to look out for my 18 year old nephew who is running. Yes, I know its mad. The chances of seeing him are about zero, but it’s still fun to watch.

The bizarre costumes this year are much in evidence. There is a man running round doing the Rubix cube and apparently he’s won some sort of record. I’ve seen a man dressed as a toilet, a 20 strong brass band, two women dressed as Frank Spencer (which means something to some of us as a certain age) and a couple who were intending to get married after 20 miles. There was a man running in a motorcycle helmet for some reason I can’t quite remember and two people running as children’s chacters - one of who is in the middle of running from John of Groats to Lands End and had included the London Marathon in his schedule.

Of course not everyone runs in a costume many just run in ordinary running gear. Some of these people include the group who had already run a marathon starting at 5 in the morning and were doing their second one during the official race and a 75 year old man who was competing in his 105th marathon who was clearly having so much fun and with a wicked glint in his eye stole a kiss from the female interviewer who had stopped him for a chat. I saw a man who having finished the race surrounded by his family insisted that he was now passing the mantle to his 18 year old son. Apart from their extraordinary resilience, the one thing so many of these people have in common is that they were raising money for good causes.

Many of the people who take part of the London are inspired to run because of some personal tragedy and/or because of their commitment to various charities. As I watched and listened to these extraordinary ordinary people, I was struck by their incredible feats, many of them not just this once, but time and time again. These people are real unsung heroes and should be role models for people across the country.

When I listen to the news, I often want to hurl a cushion at the television, when they talk about sporting heroes. Heroes? Well in the true sense of the word, yes they are. They have performed extraordinary feats in their chosen field and admired and idealised by the public. Many of them also give pleasure to thousands of people every time they step into a sporting arena.

However, when people are talking about role models for young people, I can’t help wishing that it wasn’t just the footballers and other sportsmen who are held up as role models. I wish there was some way that these unsung heroes who work tirelessly for their chosen charities could get more recognition for what they do and have more opportunities to raise the profile of many of the small charities that they represent. They should be the role models for every dissatisfied young teenager or adult who can’t find the motivation to try and get a job, or lose weight or get some qualifications. No one hearing these stories can think these people have all had it easy. They clearly haven’t. But they’ve put their difficulties and sadness to one side to make a difference.

So next time you hear a newscaster talking about a hero, remember some of the extraordinary ordinary people who took part in the London Marathon – they are truly inspirational.


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