Marathon Marvels

48 brave women and men ran their hearts out to raise money for Saint Francis Hospice in Sunday's Virgin Money London Marathon.
London Marathon
48 brave women and men ran their hearts out to raise money for Saint Francis Hospice in Sunday's Virgin Money London Marathon. 

Among them was a quartet of colleagues from Sky Sports Soccer Saturday. Reporter Johnny Phillips was joined by producers Christian Cotter, Andy Grey and Jack Baxter for the 26.2 mile run on Sunday 26th April. They were supporting Saint Francis Hospice, because Jack's Dad Dave received care from the charity before he sadly lost his five month battle with cancer in September 2013. 

Jack, from Brentwood, said: "I believe that if not for the care of the hospice, I'd have said goodbye to my Dad far sooner than I had to. Their services, funded mainly by charitable donations, allowed me a further three months with my best friend and for this I will always be grateful." 

Jack (pictured waving in the crowd of runners below) who completed the race in 4.31 hours, said, "I was aiming for around 4.30 hours so I paced myself perfectly. The atmosphere was absolutely amazing. It was my first marathon but it will not be my last. I hope to do it again for Saint Francis Hospice next year." 

Jack said he didn't struggle at any point and added: "I was worried about the dreaded wall but I thought of my dad and where the money was going and that pushed me on."   

Christian Cotter, 27, said he started to struggle after the 15 mile point but he was spurred on to the finish line when he met the hospice team at the 23 mile point. Christian, who was thrilled to finish in 3.54 hours, also said the team had smashed their £7,000 target and so far had raised £10,300. "I was so pleased," said Christian. "When I started training I was hoping to finish in under 4 hours but I had a few niggles and a knee injury during training so by the day I just wanted to complete it." 

Andy Gray, 27, who ran in the 2013 London Marathon, finished in just 3.14 hours, beating his previous best time of 4 hours. Andy said he started to flag at the 21 mile mark but then managed to get back into gear. "I managed to keep at a steady pace all the way through but the 21 to 24 mile point took it out of my legs. But at mile 25 I was at my quickest. I think it was the adrenalin. It really kicked in and I knew I wanted to finish in a good time." 

Sunday's race was the third time Johnny Phillips, 41, has taken part in the world famous London Marathon and he was pleased to have finished in 3.35 hours, less than four minutes short of his personal best. 

The father of two said: "I've run it three times and it does not get any easier. I never really hit a wall but when I got to 18 miles I knew I was not going to beat my best time. You cannot beat the sense of achievement when you cross the finishing line. It is so emotional." 

Also taking part on Sunday was Frazer Robertson, from Hainault, who dressed up as Saint Francis Hospice mascot Frankie the Lion. Frazer, (pictured above left and below) an IT Technician, said: "The day was unforgettable, the support of the crowds for myself and of course Frankie in the suit was something I've never experienced. Despite my ankle giving in sooner than I would have liked I was determined to finish for the hospice. They provide the very best support and care and it was the least I could do to ensure Frankie got to the end in style. There were tears inside the suit at the end and I am honoured to have completed the race for Saint Francis Hospice in 5 hours and 5 minutes. I like to top my challenges year on year but struggle to think how I could top Sunday!" 

Before setting off on the marathon Paul met up with 90-year-Paul Freedman from Hornchurch in the Red Start area. 90-year-old Hammers fan Paul Freedman only took up running at the age of 61, but the 2015 London Marathon was Paul's 24th London marathon and his fourth time as the oldest runner. He was the oldest runner in 2011, 2013 and 2014. 2015 was his 18th London Marathon for Saint Francis Hospice, the hospice that cared for his wife Teeny. 

Speaking on Monday after the race Paul said: "Unfortunately I had to stop at 22 miles as I was already over 8 hours and therefore wouldn't qualify for a medal this year. I went to see the doctor for a regular appointment today and he said I was fine to carry on with my keep fit regime so long as I don't overdo it on the aerobics. It's a shame I couldn't get a medal this year on my 24th running of the London marathon but whatever happens in the future I'll keep on supporting Saint Francis Hospice." 

Katy Woodgate, the hospice's Acting Events and Community Manager, said: "The efforts of all of our runners was amazing. We are already confident that they have helped raise more than £80,000 to enable the hospice to continue providing its vital services, free of charge, to people in our community who need them."