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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 April, 2004, 18:55 GMT 19:55 UK
Marathon spirit high despite rain
London Marathon competitor
Marathon takes its toll on runner
Thousands of people braved driving rain and unseasonably cold temperatures to take part in the 24th London Marathon on Sunday.

Some 33,000 competitors - from the professional athletes, to celebrities and members of the public - took part.

Crowds lined the 26.2-mile course to cheer on participants - including 93-year-old Fauja Singh.

Meanwhile Evans Rutto and Margaret Okayo made it a double Kenyan victory in the men's and women's races.

Fun-runners

Rain showers greeted those who crossed the finish line in the afternoon, after a dry start to the race in the morning when the professional and wheelchair athletes' events began.

Despite the heavy downpours, many runners seemed elated at the end of the race as they set off home wrapped in foil blankets and sipping cups of tea.

The watching crowd took as much interest in the fun-runners and celebrities as they did in the battle of the elite runners chasing qualification times for the Olympic Games.

Along the course, which passes some of the nation's most famous landmarks, around 500,000 spectators turned out to clap and cheer runners past Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf and through the City of London.

Selected celebrity finishers
Tony Audenshaw 3.00:07
Richard Dunwoody 3.17:00
Gordon Ramsay 3.18:54
Sir Ranulph Fiennes 3.43:12
Adrian Moorhouse 3.55:00
Floella Benjamin 4.52:53
Graham Taylor 5.05:30
Charlie Brooks 5.23:38
Jeffrey Archer 5.26:24
Lorraine Kelly 5.57:26
Fauja Singh 6.07:13
Charles Ingram 6.09:39

Actor Tony Audenshaw, who plays Bob Hope in Emmerdale, was the first celebrity to cross the finish line in three hours and seven seconds - his personal best.

Meanwhile, Gordon Ramsay not only lost the battle of the celebrity chefs to Michel Roux but admitted on BBC One after the race that he had also lost a purely domestic battle with his wife Tana.

'Camaraderie'

He was running for the charity Tommy's and said: "We had premature twins so it's nice to give something back."

BBC News Online's Rob Liddle - taking part for the Running For Ella campaign to help find a cure for cystic fibrosis - was happy to finish in a commendable four hours 55mins.

"It went better than I thought. The camaraderie of the other runners and spectators was fantastic and really spurred me on," he said.

Jockey Richard Dunwoody was just shy of his target time, finishing in three hours and 17 minutes.

He said: "The weather kept it cool. I would have preferred it without rain."

Former record-breaking runner Sir Roger Bannister, England rugby star Jonny Wilkinson and the IAAF's Lamine Diack officially started the main race.

Before the start, Wilkinson said: "I'm proud to be here. I can't believe the ability of these people. They just seem to glide along."

Marathon fun runners
Marathon bananas unfazed by weather

Other sportsmen taking part in the race included ex-cricketer Graham Gooch, former swimmer Adrian Moorhouse and ex-England football manager Graham Taylor.

Men's winner Evans Rutto earlier had a near-disaster when he and eventual runner-up Sammy Korir tripped over a barrier and fell onto the wet cobbles.

Mexico's Saul Mendoza won the men's wheelchair race, despite taking a wrong turn having followed a police motorbike around the Cutty Sark.

EastEnders' Charlie Brooks, who plays Janine Butcher in the BBC One soap opera, was running for Marie Curie Cancer Care while co-star Chris Parker (Spencer Moon) was raising money for Barnado's.




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