The London Marathon receives over 80,000 applicants each year
To mark the 25th anniversary of the London Marathon, BBC Sport asked you to send in your memories of the race - no matter how painful.
After crossing the finish line of the London Marathon, it is a safe bet you will try to forget what you have just put your body through.
But that did not stop you digging deep to re-tell tales of your experience of the capital's 26.2 mile-event and what motivated you to do it in the first place.
Below is a selection of your marathon memories from the past 25 years.
I ran the Flora London marathon last year with my Dad and became the first known kidney transplant recipient to run it. My Dad took care of me when I was on dialysis and flew over from the U.S. especially to run it with me so it was very special.
I had to be very careful with my training because I am on immunosuppressants. Reaching the finishing line was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and we raised lots of money for the National Kidney Research Foundation.
People would not describe me as an emotional person; but, if they could see close-ups of me running the London Marathon course they would see real tears.
It is the fantastic cheering and encouragement of the crowds (and runners) that stirs the emotions. Also the knowledge that so many are running to support their favoured charities: many, no doubt, with personal and touching stories to tell about why they are running for a particular charity.
I'll be running my eleventh London Marathon this year and it will be the third time I will have raised money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
My 26-year-old daughter has MS and running the London Marathon for the MSS is something I feel I must do: run for the benefit of many that can't. It's good therapy!
It is a stupid distance to run! 20 miles is OK, even 23, but most long-distance runners will tell you that 26 is something else! So, will I keep entering? Of course - there's no event quite like it.
David Howells, England
After waiting at the start for so long guzzling sports drinks I found myself in the unfortunate position of having a completely full bladder just as the starting pistol was fired. I could see numerous runners jumping down driveways during the first mile and thought I may as well empty now rather than later, so jumped down the next driveway.
The drive was quite concealed, but as I watered the hedgerow I heard loud clapping and cheering. I looked up to see a balcony full of young females admiring the view. By the time I had finished there was a line of runners down the driveway all watering the hedge. I think the spectators saw a bit more than they expected.
Matt Giles, England
I started running after the plaster came off from a broken wrist but the weight of a sedentary life needed a big shift. I entered the London Marathon lottery shortly afterwards and was rejected. I then called about 5 charities that I could believe in and The Guide Dogs were the first ones who responded positively. I then trained vigorously with the incentive of many pledges of friends, family and work colleagues behind me.
The day of the marathon (2003) was warm and sunny with tremendous atmosphere. Nervous as can be, I set off and finished with no real problems 4 hours and 51 minutes later. I was totally exhilarated by the experience - moved by all the charity shirts around me, the wonderful and usually very funny costumes (especially Elvis), and tremendously supportive crowds. When I finished, I vowed to run more marathons.
I kept up my running, joined the Serpentine Running Club, have run 2 more marathons since then, including New York where my time has been cut slightly to 4:37. With the help of gift aid, I have raised about £8,000 now for the Guide Dogs and would not conceive of running a marathon without raising money for charity.
Training for, and then completing, the London Marathon was one of the best experiences of my life - I was 45 years old when I ran it - it gave me added confidence and I never now pass a guide dog or sight-impaired person without thinking of the London Marathon and what a great experience it has been.
Sally Rowley-Williams, United Kingdom
I have not run the London since 1992, but ran it on three other occasions in the '80s - best net time around 3.36. On one occasion, I think '87, I had been experiencing terrible trouble with blisters prior to the event, caused by using cotton socks!! I was so focussed that I had got used to running in extreme discomfort in training.
On the day, the pain started as early as the point where the routes merge. It was awful and I did have to stop a couple of times in the later stages, just for a momentary respite. Anyway, it got to the point where it made no difference as I felt every step.
Swearing I would throw the shoes away at the end and invest in some decent ones I got to the bus and took one shoe off, to find a very generous sized blood blister and blood stained sock. I took the other one off to find the sock red with blood. I then felt a lump as I flexed my toes inside the ball of by big toe. This turned out to be a 2p coin wedged solid. The imprint was perfect but the skin had broken all around it. I felt a complete fool and caused some amusement with the runners who looked on. One at least was kind enough to remark that he wondered how fast I might have gone under normal circumstances. It sounds unbelievable but it is true.
Sadly my Mum who tended the damage is no longer alive to ratify the tale. Though not married at the time, my wife heard the story from my Mum. I did take pics but cannot find them at present. Blisters have never worried me much since, and though I run only a little these days I always shake my shoes before putting them on!
I was at a friend's house one evening. We had both been granted entry onto the 2000 Flora London Marathon (FLM). After several bottles of wine around the dinner table one of us (it's all a bit hazy to remember whose idea it was) suggested that we should do the FLM three-legged. So we tied ourselves together with a tea towel and did a lap of her lawn. No problem!
Came the dawn and we met over the breakfast table. "Well then," says she, "are we still up for it then?" "I don't know about you," I said, but I'm not going to be the one who backs out. You can if you want."
And thus ensued a battle of stubborn wills. Neither wanting to back down it was agreed. 2000 would be the year that Ben Scott and Jo Gittens did the FLM three-legged, dressed as fairies. The Althorpe half marathon proved to be a deceptively easy training run. At least it was for me, Jo forgot her sports bra but managed to bounce her way round!
And so we made it to Blackheath on a fresh April morn. Two fairies blended in with the multitude of fancy dress completely un-noticed. It was only when we stooped to tie out legs together that we started to get odd looks. As we wrapped our tried and tested black woollen scarf around our ankles, we became aware of an increasing number of double takes. Comments started to come, "You're not?" "Well, you know, we thought we'd give it a go"
So as the starting gun was being loaded we shuffled to the back of the pack. And then....BANG...we were off.
5 hours, 45 minutes, and some seconds later we staggered over the finish line vowing never to do it again. In fact after discussing what adventure we'd do next we dismissed the egg and spoon idea, the sack race style, and finally settled on..........the parents race, they can do it next time!
Ben Scott, Isle of Man, UK
I ran the first London Marathon and each one until 1986, returning to London in 2004 to run in aid of Cancer Research and Children with Leukaemia. I have run each of the London races for a charity and will run again in 2005 for Claire House Hospice and Children with Leukaemia.
I will perhaps be unique in having run the first and 25th event. In 1984 I ran for the Mirrorthon Team in aid of Muscular Dystrophy and was delighted as the fastest runner in the team 2hrs 29mins to meet the Patron and Harry Carpenter during the post race reception. I still have a photograph of that and me leaving Greenwich Park in the 1981 Marathon.
Richard Horner, England
In 2002 I managed to get into the Marathon through Barnsley Athlectics Club's guaranteed place. My Father I knew was dying with enzythema, been a coal miner most of his working life. Fortunately he lived long enough to know that I completed it. In 2004 I got in again through the club, and ran to raise money for Grimethorpe's St Luke's Church.
I got up on the morning of the race at 3pm with a bout of diarrhoea and sickness. I drank large amounts of liquids to help, but after 16 miles I was so bad I began walking, I felt sick wanting to stop and pack in. But then I thought of what I had put in the article, and some how kept going each mile been agony both mentally and physically.
Being 10 minutes up on a PB at half way and about on course for a 4 hour finish, I eventually finished in 5hrs 6mins. There are times when we think life is hard, but that is nothing to what millions of other people suffer daily.
When I run again this year I will again be aiming at 4hours and under, but just to complete I know will be an achievement and make people here on earth and in heaven proud.
I'd wanted to run the London Marathon since watching it on the TV when I was a boy. The first time I did it was in 2003. I injured my knee the week before and it only held out for 2 miles on the big day. I ran for 24 miles in pain and it was as much as I could do to stay upright for the last six.
However the joy of running down the final straight, the goosebumps as the crowd roared and the realisation that after months of hard work and hours of pain I was finally realising my goal made all of it worthwhile. I always tell people to give it a go just once as then you'll have at least one heroic story to tell the grandchildren!
Tim Fry, Wales, UK
I ran the second London Marathon in 1982. I was 16, under age, so I jumped in the start and run without a number. I got around in 3:45hr. I was still given a medal and space blanket! I ran again last year, aged 38 and completed in 3:38hr. 22 years of running for 7 minutes improvement!!!!
Richard Craig-McFeely, UK
Bob Frith, a friend, a sprinter who held the World Best for 50 metres, (5.5 seconds) the shortest distance for which World Bests are recorded, ran his first London Marathon, a long way for sprinters, in 2003, raising £10,000 for SightSavers (he is an Optician), runs the 2005 London Marathon for the same charity.
Frith held the record for the most wins in the AAA Champs 60 metres (four) being beaten last year by Jason Gardener's fifth win. Frith won two European Indoor sprint silver medals only beaten by Olympic 100m & 200m gold medallist, Valeri Borzov. Marathons hurt for sprinters.
Andrew Ronay, England
My story may have its own part of London Marathon history attached to it, I would like to think so. For me it was also a turning point in not only my athletic life but my outlook on life too.
It was the 2002 marathon and the year of Paula Radcliffe and Jane Tomlinson, and at the time lesser know me and a chap called Ben Walsgrove. I was not having a particular marathon day, and was out to finish regardless of time. It was in the closing mile entering Birdcage walk that a new chapter in my life would begin.
Jogging and walking just to keep the momentum going, even with the massive crowds cheering you on was a struggle. I passed two guys struggling, one holding the other up. In the back of my mind something said go and help. The whole race was rushing by as everyone was aiming for home and the finish line in sight. But here I was in an unselfish situation aiding a fellow runner.
Ben was his name, and sported a pained expression. By the way he was standing on one leg it looked as if he had twisted his ankle. There was one thing on Ben's mind and that was to finish, no matter what the pain. The only why he was going to collect his charity money was by crossing that finish line. I had never met anyone with such determination, even in such great pain.
So we supported him on our tired shoulders and slowly edged our way down Birdcage walk, 50 yards at a time. Then we would pause and off we would go again. St Johns and first aiders tried to come to Ben's aid, but he was having none of it, he was going to finish and that determination and guts were contagious, because Pete the other guy and I were going to get Ben across the finish line whatever it took.
Runners urged us on, patted our backs as they sped past and applauded our effort. The spectators began to take notice and cheered Ben and my names as they we on our vests. The roars and encouragement became louder as we approached Buckingham Palace and the final turn to the finish.
A few more last efforts and we were metres before the line. I noticed we were on the big TV screen. Course officials came to greet us and I remonstrated with one who said "We'll take him from here..!" There was no way. We had carried Ben the best part of a mile, we were going to finish together, and the finish line photo shows our three feet on the line.
Paramedics quickly took Ben away, and we thought that would be the last we would see of him. Pete disappeared into the crowd. It wasn't until back in my hotel room that what I did that day would begin to hit home. Lying on my hotel bed watching the highlights the whole scenario was re-enacted. As Paul Dickinson commented on our camaraderie, "This proves the point you don't have to be mad to run a marathon...but it helps!"
You would think the story finishes here, but no. On Tuesday morning at work, I got a phone call. It was Ben. I asked how he was and stunned at his reply. He was calling from his hospital bed after an operation. He had undergone surgery to pin his femur back together again. Ben had actually had a stress fracture in the bone that joins his leg to his hip and that had snapped in the later stages of the marathon. His story was in the national press and the news.
We had carried him unbeknown with this injury to the finish of the marathon. I can't describe how I felt, and still can't today. That has to be the proudest moment of my life. Ben was running for Whizz Kidz and raised £15,000 to aid mobility aids for kids. If we hadn't of helped Ben that day he would not have collected that money.
What was a turning point in my life, was being invited to the Whizz Kidz marathon thank you party. It would be a chance to be reunited with Ben. I also learnt about the work of Whizz kidz and I am now a volunteer for them, and helping encourage and motivate their marathon team, helping others to achieve their marathon goal. But always in the back of my mind is that day and Ben's determination to achieve his goal.
I am lucky enough to be one of the 'everpresents'. There are now only 29 of us left who have run all 24 London Marathons so far! The London Marathon are hosting a dinner for us this year, but not sure yet when it is. Personally my biggest memory will always be breaking the three hour barrier by one second in 1991!
The last 400 metres were a mad sprint. Two years ago I got injured three weeks before so I walked it in over six hours - a very different experience with a stop for beer and barbequed chicken on the way round!
Ran my first London back in 1984 and I shall never forget running over Tower Bridge with the crowds 10 deep on the bridge and the hairs on the back of my neck standing up. having trained up to 65 miles a week I was going well only to be passed by the pantomime horse in the last few miles, great day everyone should run one (london ) during their lifetime.
I entered my first London Marathon in 2003 at the age of 52, it was a fabulous day, you just seem to get pulled around the course by the crowds, who just make it so great a day, it didn't even bother me being passed by a rhino and a telephone box, I finished the course and said never again, once bitten twice shy.
Whilst lounging on my sofa last summer my two daughters asked me if I wanted to enter with them, so here we go again, and I am looking forward to this one more than the last. We are running for the Charity VICTA.
Brinley Jones, Wales
I ran the 1997 event in aid of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. I ran mainly with my friend and running companion, Debbie, neither of us terribly speedy, and that's an understatement.
We were on Tower Bridge, with a guy dressed as Big Ben in front and I spotted the BBC cameraman going over to him. "Come on, let's look like we're real runners for 100 metres!" So we gave it our all and indeed, watching the round-up coverage that evening - there we were, on the telly. Ever so many people spotted us - amazing. And I still have the tape!
I did finish - beaten by the duck but I beat the rabbit.
It is a brilliant event, made by the huge, enthusiastic and knowledgeable crowds everywhere you go. But run it again? No - been there, done that, got the t-shirt. I'll be in the crowd on April 17th.
Judy Howlett, England
1985 knackered at 22 miles but trying to keep going as my family were at the 25 miles in the Mall. Suddenly my tiredness disappeared as I saw a disabled athlete in a wheelchair just ahead of me. His name I believe was Peter Hull (he was picked up by the BBC on the day and his name read out).
Peter had only two stumps for his arms and with fitted crutches he was propelling himself along with the aid of his crutches. This man inspired me in the face of adversity. After checking that he was alright and getting him water I ran just behind him to the finish.
I was inspired, like the crowd that loudly cheered him. It was for me a brilliant but humbling experience that made me think deeply what we can all achieve. Peter I saluted you then and now nearly 20 years on I will always remember your brilliant effort, which put my whinging and tiredness to shame.
I have since coached many runners up to international level - when they moan, I tell them about Peter and his great effort.
Peter Clifford, England
This year will be the fifth time I have ran the London Marathon, having first completed the course in 2000. I started out as an "unattached" runner, raising money for various animal charities both locally and nationally. The first time I started with "the masses", but having enjoyed it so much, I trained harder and over the past couple of years I have knocked half an hour off my PB. This has meant a place on the Championship Start line this year, and what a way to celebrate the 25th anniversary for me!
To say I'm a little scared is an understatement, but the excitement of being so close to the elite runners who have inspired me over the years is just so exciting! I'm sure it'll be a completely different experience, but I'm certain I won't be disappointed.
Adela Salt, England
I ran my first London Marathon with my training buddy and 2 girl friends in 2003, fancy dress was the order of the day so the girls were in rabbit outfits, I was a nurse (running in a dress is very practical in hot weather), and the other was in a Strawberry outfit (he works for, and was sponsored by a supermarket chain).
For 2004 we thought we'd make it a little different; giant banana outfits. Myself as the larger of us, scored the "Lady" banana suit... just over five feet of fluffy yellow materials, plastic tube framework and internal straps. Due to the outfits being used for promotional purposes (NOT including marathons), we only received the outfits the day before.
Race day was a mad scramble of applying padding, adjusting straps, and praying the contraptions would hold together. It was a cold, rainy and windy day, so the suits acted like parachutes... but they were very warm indeed! The rain must have added on a couple of kilos in extra weight during the 4 and a half hours of plodding.
My nose and shoulders were bleeding from the mesh covering the banana's eyes and straps respectively (thank you to St Johns Ambulance for the bandage/padding replenishment en route); we were less than convinced these outfits were a good idea. But as always, the crowds were brilliant and provided the lift you need, and once you get to 20 miles, you're too close not to make it!
Not an enjoyable run, but an immensely satisfying experience (the photos were hilarious)...and the last time we dress up for sure!
Craig Morling, Australia
1982 May 9th only year race held in May and it was my 47th Birthday. I could have run sub three hours. I dilly dallied by running with 'Superman' trying to get TV coverage. Got home, watched TV - nothing. Waited till highlights in the evening and there we were me and Superman running past the Cutty Sark. The bonus was 'Sportsreview of the Year: The London Marathon only got brief coverage - Hugh Jones winning, and out of all of the rest of the race the bit that got shown? Me and Superman running past the Cutty Sark
This year will be my tenth London Marathon and I have raised money for different charities each year. I always get a lump in my throat and very emotional when I cross the start line as it is then that you realise that everyone around you is also raising money for charity.
I ran in New York last year but it doesn't compare to London.
Nigel Taylor, United Kingdom
When I was 11, I went with my family to watch my Dad run the London Marathon. My abiding memories of that day are Jimmy Saville running over my foot as I sat on the kerb and my Dad passed out on the bed of our London hotel.
Eleven years later, my Dad and I ran the marathon together, during one of the most painful, but rewarding experiences of my life.
Three months on from that, he walked me up the aisle to the theme tune from the London Marathon.I couldn't have felt prouder!
Hannah , England
My daughter Victoria is running in the London Marathon on 17 April - the same day as she turns 18 (you have to be 18 to run).
She will therefore be if not the youngest runner then equal youngest runner in the race (her 15 minutes of fame).
Over the last two years myself and Victoria have been training for this event. Grueling miles upon miles of road training during the winter months, with multiple laps of Richmond Park on a Saturday afternoon.
Nigel Froud, England
This year will be my fifth London Marathon but when I'm on the embankment, I always say to myself, never, never again. Then the application arrives and I feel like Charlie finding the golden ticket.
Bring on the embankment!
Iain Wedge , UK
My first marathon was at London in 1987. I was on course for my target of two hours 50 mins when I started seeing flashing lights.
I gradually lost consciouness and the next thing I remember was waking up lying on my back. I thought I was still on the course and asked to get up, but found I was on a drip and had a medal round my neck.
Later that night after several beers I watched myself with a grey face and a grey vest being commented on by David Coleman as being "clearly in trouble" staggering down birdcage walk.
My finish picture shows me propped up inches from the line not knowing where I was.
Bob Garland, England