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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 April, 2005, 14:01 GMT 15:01 UK
Thousands race in London Marathon
London Marathon
It took 15 minutes for everyone to pass the start line
Thousands of people, from fun-runners to club athletes, have crossed the finishing line in the 25th London Marathon.

More than 30,000 people pounded the streets on their 26.2-mile challenge from Greenwich to the Mall.

Briton Paula Radcliffe won the women's race in 2hrs 17mins 41secs, more than five minutes ahead of second place.

Martin Lel won the men's race, while Francesca Porcellato and Saul Mendoza won the wheelchair races.

Surprise stop

Radcliffe alarmed spectators, who feared another mid-race retirement, when she made an unexpected stop to take a toilet break by the side of the road.

The world record-holder sparked fears she was repeating her dramatic pull-out in the 2004 Athens Olympics.

"I have to apologise to the nation," she told BBC Sport. "I just had to stop. I didn't know how far I was in front."

A range of celebrities took part in the event, including chef Gordon Ramsay, television presenter Dermot O'Leary and both the Cheeky Girls.

The fastest celebrity was bookies' favourite Tony Audenshaw, who plays Bob Hope in television's Emmerdale. He completed the race in 3hrs 3min.

Chef Ramsay finished the race in just under 3hrs 20mins.

Rugby star Jonny Wilkinson, who was standing on the sidelines, told BBC Sport: "I'm proud to be here. I came last year and I think it's fantastic.

Runner dressed as sunflower

"I couldn't imagine this, we train short and sharp, and that's about enough."

Following tradition, a number of participants chose more unusual attire for the event, with outfits ranging from superheroes to animals.

Two men dressed as Sumo wrestlers told BBC Sport they found their costumes a little too warm. One said: "It's got to be the worst idea I've ever had."

Another runner, dressed as a red Indian, said he had planned to run with Radcliffe, but she was too fast.

"I'm called Big Chief Running Slow," he said.

A group of women raising money for a Cornish hospice were dressed in giant Cornish pastie costumes, while others dressed in schoolgirl uniforms or as cartoon characters.

Charity fundraiser

Radcliffe and Kenyan Tergat, who holds the men's world best time of 2:04.55, had been the pre-race favourites to lift the women's and men's titles.

Francesca Porcellato denied Dame Tanni Grey Thompson a seventh London win, as the British wheelchair racer finished third.

Organisers replaced the notorious Tower of London cobbles with a fast, flat stretch along the Highway, which helped to cut times. The Isle of Dogs loop is also being run anti-clockwise.

Runners set off from Greenwich, in south-east London, at 0945 BST to pound their way towards the finish line on the Mall, raising millions of pounds for charity along the way.

Men's race at the London Marathon
Kenya's Paul Tergat is the favourite to win the men's race

Olympic gold medallists Sir Steve Redgrave, James Cracknell and Haile Gebrselassie officially started the men's, women's and wheelchair races.

Entrants' ages ranged from 18 to 90 years, with some 160 runners celebrating their birthdays on race day.


WATCH AND LISTEN
Highlights: Paula Radcliffe crosses the finish line




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