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Last Updated:  Monday, 7 April, 2003, 17:55 GMT 18:55 UK
Stars set for sweatathon
Sir Steve Redgrave and wife, Ann, in 2001
The Redgraves make a welcome return this year
Once again a host of celebrities will take to the streets for this year's London Marathon.

Stripped of all their regular glamour and glitz, spotting sweat-drenched stars among the 33,000 gluttons for punishment on Sunday is a sport in itself.

And for their fellow runners, seeing a celebrity on the final straight can inspire even the most exhausted competitor to an unlikely sprint finish.

Here are just some of the big names turning out for the gruelling 26.2-mile slog around England's capital.


Showbiz

Lisa (Lucy Benjamin) from Eastenders
Lisa has had plenty of running practice, trying to get away from Phil

Brenda Blethyn, star of the Mike Leigh film Secret And Lies, makes her second consecutive appearance, while Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels' Jason Flemyng is also set to take part.

Pint-sized TV presenter Dermot O'Leary has the chance to prove whether he is tough enough, along with CBBC's Michael 'Abs' Absolom and investigative journalist Donal MacIntyre.

As usual, the soaps are well-represented with plenty of past and present stars of Emmerdale and London's Burning.

But Lisa (Lucy Benjamin) from Eastenders tops the line-up - no doubt, looking forward to a swift half at the Queen Vic after the race.


Politicians

No marathon is complete without a few MPs doing their bit for 'CHARIDEE', such as Rotherham's Denis MacShane.

Labour's 'master of spin' Alastair Campbell swaps the political wrangles of Downing Street for the physical wrangles of a tortuous journey across London.

Elsewhere, Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic, HE Mikulás Dzurinda, becomes the first serving PM to run the race and boasts a time of 3:42:30 in New York two years ago.


Chefs

Gordon Ramsey
Will Ramsey run away with it?
For the first time, we seem to have a celebrity chef category as the famously temperamental Gordon Ramsey takes on Michel Roux Jr.

Ramsey, whose eponymous restaurant is one of only two in Britain to have been awarded three Michelin Stars, is no stranger to the Marathon, having completed it last year in 4:27:06.

But do not discount Roux, the head chef at London dinery Le Gavroche, who is a keen marathoner and has just released a book entitled The Marathon Chef.


Sport

After a one-year absence, five-time gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave returns to the Marathon with his wife, Ann.

No doubt, Mark Hughes knows about pain and heartache, but whether that is enough to prepare the former Manchester United player and current Wales' manager for Sunday remains to be seen.

He is joined by another coach, Clive Woodward, who recently masterminded England's Grand Slam success in rugby's Six Nations competition.

Bare-footed runner Zola Budd-Pieterse, who has long been out of the public eye since her infamous run-in with Mary Decker-Slaney in the 1984 Olympics, will undoubtedly grab a few curious stares.

But likely to receive the warmest welcome will be Michael Watson, the former World Middleweight Boxer who suffered severe brain damage in career ending title fight with Chris Eubank, running on behalf of the Brain and Spine Foundation.


D-list

Bubble (Paul Ferguson) from Big Brother 2
It's ...er, you know, thingy who was in Big Brother ONCE
Sadly, every event has to have their D-list celebrities and the London Marathon is no exception.

Headlining the list this year is Paul Ferguson, otherwise known as 'Bubble' from Big Brother 2.

If you still have no idea who this is, don't worry, you are not alone.



Links to more London Marathon 2003 stories


 

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