Spirit of London
The 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon celebrated the unique spirit of the world’s greatest marathon, showcasing the extraordinary stories of its runners, champions, volunteers and supporters through the Spirit of London campaign.
On Race Day in 2017, millions of people around the world were moved by the sight of Swansea Harrier Matthew Rees helping David Wyeth down The Mall to the Finish Line. That moment encapsulated the unique spirit of the London Marathon.
Wyeth and Rees were named as the first winners of the new Spirit of London award and they were followed by the announcement that former boxer Michael Watson - who completed the 2003 London Marathon 12 years after suffering severe brain injuries in a world title fight – would be the third recipient of the award.
Spirit of London award winners
- Matthew Rees & David Wyeth: The moving footage of Matt stopping on The Mall to help David finish last year went viral and touched millions round the world. David has worked with medical experts to find out what went so wrong after his meticulous preparations and he has made that research available to all runners.
- Michael Watson: In September 1991, Michael received life-threatening head injuries during a world title fight with Chris Eubank – a contest that is now one of the most famous in British boxing history. He was in a coma for 40 days and spent six years in a wheelchair but in April 2003 he completed the London Marathon, walking the route in six days and raising money for the Brain & Spine Foundation charity.
- Steve Chalke: The record for most money raised for charity at the London Marathon – indeed at any marathon worldwide – is held by Reverend Steve Chalke MBE. The Londoner raised a jaw-dropping £2,330,159.38 when he completed the 2011 race. Rev Chalke is the leader of the Oasis Charitable Trust and is a prominent social activist.
- Charlie Dark: DJ and poet Charlie formed Run Dem Crew (RDC) in London in 2007 as an alternative to more traditional running clubs. RDC is committed to change and works closely with young people across London providing mentoring and advice along with the opportunity to explore London in a safe, unique, positive and supportive environment.
- Jill Tyrrell: On 7 July 2005, Jill was on the same carriage as a suicide bomber who blew up an underground train travelling between King’s Cross and Russell Square. Twenty-six people died on that train and a total of 52 people died on the same day of co-ordinated terror attacks on London which became known as 7/7. Jill spent two-and-a-half months in hospital following the attack but recovered well enough to take part in the 2006 London Marathon.
- Fauja Singh: Fauja is the oldest person to have ever finished the London Marathon. He was 93 years old when he completed the 2004 race. Now aged 107, Fauja was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to sport and charity.
- Claude Umuhire: After surviving the Rwandan genocide as a child, Claude came to London with his mother. Years later, after finding himself homeless on the streets of the capital, he was introduced to running by The Running Charity. This helped transform his life and in 2015 he ran the London Marathon for the charity.
- Chris Moon: Chris knows exactly what it takes to overcome adversity. In 1995, he was blown up in Africa clearing landmines for a charity and lost his lower arm and leg. Less than a year after leaving hospital he completed the London Marathon. He has since gone on to run 14 London Marathons, raising thousands of pounds for charity.
- Claire Lomas: The first person in London Marathon history to complete the route in a bionic suit. Claire was paralysed after an accident riding a horse in 2007 and walked the London Marathon route in 2012, taking 16 days to cover the 26.2 miles.
- Rhian Burke: Rhian was part of the Mind Over Marathon team who completed the 2017 London Marathon for Heads Together to raise awareness of mental health. She was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder following a double tragedy in 2012 when her one-year-old son George died from pneumonia and then her husband, overwhelmed by grief, committed suicide a few days later. It left Rhian as a single mother to her two other children. She has set up the charity 2 Wish Upon a Star to help other bereaved families.
- Roy Webber: 71-year-old Roy has volunteered at every London Marathon since the very first event in 1981 through his involvement with the 23rd Camberwell Scouts.
- Dick Beardsley & Inge Simonsen: The joint winners of the first London Marathon in 1981 who famously crossed the line hand in hand after neither could break the other runner over the previous 26.2 miles. Dick, from the USA, and Inge, from Norway, showed the true spirit of marathon running and forged a friendship that lasts to this day.
- Joyce Smith: The British Olympian and former 3000m world record holder won the inaugural London Marathon in 1981 in 2:29:57 at the age of 43. She returned the next year to win again in 2:29:43 and became the oldest woman to win the race at 44 years and 195 days which remains a London Marathon record.
- Simon Kindleysides: The first paralysed man to complete the London Marathon. Kindleysides took more than 36 hours to complete the 2018 event in an exoskeleton suit, raising funds for The Brain Tumour Charity.
- David Weir: David is the most successful athlete in London Marathon history and in 2018 won his eighth elite men’s wheelchair race. David started his career competing in the Mini Marathon and as well as his victories in London, he went on to win six Paralympic gold medals including four at the London 2012 Paralympics. Along with coach Jenny Archer, Weir runs the Weir Archer Academy with the goal to increase participation in disability sport and nurture the next generation of Paralympians.
- Tanni Grey-Thompson: The winner of six London Marathon titles between 1992 and 2002 and one of the most successful disabled athletes in British history. Tanni, who was born with spina bifida, won 11 Paralympic gold medals and held more than 30 world records during her career.
- Kathrine Switzer: One of the great trailblazers in the push for gender equality in sport, Kathrine famously challenged the all-male bastion of distance running by becoming the first woman to enter, officially race and complete the Boston Marathon in 1967. She defied a race official who tried to forcibly remove her from the course and completed the race. She ran wearing the number 261 and that has since become a symbol of women’s equality and her own fundraising organisation, 261 Fearless. In 2018, on the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the UK, Switzer completed the Virgin Money London Marathon for the first time, aged 71, wearing her famous 261 number.
- Charlie Guenigault: Met Police officer Charlie was off duty and enjoying a night out with friends when terrorists struck on London Bridge on June 3 2017. He spotted two police officers being attacked and in trying to stop the terrorists, Charlie was stabbed five times and rushed to King’s College Hospital in a critical condition. He then underwent an emergency three-hour operation to have his spleen removed. He ran the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon just eight months after the attack, raising money for the hospital that saved his life.
- Zamzam Farah: Ran the 400m at the 2012 London Olympics for Somalia to show her country that women could compete in sport. This was not received well in her home country and she had to flee to the UK to seek asylum. When she arrived in the UK she struggled to find somewhere to live and was helped by the Running Charity. She completed the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon to raise money for the charity.
- Stephen's Team: Ten runners representing the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust took part in the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon, 25 years to the day after Stephen was murdered in a racially motivated attack. The runners raised money for the Trust which gives young people the opportunity and support to flourish in a society that treats them with fairness and respect.
- North Kensington and Paddington Red Watch firefighters: Eighteen firefighters who were among the first to arrive on the scene of the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 ran the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon to raise money for those directly affected by the fire. Members from Red Watch at North Kensington Fire Station and Red Watch at Paddington Fire Station completed the marathon side-by-side with the Paddington crew running in full breathing apparatus.
- Paula Radcliffe: Paula created history on the streets of London in 2003 when she set a new world record of 2 hours 15 minutes and 25 seconds – a record that has remained untouchable to this day. Paula won the London Marathon on three occasions (2002, 2003, 2005) as well as the New York City Marathon four times (2004, 2007, 2008, 2009), the Chicago Marathon once (2002) and the World Championships marathon once (2005). She now commentates on the Virgin Money London Marathon for BBC Sport.