Spirit of London
The 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon celebrates 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 last year, 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 and inspired our theme for 2018.
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 Tyrell: 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.