Here are Bedford’s 2024 London Marathon runners

Image: TCS London Marathon/Facebook
Image: TCS London Marathon/Facebook

This weekend, while many of us will be enjoying a (hopefully) relaxing spring Sunday (21 April) morning, several Bedfordians will be heading into London for this year’s TCS London marathon.

The 26.2-mile course around our country’s capital attracts runners of all abilities from across the world each year, with 2024 already breaking records after 578,374 people entered the ballot, the first time over half a million people have entered.

There will also be a record-breaking 50,000 runners taking part this weekend too. Joining them are these local legends who have told us all about why they’re taking part and who for.

Cath and Ali McDougall – running for Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice

Cath and Ali McDougall London Marathon 2024
Image: Cath and Ali McDougall

“My mum was at Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice in Moggerhanger in 2010 from the start of March to the end of April. It was in the final week of her life; I was sitting in her room, and I was watching the London Marathon on TV.

“I said to her, ‘I promise you one year I will run the marathon and I will raise money for the hospice who cared for you so well’,” shared Cath.

“I was offered a place that year, but emotionally and physically I just wasn’t ready. I kept on getting injured and in the end, I had to give my place up. Then last year, Ali and I spoke about it again. I felt fit enough and strong enough to take on the challenge.”

Running together has certainly helped give them both encouragement, but Ali says that’s also brought challenges.

“I think we both underestimated how much time training for a marathon absorbs – especially when two people in one household are trying to run three or four times a week,” he adds.

“We take it in turns, one of us runs while the other does the weekly shop, or the other runs while we get things done around the house.

“No one tells you about running in the winter and in all sorts of weather when you sign up to a marathon too -I think they say winter miles, summer smiles.”

You can donate to Cath and Ali’s fundraiser here.

Olly Pritchett – running for Teenage Cancer Trust

Olly Pritchett London Marathon 2024. Image: Bedford School
Image: Bedford School

Upper Sixth Former Olly Pritchett is taking part in the London Marathon this weekend as his way of saying “thank you” to the Teenage Cancer Trust for “being so good” with his older brother after he was diagnosed with stage 4 Burkitt’s Lymphoma Cancer.

Olly, who only turned 18 in February, will be one of the youngest runners taking part. His brother, Lewis, was 21 at the time he was diagnosed and started an intensive chemotherapy regime in January 2023.

Remarkably, after a very intensive treatment program Lewis was classed as in remission a few months later.

“The support we as a family received from Teenage Cancer Trust really made an impact on how we coped with the situation,” said Olly.

“The help and support they offered was absolutely incredible and made our journey through it as easy as possible. As a way of giving back, I have pledged to raise money for the charity by running my first ever marathon a matter of weeks after my 18th birthday.”

You can donate to Olly’s fundraiser here.

Anthony Reynolds – running for the MS Society

Anthony Reynolds London Marathon 2024
Image: Anthony Reynolds

Anthony Reynolds is running the London Marathon for the MS Society after his partner, Jenni, was diagnosed with Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis last year.

“I’d never even run a half-marathon before starting my training plan, never mind the full distance, but the MS Society has been a fantastic source of information, comfort, and support to us so it’s great to be able to run the marathon for them and give something back,” Anthony told the Bedford Independent.

He’s managed to raise over £2,500 so far and tracked all of his journeys through training on his JustGiving page, even as far as doing a 25k run in Iceland while he was meant to be on holiday.

Most recently he ran the ATW Bedford Half-Marathon on 1 April as “a bit of a pre-marathon test” as he’d never raced in a distance event before. If that wasn’t enough, he then carried on for another 10k to complete his last very long run in the training plan.

You can donate to Anthony’s fundraiser here.

Emma Smart – running for Plan International UK

Emma Smart London Marathon 2024
Image: Emma Smart

It will be Emma’s first-ever marathon this weekend and she’s running for Plan International UK, a charity that supports education for all and equality for girls across the world.

“I am running for this charity because I believe in their values and mission to provide free, inclusive, quality education in over 80 countries across the world, particularly for girls,” said Emma.

“The charity also works to reduce violence, encourage youth empowerment and increase access to quality sexual health and rights services, enabling societies to become more inclusive and equal.”

You can donate to Emma’s fundraiser here.

Those running for Bedford Hospital Charity and Friends

There will be 19 runners pounding the streets of London on Sunday for Bedford Hospital Charity and Friends.

Keira Louis Walsh, Sam Hamer, Lewis English, Hannah Drewery, Jordan Green, Becky Cottam, Erin Smith, Emma Rands, Grant Rands, Alex Goulding, Charlie Cordell, Jack Swain, Ryan Matthews, Matt Parker, Mike Thompson, Sue Stone, Louis Green, Joshua Griggs and Scott Hands

There were originally going to be 21 running for the local charity, but sadly Danielle Dewe and Lisa Dudoic picked up injuries during training and so will run in 2025.

Bedford Hospital Charity & Friends was founded over 30 years ago in 1988 by a group of local people, initially to raise money to refurbish the dilapidated and antiquated Student Nurse Home at Bedford Hospital South Wing.

Since then it has raised millions of pounds for a number of projects, including the Primrose Appeal to build a new Oncology Unit, funding for upgrades to the A&E department and a new paediatric A&E department, and robot-assisted surgery equipment.

They also support staff and patient events to not only say “thank you” to those who work for the NHS but also help those they care for have a more comfortable stay while in hospital.

Bedford Hospital Charity and Friends runners hope to raise between £20,000 and £30,000 for the Hospital, with each runner aiming to raise at least £1,500.

You can find each runner’s donation page here.

Watch it live

All the action will be live on BBC One to begin with from 8:30am until 2pm. The elite wheelchair race begins at 8:50am, followed by the elite women at 9:00am and the elite men and mass event at 9:40am.

After 2pm, the coverage will move to BBC Two until 3pm. A highlight show will also be aired on BBC Two at 6pm.

BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport app will also provide options with two dedicated live streams. From 11:30am until 2:30pm, you can view the Tower Bridge camera, and from 1pm to 6pm, the finish line camera will be live to capture those emotional last steps.

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