The London Marathon: The runners and their causes


Repaying charity's Caring gesture

Dietician Anneka Gershon, 25, raised a healthy £2,200 for Jewish Care in her second marathon, inspired by a family connection.

Her grandmother is a resident in the charity's Lady Sarah Cohen House in East Finchley.

"I found this marathon harder than last year," she confided. "I struggled with my training due to a knee injury.

"But I was determined not to give up due to the great stuff Jewish Care does for my nana and the Jewish community as a whole and the support I received from my family and friends."

Four-midable performance by Norwood Brothers

Four brothers from a St John's Wood family completed Sunday's race.

Joseph, 25, Samuel, 24, Harry, 20, and Jacob Green, 18, raised £12,000 between them for Norwood.

Harry, who is studying mechanical engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, was only able to fly in on Friday because of the volcanic ash scare.

"It was a night flight but I didn't sleep at all," he said.

"We liked the idea of all four of us running together and Jacob has only just turned 18 [the minimum marathon age] so it was a good opportunity.

"From the 23rd mile onwards it was pretty tough but the atmosphere was amazing, especially near the start when people were coming out of their houses with musical instruments and really cheering you on."

Jacob, a pupil at St Paul's School, also revelled in the atmosphere generated by the marathon spectators. "You'd hear people in the crowd shouting your name and encouraging you to carry on. It gives you a real lift."

Crash victim realises ambition with help from Dad

Running with three metal pins in his knee, 23-year-old management consultant Josh Ejdelbaum came home in six hours, alongside his businessman father, Henry.

The pins are a legacy of being hit by a car 10 years ago. "I was in hospital for two weeks, on crutches for six weeks and had a knee brace for a year. It wasn't looking good in terms of doing sports again.

"I've always wanted to run the marathon and training with my dad really helped me through it. I would never have been able to run the whole thing without him."

Pain aside, it had been a wonderful experience. "The crowds were fantastic and lots of friends and family came to watch. I'm not planning to do any exercise any time soon though."

Henry Ejdelbaum, 54, said the marathon "is clearly a young man's game." The St John's Wood duo raised £15,000 for MDA and Nightingale.

Inspired by son's supporters

Elstree-based Lee Tessler ran in aid of a charity which has been helping his four-year-old son Jake, who was born profoundly deaf. The 34-year-old financial trader earned over £2,200 for Auditory Verbal UK.

The charity has supported Jake, a pupil at Hertsmere Jewish Primary School, almost from birth.

"When Jake was diagnosed, the grief and despair were overwhelming," he recalled. "We didn't know if Jake would be able to hear, speak - even just simply say the word 'daddy' ever. We didn't know where to turn."

Jake had two cochlear implants at the ages of one and three, which have helped him to hear. "Jake started auditory verbal therapy when he was three months old and has been going ever since," Mr Tessler said.

"Auditory Verbal UK has taught Jake to learn through listening and given us the hope and belief that he will be able to lead a normal life like his peers."

Jake was among family members cheering him on as he recorded a time of five hours 24 minutes.

"I never thought I would do the marathon but it was the most amazing day."

Muslim joins the kisharon team

Muslim orthodontist Siamack Bagheri ran the marathon for learning difficulties charity Kisharon as "my small step for peace".

The Iranian-born 45-year-old said he had been inspired by a batmitzvah girl who was the daughter of a friend. "She said she did not want presents, but to give the money to a charity in Israel that looks after Israeli and Palestinian children of all persuasions, all with special needs. This touched my heart.

"Iran historically welcomed and encouraged its connection with the Jewish people and with all the bad news of today, it is nice to run for a Jewish charity like Kisharon, which is close to my heart."

Now based in St John's Wood, Dr Bagheri belongs to a long distance running club, through which he met Kisharon chief executive Beverley Jacobson.

As for Sunday's race, he was "fine until 19 miles, then it got very tough. I had muscle spasm in my right thigh.

"I had to stop running and walked for half-a-mile before gaining the strength to start running again. I was determined to get through the pain and to get past the finishing line in less than 4 hours 15, which I did."

Part of the £13,000-plus he raised will aid victims of an Iranian earthquake.

Ever present finisher

The 30th anniversary of the London Marathon was also a landmark for 76-year-old Jeffrey Gordon, who has run every race since its inception. He is among a group of 21, known as the Ever Presents.

A solicitor from Putney, Mr Gordon completed the race in five hours five minutes, almost three hours off his personal best of two hours 42 minutes, achieved when he was 47.

He began running over three decades ago after chasing a prisoner who attempted to escape from court. His daily routine is five miles around Wimbledon Common.

To him, marathon running is "a compulsion. I'm the oldest member of the Ever Presents and it's not getting any easier, especially when you work full-time.

"My son is trying to convince me to do another one in May and I am considering it."

Richard Desmond backing his boy at the double

Norwood's fundraising efforts were boosted by its president's son, who completed the marathon in less than five hours.

Cambridge University student Robert Desmond, 20, raised £20,000 after his father, Express owner Richard Desmond, agreed to match the amount collected in sponsorship. And Richard Desmond was among the spectators.

"I have always been into weird, extreme things and I do lots of cycling," Robert said. "I wanted to get into running and thought the marathon was a great thing to do.

"Norwood is a fantastic charity and I know that the money I have raised will do a lot of good. People responded really well to my appeal when I told them it was for Norwood. I hope running the marathon will be the start of greater involvement with the charity."

Tigerish attitude pays dividends for conservationist

Photographer Paul Goldstein was one of the slower finishers in a shade under six hours. Yet the time was commendable given that he ran the 26 miles-plus in a 15-kilo steel Bengal tiger costume, raising over £17,000 for Friends of Conservation.

Sunday's marathon was the 10th for the 47-year-old from Wimbledon and he has been training for 15-20 hours a week for almost a year.

"I have never run in anything other than the usual gear and hadn't run one for 12 years so I was a bit concerned," he said. "But the support along the way was just amazing. The screams were deafening at some points. It really kept me going and I actually quite enjoyed it."

Mr Goldstein, who also leads adventure expedition tours around the world, is spearheading the Worth More Alive campaign for the Bengal tiger.

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