Sunday's (24 April) Virgin Money London Marathon will see the millionth finisher complete the esteemed race. All sorts of people run it every year. Six of this year's entrants explain why.

The Defending Champ

Why I Run London ()

Tigist Tufa (PB 2:21:52) was the unexpected winner of last year’s London Marathon, winning a slow(ish) race in 2:23:22.

“I was very surprised for my victory last year,” she told the press on Thursday, adding that she is “very happy and thankful” to be running in the British capital for the second time.

Since wining in London in 2015, Tufa finished sixth at the world champs and third in New York, the city where she has spent time living and training. But ahead of her title defense she’s been hitting the miles back in east Africa.

“I had a lot of races in 2015 but after New York I took a break,” she said. “I want to win in London again. I did a lot to prepare myself. For this race my preparation was all in Ethiopia.”

Tufa hasn't spoken with anyone from her federation about representing her country at the Olympics, but hopes that London might give her a chance. “If I run well here I hope I will be selected,” she said.

The Fan

Why I Run London ()

“I’ve followed athletics for years and travelled the world. I just love it. But I am more of a marathon watcher than a runner,” says George Davidson, who has spent the last nine months preparing himself for his first 26-miler. He’s noticed an improvement in his weight and health, but that’s not the reason he is running.

“Thirteen years ago I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and I had my thyroids removed,” Geroge tells us. “Also, my nephew, Henry [pictured], is coming to the end of three years of treatment for leukemia. He, his mum and dad, they’re always in and out of Great Ormond Street Hospital and it’s awful.

“They’re getting to the end of three years of their own massive, massive marathon in May, so the timing of this is really appropriate. I am running on behalf of my childhood athletics hero, Team Coe. It collects money for Cancer Research UK, and also the charity is raising money to build the Francis Crick Institute, a world-class facility for so-called ‘incurable’ diseases in Central London.

“And on top of that, I’m doing it for myself. My nickname at my old company was Big G – nobody in my new company calls me Big G, I’ve lost nearly two stone.”

This way to help George with his fundraising efforts

The Spaceman

Why I Run London ()

Regardless of how fast Major Tim Peake runs, we know for sure that his performance will be out of this world. He’ll be running on a treadmill aboard the International Space Station, his progress tracked by the Run Social mobile app.

To make sure he won't float away, Peake has to strap into a bungee harness system that he describes feels “like running with a clumsy rucksack on”. Still, he's aimaing to complete the course in a time of less than four hours (on his one previous effort he finished in 3:18:50).

He's running to raise awareness of most things: physics, nutrition, space, fitness, bungee harnesses. Joking aside, his support team will be running the marathon dressed in space suits back on Earth. In December he said: “I am running in space to raise awareness of The Prince’s Trust, which has a team running on the ground – Team Astronaut – while I’m running on the ISS.”

Read more about this little slice of intergalactic history here

The Actress

Why I Run London ()

Actress Natalie Dormer is known for her roles in money-spinning movie franchise The Hunger Games and hit television drama Game of Thrones. She’s also making a reputation for herself as a marathoner.

In an interview with the Guardian in February, the school girl cross country runner said she has always been a “longer-distance runner, not track”. On Sunday she will run the London Marathon for the second time. She last ran it in 2014, clocking 3:50:57.

She told Kate Carter, running blog editor at the Graun, that she enjoys the quietness of running. “I like that I’m not verbalising,” she said, “not talking, just going into my inner self.”

Dormer added that representing a charity – in her case ChildLine – “stops you being egocentric”. She explained: “That’s what I love about the London Marathon; everyone is running for a cause, or in eulogy to a person. And that uplifting power and positivity, it shows you the positive side of human nature.”

The Veteran

“I’m a lucky lady,” says 88-year-old Bedford Harrier Iva Barr. This year’s oldest marathon entrant has been running 26-milers since the 1980s. “It’s like being at the centre of a big street party,” she says.

A few hiccups in her training plan haven’t dampened the octogenarian’s spirits. “Training has not been so good this year,” she says. “I had a fall and hurt my shoulder and then got that injured shoulder bumped again by someone when I was on a run. But one way or another I will get round again!”

Iva is running to raise money for disabled children’s charity Whizz-Kidz. “There are always so many people wishing me well on the road-side and I always make a point of stopping to talk to the children from the Whizz-Kidz charity who are usually watching at mile 22. I love running for them.”


Why I Run London ()

“Some people think because athletes are professionals they have to produce PBs and records every time they compete,” writes our very own Michelle Sammet. “How often have you read the words 'athlete X finished a disappointing ninth'?

“Looking around the media tribunes of athletics meets, half of the journalists (me included) never made it as athletes and turned to reporting (much easier), but criticise underperforming athletes, often forgetting the hard work these people put into fulfilling their ambitions.

“I am running the marathon as a reminder to myself, never to be too quick to label an athlete’s performance as anything other than incredible. Trying to fit long runs around work, travelling to meets, adjusting to different time zones and food, has been one of the toughest things I’ve ever done – and I didn’t have a bunch of journalists telling me and the rest of the world I was slacking.”