Matthew Rees and David Wyeth announced as first two winners of new award.
The 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon will celebrate the unique spirit of the world’s greatest marathon, showcasing the extraordinary stories of its runners, champions, volunteers, supporters and spectators through the new Spirit of London campaign.
Hugh Brasher, Event Director, said: “On Race day last year, millions of people around the world were moved by the sight of Swansea Harrier Matt Rees helping David Wyeth down The Mall to the finish line. For us, that moment encapsulated the unique spirit of the London Marathon and inspired our theme for 2018.
“Running the Virgin Money London Marathon is described by so many as a life-changing experience with extraordinary camaraderie among the runners, volunteers, spectators and everyone involved in the world’s greatest marathon. Our #SpiritOfLondon campaign will unite everyone running on Sunday 22 April and the greater London Marathon family of more than one million finishers – and it also has a wider connection with the response of Londoners to troubled times.
“Sport has an extraordinary power to unify people. One of the London Marathon’s founding pillars, created by my father Chris and John Disley, is To have fun and provide some happiness and a sense of achievement in a troubled world. We have seen how the London Marathon does this every year since 1981.
“In the last 12 months London’s values have come under attack from people trying to destroy our way of life, our freedom. Never have the words of our founders rung truer. In 2018 we particularly welcome PC Charlie Guenigault, the teams of Grenfell firefighters and the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust runners who are taking part in this year’s event.
“The unity and camaraderie that running a marathon can bring was embodied by our inaugural winners Dick Beardsley and Inge Simonsen, who crossed the line hand in hand after duelling it out for 26.2 miles. Matt and David carried on that spirit and we know that on 22 April hundreds of thousands of of Londoners will be out on the streets of the capital to celebrate the Spirit of London.”
Runners in 2018 include:
Matt Rees and David Wyeth. The Spirit of London theme was inspired by the moment in the 2017 race when Matt stopped on The Mall to help David finish. The footage went viral and that moment was recognised at this week’s National Television Awards. Following his experience last year, David 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.
Sunday 22 April is the 25th anniversary of the murder of Stephen Lawrence. Stephen was a keen runner who took part in the Mini Marathon in 1988. His mother, Baroness Lawrence, is the non-running captain of a team of ten runners who will be raising funds for the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust.
Charlie Guenigault, the off-duty police officer who was seriously injured in the London Bridge terrorist attack when he went to help victims, is raising funds for Kings College Hospital Charity, the hospital that saved his life
Two teams of nine firefighters, one from Paddington and one from North Kensington fire stations, who were among the first responders to the Grenfell Tower fire, are running to raise money for Grenfell associated causes.
Brasher announced today that Wyeth and Rees are the first winners of the new Spirit of London award. Up to 26 runners each year will be presented with a special commemorative coin at an awards ceremony in May.
The coin shows Dick Beardsley and Inge Simonsen, the joint winners of the first London Marathon who crossed the finish line hand in hand. The coin is engraved with the words: To have fun and provide some happiness and a sense of achievement in a troubled world.
Brasher said: “Every year since 1981 we have marvelled at the incredible stories of our runners and the way they have triumphed over adversity, raised extraordinary sums for charity and personified what makes the London Marathon unique. Behind every runner is a story and a support network and thousands of people work so hard to deliver the event. We have volunteers who have been with us since 1981 doing everything from sorting registration packs to manning drinks stations. These people live the Spirit of London and the new award provides the opportunity to celebrate that.”