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Personal stories that will spur on Bromley's London Marathon runners

PUBLISHED: 10:08 18 April 2013 | UPDATED: 12:15 18 April 2013

Stephen (right) will run the marathon in memory of best-friend Alan (left), who died last year.

Stephen (right) will run the marathon in memory of best-friend Alan (left), who died last year.

Archant

Sunday's London Marathon will be the culmination of months of preparation for tens of thousands for runners. We talked to three people from Bromley completing the gruelling 26.2 mile course to find out how they are feeling as the big day looms on the horizon.

Stephen Smith, 30, of Orpington, is running the marathon in memory of his best friend Alan Lodge.

“I’m running four marathons in four weeks throughout April to raise over £5,000 for the National Brain Appeal. I am doing it in memory of my friend Alan Lodge who died suddenly last year.

“I’ve already run the Paris and Brighton ones so there’s just London and Manchester to go – a total of 104.9 miles over four consecutive weekends.

“I am not an athlete or particularly good runner, it was just a momentary lapse of sanity.

“Alan died suddenly and unexpectedly in February last year of a cerebral haemorrhage, it was only six weeks before his 30th birthday. He had been my best friend since childhood and was the best man at my wedding in 2007.

“We are both Bromley lads and went to Langley Park Boys’ School. He was just there one day and gone the next.

“I was fortunate to have never experienced a close death before, so it was a massive shock to the system and I’ve had to go to counselling.

“Sometimes running down a dark road with not much going on I think of Alan and can’t stop myself crying.

“I did the Brighton Marathon last year and London in 2007 as well as 2009. The feeling is indescribable.

“We recently held a ball attended by 250 guests in Alan’s honour, which raised more than £9,000. I’m utterly blown away as our original target was only £5,000. We’re so close to breaking £10,000 which is just amazing.”

To donate to Stephen’s marathon fund, visit justgiving.com/fourmarathonsinfourweeks.

Anthony Skelly, 29, of Stembridge Road, Anerley, is running the marathon for Bromley-based charity Magpie Dance.

“I decided to run last year when my mum told me that Magpie had been given a slot for a marathon runner. I wrote a letter and said why I wanted to do it, luckily they picked me.

“My younger brother Christopher is a member and was one of the first to start dancing with Magpie. He’s 26 now and has neurodevelopmental disorder microcephaly but above all else he goes there because they bring everyone out of their shells.

“The work they have done with Christopher in helping him express himself is amazing. The marathon is a chance for me to say thank you.

“Training has been tough because I’m running in full service kit. I’m a hold troop for the Royal Marines Reserves in London so I’ll be carry webbing and 30lbs of weight on the day.

“I’m looking to beat five hours and I’m in the gym six days a week to keep up my fitness. My feet are in tatters but it’s not so bad. I’ve got to get my head down and get on with it.

“Christopher is quite interested in it all and he seems pretty excited the closer we get to the day. All my family are coming to watch and my girlfriend as well as the Magpie staff will be there. I’ve raised £1,000 so far but I’m aiming for £2,000.”

To donate to Anthony’s marathon total, visit justgiving.com/anthony-skelly1.

Nurse Tracy Clarke, 40, lives in Orpington and is running her first marathon for SEEDS4Tanzania which helps people in Africa.

“I had the big 40 this year and needed to get fit. In December I heard that SEEDS4Tanzania needed someone to run the marathon and they kindly asked me to be that person.

“I have run previously but that was about five years ago and it was only 10k. Since then I’ve been trying to get back into it so this was a great excuse.

“Probably around the 18- mile mark is where I’ll start to feel really tired and I’m hoping the atmosphere of the crowd will keep me going from there.

“I work at Orpington Hospital and everyone there has been really supportive as well as my family.

“My kids in particular have been great because I keep disappearing for hours here and there doing my training.

“Time isn’t a massive issue for me and I’m doing my best to keep it out of my mind. As long as I cross that finish line I will be happy.

“The only target I do have is to raise £1,000 for the charity, and I think we’re at about £700 so far, so it’s looking good.”

To find out how you can sponsor Tracy, visit seeds4tanzania.blogspot.co.uk.

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