Crowd roars rookie runners to the finish line

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Two running rookies were inspired by the roar of the crowd as they pounded the streets during the Great Eastern Run.

Del Singh and Abigail Luker were just two of thousands of people taking part in the half marathon through Peterborough streets.

Del Singh after completing the run

Del Singh after completing the run

They were both running in memory of loved ones - and were cheered by scores of residents who lined the streets to give them support.

Abigail (45), from Stilton, was raising money for the British Heart Foundation in memory of her ex-husband Ben Devonshire and his brother Francis. The pair died from a genetic heart condition within a few months of each other this year.

Abigail said taking part in the run was something she would always remember. She said: “It was an amazing experience. The support and encouragement all the way round was brilliant from both spectators who cheered and had music playing and those taking part. It really spurred you on.”

Speaking on Monday, she said she was still ‘a bit achy’ from the experience - but said she was proud of raising money for the charity.

Lily - Ben and Abigail’s daughter - had set up an online fundraising page, and Abigail ran with friend Sammy Darling to raise money.

Abigail said: “I’m feeling very proud of my achievement and the last total on Lily’s just giving page was £988.

“We ran it in 2 hrs 38 minutes 43 seconds which we were very pleased with. We managed the whole run without stopping or walking. It was nice having Sammy by my side though, knowing we had trained together and achieved the end result together too.

“As for any further runs, I’m always up for a challenge and would like to continue fundraising for The British Heart Foundation.”

Del was raising money for Cancer Research UK. He chose the charity after his dad died from cancer, and a close friend was diagnosed.

He was also full of praise for the crowds.

Del, of Eastfield Road, said: “As a novice runner this was the farthest I have ever run in my life and I am pleased to say I came through injury free and that I am up and about today so recovery is good too.

“The experience itself was pretty awesome not least because I was sharing it with thousands of people of all ages, fitness levels and abilities. Many were running for charities and causes just as I was, but also to prove to themselves they could simply undertake and complete such a Herculean task.

“The crowds were amazing and I have to thank the hundreds who lined the streets and also those who sat outside their houses applauding and cheering us on.

“I didn’t realise just how much of a difference it makes and how your spirits are raised by people telling you how great you are and what an amazing job you’re doing.

“For me personally at around 10 miles when I was getting some ankle and hip pain and started slowing down a mother and her daughters standing at the side of the road shouted, “Go on Del, we love you!”. I had no idea who they were or how they knew my name, maybe they’d seen the piece in the newspaper, but their personalised message of support lifted me and I forgot the pain and kicked on - so thank you ladies, love you back.

“As runners we spurred each other on with words of encouragement and that too was priceless, especially for us first timers who were entering uncharted territories as we racked up the miles. Some of the runners dressed in quite elaborate and heavy costumes have my ultimate respect as running 13 miles is no mean feat but in fancy dress is a bit nuts but totally heroic.

“I drew great support and inspiration from so many people including my friend Darren who is battling cancer and came out to see me run and from my family who met me at the finish line.

“But special support and inspiration came from Fauja Singh who at 100 years old ran and completed the Toronto Marathon in 2011, making him the oldest marathon runner ever. I met him a couple of days earlier and just being in the presence of this man and his messages spurred me on. I am going to rest now and take stock and who knows maybe look at a full marathon in a year or so’s time.”

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