A couple of recent BBC News articles caught my eye this week. First up is a report on the rise of the “adult playground” that introduced me to the term “nudge theory”, although I am not quite so sure that exercise equipment mimicking those traditionally found in a gym is really a playground. I am all for these types of installations though and via my runs in the Ealing area I often see people using the similar equipment at North Action Playing Fields and Pitshanger Park so anything positive that helps tackle the obesity levels in this country gets my thumbs up.

The second article, which was published today, provides an update on Claire Lomas, from Eye Kettleby near Melton Mowbray, who completed the 2012 Virgin London Marathon in a “bionic” suit. Mrs Lomas was paralysed from the chest down following a horse riding accident and undertook the remarkable challenge to raise money for Spinal Research. Kudos to Mrs Lomas for her achievement and raising awareness & funds for a worthwhile cause.

The part that catches my eye is that she has fallen foul of the recent rule change that states that people completing the marathon would only be officially recognised as a finisher, including official time and medal, if they completed the 26.2 miles within 24 hours. The rule was introduced following the various fund-raising “runs” completed by Lloyd Scott who famously completed the London Marathon dressed in various costumes:

  • 2002 in a deep-sea diving suit
  • 2006 wearing suit of armour, dragging 140kg dragon
  • 2007 dressed as Indiana Jones dragging a boulder
  • 2008 dressed as the title character from the film The Iron Giant
  • 2011 dressed as Brian the snail from The Magic Roundabout

In 2002, Mr Scott took five days, eight hours, 29 minutes and 46 seconds to reach the finish line dressed in the diving suit and in 2011 it took 26 days to crawl around the route in the snail outfit. He was denied the opportunity to reprise his deep-sea diving suit “run” in 2012 as the race organisers changed the rules to specify completion within a day.

In principle I wholeheartedly agree with recent rule change since I believe that the London Marathon is a race and as such competitors should treat the marathon with the respect it deserves and complete the race to the best of their abilities. However, I could only side with the London Marathon if they themselves treated it as a race and were not so fixated on reveling in being the worlds largest annual fund-raising event and assigning so many spots as charity bond places, with the ballot places seemingly decreasing each and every year.

 So good on Claire Lomas and her achievement in completing the London Marathon and a big thumbs down to the London Marathon team for denying her an official finish and medal. On the positive side Sir Richard Branson stepped in to say he would reward her achievement once she had finished.