COMET country was well represented in the Virgin London Marathon yesterday (Sunday). Some of the runners spoke to the Comet about their experiences, which included PBs, personal triumphs and even a marriage proposal.

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ONE runner celebrated crossing the London Marathon finish line on Sunday by proposing to his girlfriend.

Sean Penny, 25, from Arlesey, proposed to his girlfriend Gemma Austin, 25, after running the 26.2-mile course in 5:10, raising more than £3,000 for Make-a-Wish Foundation UK.

The proposal came after Jay Norton, star of BBC1 show The Voice, serenaded Gemma with one of his own songs, Forever.

• For more on Sean’s story and a video of the proposal, click on the link in the top right-hand corner.

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TWO siblings crossed the finish line together in their first marathon.

Chris Hone, from Hitchin, and Liz Newland, from Henlow, completed the course in 4:01:48.

Their efforts have raised £3,000 for the Hertfordshire Community Foundation.

“It went well and we had been training together every Saturday morning,” said Chris.

“The first half of the race went really well and to plan but as the legs got tired, running through the crowds of runners was hard work.

“The atmosphere was amazing and something we will never forget. We were very pleased and proud to cross the line together in a good time in front of so many friends and family.”

Liz, who teaches at Princess Helena College in Preston, added: “I am so proud of myself and my brother. It is a day I will never forget, a truly wonderful experience.”

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A ROYAL marine musician completed the marathon in memory of his brother-in-law and former colleague.

Band Colour Sergeant Mark Phillips, from Hitchin, completed the course in a time of 4:30:13. His efforts have raised more than £1,600 for St Luke’s Hospice in Plymouth, where brother-in-law Andy Thomson was cared forx before dying from skin cancer in 2008.

Mark said: “I took slightly longer than I expected and my feet are a bit of a mess. I knew eight or nine miles out that I was running a bit behind.

“However it was a brilliant experience and I’d recommend that everyone should have a go at the marathon at least once in their lifetime. The atmosphere as you run along is amazing, with shouts of encouragement coming from the spectators.

“It’s great also to have raised over £1600 for St Luke’s Hospice in Plymouth.”

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A NURSE has raised almost £3,000 for The East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust’s Secondary Breast Cancer Group after completing the London Marathon in 4:38.

Jayne Dingemans, a Macmillan breast oncology clinical nurse specialist at Lister Hospital in Stevenage, completed the race despite having a groin injury and battling to overcome the flu.

“I was determined not to be defeated,” she said. “At mile 18 my leg went. It was hard work. If it wasn’t for the crowds I wouldn’t have gotten round.”

The Secondary Breast Cancer Group is a support group for Trust patients with secondary breast cancer - a disease which can be treated but not cured.

The group is self-funded and meets monthly at the Ramada Cromwell on Stevenage High Street.

If you would like more information about the group, call Jayne on 01438 284877.

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RUNNER Karen Lucas completed the London Marathon in 5:28, raising more than £2,600 for the Cardiomyopathy Association.

Karen’s friend, Emma Hutt, lost her partner Adam Drury to cardiomyopathy - an inherited heart muscle disease - in 1994. He was 26.

Karen, of Meppershall High Street, said: “It was tough, but I managed to keep going all the way. The atmosphere was fantastic. Seeing people cheering me at the Cardiomyopathy Association cheering stations and having people call out my name really gave me a lift.

“As well as the achievement of getting round, I’m so pleased I have raised money to help families with cardiomyopathy.”

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A POLICE officer who spent her 40th birthday running the London Marathon has so far raised more than £1,000 for a childhood cancer charity.

Larya Barton, a police officer from Stevenage, raised the money for CHILDREN with CANCER UK after her great-nephew, Lucas, was born with neuroblastoma.

He spent the first six weeks of his life in neonatal intensive care. He survived.

Larya completed the marathon in 5:07 and said: “It was absolutely amazing. It’s the best experience I have ever had.

“We have the best marathon in the world. There’s nothing like it.”

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A MAN slashed nearly 40 minutes off his marathon PB, while raising money for a good cause.

Philip Goose, 22, from Hitchin, has raised just over £1,600 for Anthony Nolan. He chose the charity, after his mother donated bone marrow to a stranger in 1991.

Philip, who is a North Herts Road Runner, completed the race in 3:15:08.

He said: “The London Marathon has been a big part of my life over the past year. I’ve known I had the place since just after the 2011 event, and I’ve been preparing and thinking about it ever since.

“The excitement of race day was brilliant, with more and more people gathering as I travelled closer to the start. By then the crowds were bigger than anything I’d seen.”

Philip said that, initially, he was disappointed with his time, but added: “At the time of applying I thought 3:30 was optimistic, so my improvement over the year to this point has been above what I had hoped for. I’m also happy that I was disappointed, it shows I still have the drive to go on and get a sub three hour marathon.

“The post-race reception with Anthony Nolan was brilliant, and I got to meet up with my family again there. My mum has a strong connection to the charity, so it was fantastic to meet up with her and get a photo of her and me holding my medal.”

Philip is still collecting sponsorship - you can sponsor by visiting www.justgiving.com/goosevlm

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A QUAKER who suffers from a heart condition crossed the line in a time of 5:12.

Marc Hewitson, who attends Letchworth Quaker Meeting House, ran the distance for Quaker Homeless Action, despite having open surgery in 2008 to replace a valve in his heart.

The 47-year-old said: “I was trying to keep the time under five hours but I’m just happy to be running and happy to be alive.”

To make a donation visit www.everyclick.com/qhalm

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A HEADTEACHER was back at work on Monday morning but not without aches and pains.

John Cattermole, from Wilbury Junior School in Letchworth GC, crossed the line in 5:00 for Shelter.

He said: “It is one of those things I’ve always wanted to do. It is absolutely exhausting but the support along all of the route was amazing. One pupil asked ‘did you win’ so I said ‘yes, here’s my gold medal!’”

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THIRTY-EIGHT members of a Stevenage running club completed the London Marathon on Sunday, including two men who finished in under three hours and two women who finished in under 3:30.

Fairlands Valley Spartan Grant Ramsay came in the top one per cent of runners, finishing 314th overall with a time of 2:43:57.

Simon Jackson came 687th, finishing in 2:53:38.

Kerry James came in at 3:28:32 and Sam Pretty finished in 3:28:38.

Sixteen Spartans were running their first marathon and eight others ran personal bests.

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THREE members of Stevenage and North Herts Athletics Club completed the course.

Coaches Caroline and Paul Keeble finished in 4:18 and 4:49 respectively, while Lee Grint crossed the line in 5:35.

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