RUNNERS from across the Vale and the Cotswolds joined thousands of fund-raisers from all over the country in the London Marathon at the weekend.

First-time marathon runner Rachael Barker, aged 25, of Hampton, who was crowned Miss Birmingham last year, completed the event in four hours 52 minutes with her best friend Henrietta Cook, 25.

The pair were raising money for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Charity in Birmingham.

Miss Cook, also of Hampton, said: "We did fantastic and had a wonderful day, the crowds were just awesome and everyone was so supportive.

"We would like to thank everyone who has donated already to our cause."

Stone mason Warren Mantle, of Bibsworth Avenue, Broadway, completed his second London marathon in three hours, four minutes and 42 seconds.

The 41-year-old, who is raising money for St John Ambulance, said: "The first 20 miles of the race went very well but the pain in my legs in the last few miles did get quite bad but the noise from the crowds just pushes you on.

"This is physically the hardest thing I have ever done."

Clare Bayley, 41, of Winchcombe, completed it in four hours and 53 minutes and has raised nearly £1,000 for Evesham-based Action on pre-eclampsia.

The mother-of-three said: "It was brilliant, an amazing experience. I hadn't done it before it was quite emotional."

Moreton fitness instructor Tracey Walton battled through knee pain and completed the event within her target, in five hours and 36 minutes.

Miss Walton, who has raised more than £2,100 for Action on pre-eclampsia, said: "It was very good, a very unique experience and very well organised. It was just great to be part of the whole event, I feel very lucky to be able to do it."

Veteran marathon runner Steve Edwards, from Moreton, ran his 19th London Marathon in three hours and nine minutes for Kate's Home Nursing, bringing his total to 631.

"I've never known the crowds as busy," he said. "The weather was brilliant. It was absolutely heaving. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was pleased with my time."

Friends Shelley Morgan and Chrissy Barnes decided to take on the challenge after Mrs Morgan's place last year fell through.

Both mums, from Elmley Castle, ran in support of Cancer Research UK and smashed their fundraising target reaching an impressive £10,500.

They completed the race, which they were running in memory of Mrs Morgan's father, police officer Eric Summerton, in just under 5 hours.

Mrs Barnes said: "It was brilliant, a fantastic experience. We stuck together through the whole race. We saw our supporters four times but there wasn't a mile people weren't shouting your name."

Fundraiser Sue Cosnett from Pershore also ran the race in around 5 hours.

She said the heat on the day meant she had to take it steady.

"I was running in memory of my uncle Gerald Cosnett," said Miss Cosnett. "It went really well. I have raised about £500 for the British Heart Foundation."

First time runner Jenna Hayton, a Pershore beautician, finished in 4 hours and 34 minutes and raised £436 for the Midlands Air Ambulance.

She said: "It was really good. The atmosphere was brilliant."

Sophie Thorner, Beaver Scout Leader of 7TH Pershore The Avonvales Scout Group, formed part of a team of leaders from across the UK to complete the London Marathon.

She finished the race in five hours 35 minutes and raised £2,000 for scouting.

“The whole atmosphere of London makes me think that I could quite happily do it again,” she said. “The Beaver Group I am with got really behind it and they are going to be ecstatic when I return with the medal that they can try on so that they can really feel part of it.

"It’s also very rewarding to know that my efforts will help more young people get out and have fun adventures with Scouting.”

Ten Evesham Vale Running Club members completed the race on Sunday.

They ran a varied amount of times: Dave Mitchel 3 hours and 2 minutes, Phil Parsons 3 hours and 7 minutes, Ned Lammas, 3 hours and 9 minutes, Sheila Barbour was 3 hours and 13 minutes, Robert Duncan took 3 hours and 37 minutes, Bob Pope 3 hours and 53 minutes, Mathew Manners 4 hours and 15 minutes, Per Rhodes 4hours and 31 minutes, Kate Jarvis took 5 hours and 15 minutes and Paula Smith finished in 5hours and 36 minutes.