By TAMARA PREEN
James Cracknell praised the London Marathon for giving every participant equal opportunity to take place in the historic race.
The two-time Olympic gold medal winning rower is a long-term marathon enthusiast, having taken part in marathons since 2006.
Most recently, Cracknell took part in the London Marathon this October, which marked the race’s return to the sporting calendar after the 2020 marathon took place remotely.
The London Marathon was this year’s recipient of the SJA Sport for Social Change Award at the Sports Journalists’ Association British Sports Awards, in record of the over £1 billion the event has raised for charities since it was first held in 1981.
Cracknell said: “There are very few events where you can race on the same course as the best in the world.
“But every runner has a goal, whether it’s for charity, just to finish, or to run to a time.”
Cracknell completed this year’s marathon in 2 hours, 55 minutes and 39 seconds, having gained his personal best time, 2 hours, 43 minutes and 12 seconds, in his seventh marathon outing, in 2017.
“To be honest, it wasn’t that I thought I’d be really good at marathon running. But after my last Olympics, it was a way of staying in shape,” Cracknell added.
“It’s an amazing day – the best thing in so many ways. You have people raising money for charity, you have people coming out to support, not just for their friends or partners or family, but they stay and clap for everyone else.
“That makes the day really special.”
The Sport for Social Change Award is first up after lunch and @LondonMarathon Group are the winners with director Alan Pascoe accepting the award on behalf of event director Hugh Brasher 🏃♀️🏃♂️ #SJA2021 pic.twitter.com/ouunmF6nlP
— Sports Journalists (@SportSJA) December 2, 2021
This year, 36,000 runners took part in the marathon in London, with a further 23,000 running in the virtual marathon, a remote run that was set up last year to ensure that runners all over the country could take part.
The marathon was moved from April 2021, to October, to ensure the greatest number of participants present, a delay that was taken up with aplomb.
Alan Pascoe, director of London Marathon Events, accepted the award at Thursday’s ceremony, and spoke of the impact the return of the London Marathon had on the public psyche.
He said: “The London Marathon this year signals to the whole country that we’re back to a degree of normality.”