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The Expo Is Open: "Get Here Early," Says London's Lord Mayor
Lord Mayor of London Nick Anstee opened the Virgin London Marathon Expo at
11am this morning with a message to the thousands of runners who will head
to the Excel Centre over the next four days to pick up their numbers for
Sunday's race: "Get here early to avoid the weekend rush."
"As every year, the sooner people do come down here the easier it will be
for them," said Anstee. "A lot of people come down to London late on Friday
and Saturday so anyone living in the south east should come on Wednesday
and Thursday if they can. They will be helping themselves as well as
helping the process here.
"There seem to be seismic shifts going on everywhere," he added as
thousands poured into the Expo. "But whatever is happening elsewhere the
seismic shifts towards running are always evident here. It's tremendous to
see the enthusiasm - maybe they've already got the message: get here
Anstee, who cut the Virgin London Marathon ribbon with GMTV presenter Jenni
Falconer, also picked up his own number and Ipico Sport Timing Tag for
Sunday's race. A London Marathon board director, Anstee will be running his
16th London Marathon this year raising money for Pitch Perfect and the Lord
"I consider it a great privilege to be here to open the Virgin London
Marathon Expo," he said. "I have been here 15 times before as a normal
punter so it's a real honour to be here this year as a marathon director,
as a runner and as the Lord Mayor to open this great event.
"For runners this is the beginning of all the excitement that leads to
Sunday's race. It's only when you get your running bag and number that you
get the real buzz and the nerves start to kick in."
Anstee will have another great privilege on Sunday when he sets off from
the start line surrounded by a team of pilots from the Red Arrows who will
jog the first few miles in formation around him.
"I had the great fortune of flying with the Red Arrows last year and had to
find a way of repaying the complement," he explained. "It's great that
they've been able to take the opportunity to join me on the start line."
Anstee, who has a personal best of 3 hours 45 minutes, is hoping to reach
the finish line in around four hours this year. "It is one of the most
wonderful experiences to set off as a runner and have all those people
cheering you on even if they don't know you," he said. "I've often said if
you could bottle the enthusiasm that Londoners show on that day, and carry
it forward for every other day in the year, London would be an even happier
place than it already is."
Talking of nerves, Falconer admitted she was already feeling apprehensive
about the race. The TV presenter is running her second London Marathon for
the 2010 official charity CLIC Sargent and Virgin Unite and targeting an
impressive 3 hours 30 finish.
"It was so exciting to be asked to open the Expo because I've been living
and breathing the marathon since the start of the year," said Falconer.
"Last year I did it for the first time and got round in 3:53, but I've
really got into it this year.
"The last couple of weeks I have been getting really nervous and started
wondering whether I'm prepared enough. Lots of people have offered to give
me money or double their money if I get round in 3:30, so the pressure's
"I've done the training and I was confident, but now I'm scared. I know
CLIC Sargent and Virgin Unite want to raise £1.5 million so I'm going to do
everything in my power to get round in that time."
Among the first ‘punters' through the doors, along with the thousands who
had queued patiently outside, were two sporting internationals - the former
track star Ewan Thomas and former Welsh international footballer Gary
Speed, who is running for the first time, also admitted to pre-race nerves.
"Recently I've been more apprehensive than excited. But now I'm here I'm
looking forward to it. There's a real camaraderie and excitement here so I
am starting to feel the buzz.
"I haven't done enough training but hopefully I can get round OK," added
Speed, who is raising money for the Bobby Robson Foundation, the charity
set up by his former manager at Newcastle United. "I was aiming to do 3:30
but I had a little injury so now anything under four hours I will be