UK

Thousands run in Sport Relief fundraising events

Sport Relief London Mile participants dressed as super heroes
Image caption Participants in hundreds of runs around Britain could choose between running one, three or six miles

Thousands of people across the UK have been participating in running events raising money for Sport Relief.

The funds will be spent by the Comic Relief charity in the UK and the world's poorest countries.

Celebrities joined Olympic athletes for the Sport Relief London Mile, while Prime Minister David Cameron took part in an event in Buckinghamshire.

Friday's BBC telethon, featuring sport and entertainment stars, raised more than £50m - an on the night record.

By Sunday more than £52m had been raised.

Olympian Dame Kelly Holmes counted down the start of the London Mile in The Mall and said the atmosphere was "incredible."

"When you see something like this today with Sport Relief you can just imagine the buzz that's gong to happen at the Olympic Games," she said.

Conservative MP and former Strictly Come Dancing star Ann Widdecombe started the first wave of the charity run in London, wishing those participants dressed as animals particular luck.

Runners included Spice Girl Melanie Chisholm, model Nell McAndrew, EastEnders actors Matt Lapinskas and Tony Discipline and Olympic and Paralympic medallists Allyson Felix and Chris Holmes.

Ms McAndrew crossed the finish line first, saying she was training for a marathon and had been spurred on by her "competitive streak".

"It's fantastic everyone is in fancy dress, it's such a lovely atmosphere and I think anything that gets so many people across the UK active is such a fantastic thing. They are helping to raise money at the same time, too.

"I've got to run home from here, I need to do a 24-mile run today so I've probably burnt myself out already!"

Swimmer and Paralympic gold medallist Chris Holmes ran with 200m Olympic silver medallist Allyson Felix, joking that he had tried to make her run faster.

"It's great to stand on the gold medal rostrum but what's even more important than that is giving people the chance to realise what they can achieve in sport," he said.

"If everybody looks at Olympic and Paralympic values and thinks what can I do different in my life that will be an amazing thing."

Image caption David Cameron took part in a Sport Relief Mile near Chequers

Ms Felix said it was important to make people aware of what sport could do for people's confidence.

Television presenter Nicki Chapman said she had been overtaken by an elephant and a fireman in full uniform. "It's quite humbling when you're puffing away and they're flying past you."

Participants in hundreds of runs around Britain could choose between running one, three or six miles. Spice Girl Melanie Chisholm ran three miles and said she would be feeling good "when I get my breath back".

"The Spice Girls had a long history with Comic Relief and now we have Sport Relief and they do such amazing work," she said. "To make raising money for something so awful so much fun is great."

'Week of hell'

David Cameron - with his wife Samantha and their two eldest children - took part in a Sport Relief run near the prime minister's official country residence in Buckinghamshire, Chequers.

The weekend of activities for Sport Relief follows several recent high profile charity events which pushed some TV favourites to the limit.

Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton completed a gruelling 500-mile expedition across Antarctica to reach the South Pole.

Comedian John Bishop endured a sporting "week of hell" which saw him cycle, row and run the 290 miles between Paris and London.

And last September comedian David Walliams swam 140 miles along the length of the River Thames. During Friday's live show, it was revealed that his feat had raised a total of £2,501,240 towards the Sport Relief total.

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell announced on Friday that the UK government will match £10m of public donations made to Sport Relief.

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