London Marathon: Last finisher backs slow runner changes

Kerrie Aldridge lying on the bed after the race Image copyright Kerrie Aldridge
Image caption Kerrie Aldridge said the changes showed every runner counted

The final runner to finish last year's London Marathon has backed changes designed to help slower runners.

Kerrie Aldridge, from Cardiff, claimed stewards "sniggered" at her as "clean-up trucks swept the road" during her nine hour run in 2019.

Organisers will now include 50 "tailwalkers" to help those at the back of the race.

"They've listened to the experiences of those at the back," said 40-year-old Ms Aldridge.

Runners who think they will take more than seven hours and 45 minutes hours to complete the London Marathon will be given the chance to start at the back of either the second or third wave of starters to give them more time to finish it.

Organisers said the tailwalkers would walk the entire route at an eight hour pace as a "mobile cheer squad for the back of the pack".

"To add to the atmosphere, there will also be a bus with a DJ playing music, which will join the route at the merge point and drive behind the tailwalkers," added a London Marathon statement.

Ms Aldridge said the changes were "amazing" after her debut marathon experience during her nine hour, 11 minute run.

"It shows we can celebrate every runner and that every runner counts," she said.

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Media captionWhat kept Kerrie Aldridge running for more than nine hours?

Ms Aldridge said stewards were dismantling the course - including taking down mile markers and barriers - as she finished the 2019 event, which attracted a record 42,549 runners.

She said she was forced to drink from half-empty, discarded bottles of water because the refuel stops were no longer staffed.

London Marathon organisers apologised to Kerrie for her 2019 experience and have now promised "drinks stations, timing mats and the event photographers will stay in place until the back of the pack has passed".

They also said the convoy of clear-up vehicles will follow the DJ bus to "ensure this convoy does not impinge upon the back of the pack".

Ms Aldridge said her 2019 marathon "changed my life" and she would run again on 26 April this year.

She raised £9,000 for a miscarriage charity last year and was thanked by organisers for working with them.

"We have worked very hard over the past months to put in place these plans that ensure that runners at the back of the pack have the best possible experience on the day," said marathon director Hugh Brasher.

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