Keep on running

25 April, 2010 at 08:30 (GMT+01:00)

By Pat W

Hello, Pat here from If you follow my blog, tweets or my comments here at Sidepodcast, you'll know I am interested in all manner of different forms of motorsport in addition to Formula 1. Not all of it matches up to F1's standards, yet much of it is still enjoyable and I'm convinced fans of one form of racing will like some other forms of racing.

My blog's full name says I watch too much racing, and that's not limited to races with cars. What you may not know is that I casually follow races outside of motorsport, not to the same degree and I don't really mention it or blog about it. I suspect the same is true of many fans of motor racing, I know a lot of petrolheads like to follow the Tour de France for example, and the other week we live commented the University Boat Race. We all seem to like watching different sorts of competition. Another race I like to watch is the London Marathon - and this year there is an added interest for the motorsport fan, there are racing drivers taking part.

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Credit: Jamie McPhilimey/onEdition

The 2010 Virgin London Marathon takes place on Sunday from 9am. I'm not here to provide a live thread for the race, although it could serve as that if the interest is there. What I'd like to talk about is the entry of 14 members of the British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC), in support of the children's cancer charity CLIC Sargent.

Their aim is to reach £50,000 in donations - more on that a little later, first let's see who's taking part. They aren't F1 drivers, most are from sportscars/GTs but that doesn't matter, I think it is fantastic to see motorsport doing something like this to raise money for charity.

The Runners

According to the BRDC announcement the following drivers are taking part, I've added a note for each in case you want to follow them for the rest of the year:

Oliver GavinCorvette Racing for Le Mans & ALMS, drove F1 Safety Car in 1990s
Andy PriaulxBMW Team RBM in WTCC where he's multiple champion, also doing Le Mans
Marino FranchittiPatron Highcroft Racing at Le Mans and occa sional ALMS
Darren TurnerAston Martin Racing at Le Mans and in FIA GT
Guy SmithDyson Racing in ALMS, Rebellion Racing at Le Mans, won LM24 in 2003
Peter DumbreckSpyker at Le Mans, Sumo Power in FIA GT
Richard WestbrookGT driver for various teams at Le Mans and in LMS, ALMS
Jonny KaneStrakka Racing in the LMS
Johnny MowlemSeems to race anything coming his way...
Charlie Hollings
Rob BarffLong-time GT & prototype driver and team owner
Sean EdwardsPorsche Supercup (F1 support races)
Stuart Hall
Marc Hynes1999 British F3 champion, misc other starts
Stuart PringleBRDC Club Secretary

I couldn't find any information about Hollings and Hall but I think it is safe to assume the latter isn't the famous commentator!

Oliver 'Olly' Gavin is acting as 'team leader' as he has competed in 3 London Marathons already and is one of the faster among the group, last year clocking three hours ten seconds, just those few seconds over his target time - which he is determined to beat.

I was desperate to get under the three-hour mark, but I missed it by those 11 seconds, which is hugely frustrating. [Corvette teammate] Jan Magnussen said he laughed so much that I missed it by 11 seconds, which is typically Jan! I don't think Jan would run any further than to the drugstore and back! I'm very, very keen to get underneath the three-hour mark if I can. If I'm the first one of the BRDC runners, then great. If I get beaten by one of them, I won't mind as long as I've gone underneath my target time. We'll see how hard Jan is laughing after this year's event!

Oliver Gavin

It seems the abilities of the runners varies greatly, as Marino is merely looking to record a finish.

Completing the marathon would be a journey into the unknown as the longest run I have planned is 20 miles. I did do a half marathon pre-Sebring.

Marino Franchitti


The team hoped to raise £50,000 from donations for this race, as of the BRDC announcement they had already reached £35,000 and this was prior to Friday night's charity dinner where they hoped to raise £10,000 - late Friday night it emerged via Olly Gavin's Facebook page and Guy Smith's Twitter that they actually raised £35,000, pushing the total over £75,000!

This is a phenomenal effort and donations are still being accepted, if you feel you wish to contribute just head to this JustGiving page which looks like a Who's Who of Motorsport such are the names on the list:

Allan McNish, David Brabham, Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon, Karun Chandhok, Mark Webber, Derek Warwick, Jan Magnussen, James Thompson, BTCC director Alan Gow, Nick Mason, Charlie Whiting, Sky TV's NASCAR/IndyCar host Keith Huewen, voice of not-F1 motorsport Martin Haven, Autosport journo Simon Strang, as well as several current or former teams of the drivers and a few team sponsors.

I'd heard of this initiative some while ago but it was only when I found the donation link when writing this post that I realised just how many people across the world of motorsport from top to bottom, left to right, are backing this. A true heart-warming story for a great cause and I feel proud that 'our' sport has rallied round the guys and not just ignored the initiative.

Not everyone is in a position to donate though and particularly in this economy, I certainly can't afford much and I'm not posting this to push for donations, merely to give this some wider attention. So whether you donate or not let's all wish them the best of luck, they deserve to be cheered along the whole route, just as the other thousands of runners do, most of whom run for charity and often for a loved-one.

Follow the race

I doubt we'll have much news from the drivers as they are running, although some do have Twitter accounts I expect they'll be a little distracted. You can follow them here, just in case:

The London Marathon is live on BBC2 from 8.30am Sunday (switching from to BBC1 at 10), and British Eurosport from 9am - I suspect it'll be across Europe on Eurosport as well. Apologies, I don't know where you can see it if you are outside Europe.

Start times:

  • 9.00am Women
  • 9.15am Wheelchair
  • 9.25am Celebrity
  • 9.30am Men, and from a different start point the 'mass' race for fun and charity runners
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Credit: Moleitau / Flickr / Creative Commons

I suspect our group will be in the mass race at 9.30am, though quite rightly the focus of TV coverage for the first two hours or so will be on the professional runners. Who knows, perhaps after that we'll see an interview with a driver or two?

As I mentioned at the start of this post, the professional race is often worth watching in itself because let's face it, we like racing and this is a race. You have three races happening at once - the women's elite, men's elite and wheelchair events. These are the best distance runners in the world and they are racing the clock as much as each other, checking splits every kilometre and working out when to push and when to hold back. It isn't something to sit avidly watching on the edge of your seat, it is more like Le Mans where things take a while to play out, but if you just want to chill on the sofa on a Sunday morning with a cup of tea just watching something develop over about 2 hours, this is ideal.

After that the focus switches to the charity runners (like the guys with the rhino suits) and that's when you see the true face of the London Marathon, and it is brilliant. Like I say, most are running for charity, I'm not afraid to say the mid-race interviews with some of the runners gets me every year.

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Credit: PhotoGraham / Flickr / Creative Commons

For further information you can consult Official site, interactive track map and the Wikipedia page.

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It also has a really clever logo. Look! The finish tape is the Thames!

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