Published: 06:00, 26 April 2019
| Updated: 08:59, 28 April 2019
The 39th London Marathon is today – with hundreds of Kent entrants lining up at the start.
Runners taking part in the largest annual fundraising event in the world have each chosen a charity to support, working hard to rake in sponsors over the last few months.
This year's donations are set for a charity record, already up by 20% on 2018.
Listed below are some of the county's most determined pavement pounders, who have pulled on their trainers no matter the weather, in a bid to complete the infamous 26-mile race.
Inspired by his older brother who has lived with Multiple Sclerosis since he was 13, Liam Dowd is running for a charity supporting people with this debilitating condition.
His brother, Michael, had to re-learn how to walk, talk and use his hands twice following relapses since his first flare-up.
A former Simon Langton Boys' and Canterbury College pupil, 36-year-old Liam is now raising funds to help other people living with MS, which affects the brain and spinal cord.
To sponsor him click here.
A determined dad is taking on the London Marathon to say "Frank you" to Darent Valley's special care baby unit.
Michael Foudy, 35, spent weeks at Walnut Ward after the premature birth of his son, Frank, now four.
The accountant, from The Bridge, Dartford, described the time as the most "harrowing" of his life, and has thanked the "very special people" who work at the Dartford hospital.
He said: "There were lots of tears, we had so many questions and, to be brutally honest, the main question - would he live or die?
"It could have been so very different, we know how lucky we are and we will never be able to say "Frank you" enough, but I'd like to try and give a little bit back."
To donate click here.
Dover and Deal
One contender will hand out a rose every 10 minutes of his run to stress one woman in the UK is diagnosed with breast cancer this frequently.
Martin Bowman of Elms Vale, Dover, is running for Breast Cancer Now after his partner was diagnosed with the disease.
He said: "I aim to finish in five hours and will be running with 30 pink roses to represent each woman diagnosed during my marathon.
The IT services worker, 50, added: "Every £50 raised goes towards sponsoring a rose and each will have a message to explain why and who sponsored it.
"The aim is not only to raise funds to help find a cure but to also further raise awareness."
To sponsor Martin click here.
Supply English teacher Lisa Buckler has been building up her stamina through weights and strength work in preparation for the marathon.
Raising money for The Lullaby Trust, a charity which supports families affected by Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS),this is the 38-year-old's third marathon.
The former Goodwin Academy teacher from Deal said: "Running the London marathon has always been a dream for me and to run it whilst raising money for such a worthwhile charity means such a lot."
To help Lisa support The Lullaby Trust click here.
Disability charity Martha Trust has 11 runners taking part in this year's 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon.
Chris Barnes, Nigel Laker, Dave Henderson, Peter Norris, John Tigwell and David Shooter are among those taking on the 26-mile challenge on Sunday, all from Dover and Deal.
They have each pledged to raise £1,500 to support people with profound disabilities living at Martha Trust's homes in Hacklinge near Deal and Sussex.
Fundraising and events officer Kerry Banks said: "We'd like to wish all of our runners the very best of luck and thank them for choosing to raise vital funds to help our residents.
"Martha Trust prides itself on providing the very best level of care with the fundraising providing the extras which ensure our residents are able to live life to the full."
To donate to the trust click here.
A 38-year-old woman whose husband was diagnosed with cancer just months after they married is set to run in thanks to Macmillan Cancer Support.
Just weeks before the big day, Maria Keen's husband, Jason, began to feel unwell and was told he needed hospital tests the day they were due to go on their honeymoon.
Around five months later he was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma.
Luckily, since undergoing a triple heart bypass, Jason is now cancer free.
The Faversham Running Club member, who works as an optical consultant while also studying for a physiotherapy degree, said: "I've run marathons before and I said never again but after everything we've been through and all Macmillan has done I wanted to put my knees through it one last time."
To sponsor Maria click here.
A man who lost more than nine stone in six months is now ready to take on the London Marathon for his grandad.
Daniel Williams, 27, will run his first ever marathon on Sunday, raising money for the Pilgrims Hospices who cared for his grandfather.
Shrinking from a ballooning 25st to a whippet-thin 15st 11lb through sheer hard training and a healthy diet, he hopes to finish the marathon in six hours.
The refectory chef for the East Kent College Group in Folkestone said: "The weight started falling off me very quickly and to date I have covered over 1,000 miles through a mixture of walking and running.
"I know my grandad would be very proud of me and I am determined to do this to give back even a fraction of what the hospice gave us as a family. I can't wait to cross that finishing line for my grandad."
If you want to help Daniel raise more money for the hospice click here.
Another who has been pounding the pavements this year is mother-of-four who re-learnt how to walk and talk after having two strokes.
Evelyn Dalton suffered an infarction to the right side of her brain when she was 30, but has since raised hundreds for charity.
The 39-year-old, of St Patrick's Gardens, Gravesend, is raising money for Imago Community, an organisation which creates opportunities for society's most vulnerable.
For Evelyn, whose four children have autism, it is a charity close to her heart, as three of her sons have benefited from its work.
The single parent has decided to make this year her final marathon in order to dedicate more time to her family.
To donate to Evelyn's page click here.
At 84, you would think great-grandfather Alan Dudney would be thinking about putting his feet up and relaxing.
But instead the super-fit pensioner is swapping his slippers for running shoes as he takes on the the London Marathon this Sunday - for a 10th time.
Alan Dudney, from Lower Herne Road, will tackle the 26-mile course for Parkinson's UK in memory of his late brother, Sid.
Retired art dealer Alan ran his first in 2001 in just under four hours, but says he will be happy just to get over the line this time around.
He said: "It becomes addictive. I can't say you enjoy it because it's tough, but somehow the adrenaline kicks in and you get through it."
Alan will be joined at the start line this weekend by Sid's son, Paul, 55, and 25-year-old grandson, Alex.
To donate click here.
A Bearsted dad-of-two who spent months in denial about his dangerously high blood pressure will run to stress the importance of keeping healthy.
Last January, Paul Young, 47, came out with a sky-high reading of 206/140mmHg. A normal reading is around 120/80.
A year after diagnosis, the IT specialist's blood pressure is now under control.
He said: "Blood pressure is a silent killer, it has no outward symptoms. Just get checked."
Paul is running to raise money for Blood Pressure UK.
To donate click here.
Maidstone's Joanne Cadman is hoping this weekend will help her realise her ambition of running a marathon in her 50th year.
Since joining Beginners to Runners at Grove Green she has so far completed races ranging from three to 20 miles.
She has been training three times a week, come wind rain and even snow in a bid to raise money for Demelza Hospice Care for Children in Bobbing.
Her husband, Paul, said: "We should all support and be extremely proud of Joanne's commitment and drive."
To help Joanne raise more money click here.
It is take two for Kerry Slevin, who took on the race last year for same charity - The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust.
Previously, the 47-year-old from Harrietsham finished in five hours and nine minutes, but this year she wants to make it in less than five.
The charity provides support to women and their families who have gone through the trauma of ectopic pregnancy - something Kerry has experienced twice.
After applying for six years in a row, Louise Lovell is finally set to achieve her goal of participating in the race which began in 1981.
The 39-year-old, of Cambridge Way in Maidstone, had never run further than three miles when she put her name forward but it was her ambition to complete the 26-mile course before her 40th birthday.
She will be running for Hospice UK.
The security supervisor said: "Hospice UK was there for my mum when she became terminally ill with cancer - they helped make her last few weeks more comfortable and bearable."
To donate click here.
Another hoping to make it to the finish line on Sunday is Daniel Arda, from Queen's Avenue in Maidstone, who has lost nearly a stone and a half since he started training.
But it not just his health that is motivating him.
The 39-year-old is hoping to raise £2,000 for Crisis Employment Services, which helps homeless people to find work.
He said: "After five years away from regular exercise, I took part in the JP Morgan Chase Challenge last July and the Royal Parks Half Marathon eight weeks later. To maintain the momentum, I decided to take on the marathon for Crisis - a charity I'm incredibly passionate about."
Click here to help Daniel raise even more funds.
Maidstone dad Andy Bartram is taking a relaxed approach to the London Marathon.
Since the turn of the year the 47-year-old intelligence analyst, who lives near Buckland Road, has swapped a suit for slippers and pyjamas on his morning commute to help boost his fundraising efforts.
Andy originally thought he had missed out on a spot in the marathon but three months ago, learned he had been accidently signed up by City and East London Bereavement Service, who he ran for last year.
He is determined to hit a target of £1,500, so to donate click here.
A theatre support worker who was born with a rare liver disease will be running for an organisation close to her heart.
Lauren Taylor, from Teston, said: "I spent much of my childhood in and out of hospitals.
"I am one of the lucky ones. I want to give back to Children's Liver Disease Foundation who were there for my family when they really needed it."
To support the 32-year-old, who works for Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, click here.
A private jet pilot from Maidstone will be supporting the charity he credits for saving him when he was younger.
Mark Mills said: "The NSPCC is an organisation close to my heart. As a child, they took me into their care, gave me guidance and helped protect me from violence and abuse."
To donate click here.
Bex Commons is running to raise money for Arunachala Animal Shelter, set up by an 82-year-old animal activist who helped reduce brutal culls of homeless creatures in India.
After making a donation to the charity, Bex became friends with founder, Leslie Robinson, by talking through email.
She travelled to the shelter last month and since winning a Lucozade competition to run the marathon, decided it would be her chosen charity to support.
The 36-year-old from Maidstone hopes to raise £5,000 for the shelter.
To sponsor Bex click here.
Tonbridge and Malling
It was third time lucky for our kmfm Breakfast presenter, Laura Crockett, who got a place in the marathon through the ballot after missing out two years in a row.
Out of 414,000 people who entered, 17,500 got a place, Laura being one of them.
The 29-year-old from West Malling, who has been entertaining Kent commuters since 2015, is running for the Rotary Club of Medway.
kmfm Breakfast presenter Laura Crockett is running the marathon
Every year, the charity takes six poorly children from Ellenor Hospice to Disneyland to make some lovely memories, and Laura is contributing to this.
She said: "The training has been going really well, I've gone up to 21 miles so far which was really, really hard.
"I've lost a couple of toenails in the training but it's all coming together and this Sunday is the big day so fingers crossed it goes okay."
Click here to sponsor Laura.
Tanya Lunn, who works as a special educational needs teacher, has been inspired to run the marathon by her 10-year-old son Alfie and two-year-old niece Zowie, who are both autistic.
The 38-year-old, from Kings Hill, will be raising money for national disability charity, Sense.
She said: "Sense are helping children like Alfie and Zowie communicate and experience the world. I am really looking forward to it."
To help Tanya raise even more for her chosen charity click here.
Sevenoaks' Rae McCarthy, a marketing professional, is using her race to support The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), after her father's successful cancer treatment.
He was diagnosed with stage four tongue cancer in 2012, but has since recovered.
She said: "Without research I am 100% sure he would have died.
"I wanted to say thank you and couldn't think of a better way than to raise money for the ICR."
Donate by clicking here.
This is the third marathon for Hildenborough mum Claire Gillick.
The school worker is supporting disability charity Contact.
To help Claire in her bid to raise £1,800 click here.
Joanna Griffin, from Croydon but whose dad lives and works on Sheppey, will run for Nerve Tumours UK as her nephew, Stanley Nash, was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis type one.
Her nephew’s diagnosis came out of the blue when he was one.
In most cases, the condition creates non-cancerous tumours on or under the skin. Although they are not dangerous in themselves, the lumps can cause complications where they grow, such as droopy eyes.
The part-time paramedic said: “My husband used to be in the Army so he has taken it upon himself to be my coach."
To support Joanna click here.
Emily Wakelen, a former Highsted Grammar School pupil, is raising money for Children with Cancer UK.
The 27-year-old chose this charity after the primary school teacher and children and their relatives in her class were helped by the charity.
Click here to donate to Emily's chosen charity.
It will be the first time Ash Holmwood, who lives on Sheppey and works for Cawston Specialist Roofing in Sittingbourne, has taken on the challenge.
The 30-year-old will be doing it in aid of the Ronald McDonald House Charities, which provide accommodation for families who have sick children in hospital.
The charity supported his family when his nephew, Oscar Riddick, was born 11 weeks early.
To contribute to Ash's chosen cause click here.
Two teachers from Grove Park School in Sittingbourne will also be running in aid of this organisation.
Christopher Denney and Nicola Day pledged to raise £3,000 and to help each child from the school took part in their own mini marathon – the idea being that if each child ran one mile, each class would run the equivalent of a marathon and more.
This has raised £3,764.50 and money is still coming in.
To visit the pair's fundraising page click here.
Charity worker Lisa Jury, of Ufton Lane, Sittingbourne, is to do it for Childhood First, which cares for youngsters with emotional issues.
To help Lisa reach her £1,800 target click here.
Phil Sweatman will be putting on his trainers yet again after completing the Brighton Marathon on April 14 in a time of 3:56:13.
It will be Phil’s third consecutive London Marathon in aid of Team Ben Hammond, which raises funds for heart screening following the death of Ben, 15, who lived in High Halden, from an undiagnosed heart condition in July 2016.
To sponsor Phil click here.
Spencer Goddard has been preparing for the 26-mile challenge to raise funds for the Tenterden Social Hub, where he is chief executive.
The 43-year-old has previously run the Paris Marathon and the London Marathon twice before.
He said: “I’m hoping the weather will be a little cooler this weekend but the idea is to get from point A to point B and celebrate.”
Tenterden Social Hub is marking its 40th year in 2019 and Spencer, who took charge of the Church Road group just seven months ago, said it was a remarkable feat for a small charity.
To support Spencer and the Hub click here.
Marathon first-timer Amy Clark, who lives in Appledore Road, had been struggling with injuries and only began serious training in March.
The 33-year-old is running for team Dementia Revolution after her Dad, Johnny Clark, a British and European bantamweight champion boxer, was diagnosed with vascular dementia at the age of 60.
Now age 72, the retired sportsman has spent the last eight years in care and Amy wants to do all she can to support those with the condition.
She said: “I’m not expecting to run a fast time but just hoping to get round the course.”
To sponsor Amy click here.
A heartbroken father whose son, Harry, died at just seven days old is channelling his grief into a fundraising mission.
Tom Richford has raised more than £10,000 for charity so far and his next target is to complete the London Marathon this Sunday.
Tom, from Birchington, said: "My wife, Sarah, and I have both found fundraising a great focus for our grief."
The 30 year-old secondary school teacher has decided to raise money for Child Bereavement UK, who support those who have lost a child.
Tom added: "We know losing a child creates a hole in your life which can never be filled. Charities such as this are a huge support to families like ours."
To donate click here.
Her knees and hips may not be what they used to be, but nothing will stop 62-year-old Breda Pooke from completing the London Marathon.
She said: "Some may think I'm nuts, and cheese and wine is probably not the best training diet, but I am ready and raring to go."
After several friends and family members having been affected by Bowel Cancer, Breda, from Birchington, is running in aid of Bowel & Cancer Research.
To help her raise as much as possible click here.
Another man from Birchington is set to take part in the marathon for the third year running in a bid to bring his fundraising total to more than £6,000.
Andrew Icke first completed the challenge in 2017, raising money for the Alzheimer's Society after his grandmother suffered from the disease.
The 40-year-old of Hunting Gate said: "I'm not a great runner, I'm not hugely into fitness, however what my story shows is that if you really put your mind to something, you can achieve it."
This time, he has chosen Children with Cancer UK, hoping to raise at least £2,000 and complete the run in four and a half hours.
To sponsor Andrew click here.
After her dad and uncle were both diagnosed with prostate cancer, Holly Shortland is determined to raise awareness of the disease.
By running for Prostate Cancer UK, the 32-year-old from Tunbridge Wells hopes to encourage more men to go to the doctors for check ups.
Last month, she took on the "massive" challenge of running the London Landmarks Half Marathon.
She said: "This is the first event like this I have ever done and finding the time to train with a newborn has been somewhat challenging but I really appreciate anything you can spare - thank you."
Prostate Cancer UK has a simple ambition - to stop men dying from prostate cancer. Through shifting the science over the next 10 years to focus on radical improvements in diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and support, their goal is to stop prostate cancer being a killer.
To help Holly raise more funds click here.
Twinspiration was the reason behind software development manager Georgios Antikatzidis' charity choice.
The 46-year-old, from Staplehurst, is father to 10 month olds Sophia and Leonidas, and will be running the marathon for Tamba, a twins and multiple births association.
He said: "When I was 18, and after a serious road traffic accident, doctors thought I would never walk without a limp - I not only can do that but intend to run a whole marathon."
Click here to sponsor Georgios.
More by this authorRebecca Tuffin