unners have returned to the heart of London for a family-friendly race that has been dubbed “a mile with a smile”.
Former English cricket captain Sir Andrew Strauss, who ran in memory of his late wife Ruth, was among thousands of people of all ages attending the first Vitality Westminster Mile event in central London in two years due to the pandemic.
Sir Andrew, 45, whose wife died in December 2018 at the age of 46 of a rare form of lung cancer affecting non-smokers, said “having so many people here who support us is fantastic”.
His children Sam and Luca and former English teammate Ian Bell were among the supporters of the Ruth Strauss Foundation, the charity he set up in 2019 to help grieving families cope with the death of a parent and more research into non-smoking lung cancer. .
Sir Andrew said: “” I ran with my two sons and we were all supposed to run together but halfway kicked my eldest son home and left us for dead then my youngest son drove me to the finish line so I was third place in the family today but I will get them back next year.
“They love to participate. There are so many people here from Ruth’s life, so it’s great for us to see everyone and catch up.
“It’s such an inclusive event for families where children, parents and grandparents all participate.”
The 15 waves of races included special events for organizations like parkrun, as well as school miles.
There was also a wave for Special Olympics GB – an organization that uses sports to promote inclusion and community for people with intellectual disabilities.
Nils Liborg and his son Noah, nine years old from Ealing in west London, finished in just over 6 minutes and 14 seconds in the family wave, followed by mother Ingvild and Noah’s sister Sarah a few minutes later.
Sir. Liborg said “it’s good to be back”.
Among the younger runners were two-year-old Eadie Appleby and his four-year-old brother Hamish along with their parents Claire and Richard from Twickenham in south-west London, who said they were going sightseeing afterwards.
Adult runners looking for a quick time took part in the first mile of the day, which began at The Mall.
Simon Byrne of Swindon Harriers, who first crossed the finish line at Buckingham Palace in 4 minutes and 20 seconds, said: “I’ve never run this race before, so I did not really know what to expect. I was surprised to win.
“The conditions were pretty perfect and there was a big crowd of people in front who kept the pace high.”
Martha Wightman, sister of Jake Wightman, who reached the 1500m athletics final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and whose parents Geoff and Susan are marathon runners, was the first woman to cross the line in a time of 5 minutes and 17 seconds.
She said, “I did not expect to be the first. But I enjoyed it – so to speak!”
Illias Zghoundi, 15, clocked 4 minutes and 7 seconds to win the first junior wheelchair race at the event, with Ellis Kottas, 18, being the first girl at home in 5 minutes and 28 seconds.