THEY are getting ready for the race of their lives.

Dozens of Hampshire runners will take part in today's London Marathon to raise money for a variety of good causes.

The race will see 36,000 entrants tackle a 26-mile and 385 yard course around the capital taking in landmarks such as the Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge and the Houses of Parliament.

Big names from athletics are also involved, including Olympic hero Mo Farah who makes his marathon debut.

But here the Daily Echo introduces some of the local runners and why they are taking on the challenge.

  • HAMPSHIRE dad James Gamble will be running for his little girl.

Lily, four, was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis, an incurable condition where benign tumours or birth marks grow all over their bodies, in November.

Now her dad will take on the marathon race to raise money and awareness for the condition that can affect the nervous system and lead to mild learning difficulties.

The 37-year-old father-of-two from Hedge End has already raised more than £3,000 through cake sales for the Neuro Foundation a charity funding research and supporting patients with the condition.

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James said: “As parents we obviously want to do everything possible to help her lead a normal, healthy life.

“While we are going through the process of lots of tests and meeting with health professionals, I was keen to do something to raise awareness of the disorder, but also to raise money for the charity that works to improve the lives of people affected by neurofibromatosis.”

Sponsor James at the website:

  • DAD-of-one Matthew Southey is running in support of Trinity Winchester, a shelter for the homeless that helps people rebuild their lives.

Matthew, 41, who weighed in at twenty stone before training started and suffers from Crohn’s disease and asthma, said he was inspired to run for the charity after seeing the work they do first hand. 

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Matthew, of Riverside Gardens in Romsey, said: “When you are there you realise that no matter where you are in your life, it doesn’t take much for it all to go wrong and for you to find yourself where they are. There are young kids there and it is heart breaking.

“You would have to have a heart of stone not to throw yourself into it.”

  • BUSINESS owner Steven Davies, 33, is running for Tommy, which researches miscarriages, stillbirths and premature births. 

The father of three and his wife Amanda have been holding fundraisers all year, including a coffee morning at their home for the WAGs of Whiteley, and have so far raised more than £5,000. 

In January 2013, Steven and Amanda went for a routine check-up with their midwife.
A few hours later, Amanda had delivered their stillborn 18-week-old son Adam at Princess Anne Hospital in Southampton

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Steven said: “It was the most difficult time in our lives, and you don’t realise how common it is. We are so lucky to have three beautiful children already, but last year was very traumatic for our family. 

“Tommy’s charity was at the hospital if we needed support and it just feels right to do this for Adam. 

Now Amanda is pregnant again – and due to give birth next month.

Sponsor Steven at:

  • THEY look certain to turn heads as they pound the pavements.

Martin Neal and Josh Press, both from Whiteley, will be donning hippo and duck costumes to run tomorrow’s London Marathon.

They will be raising money and awareness for charity Dreams Come True, which raises money to help fulfil dreams for terminally and seriously ill children and young people.

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The charity has teamed up with bed manufacturer Silentnight and their have-a-go Hippo and plucky Duck.

It may look fun, but Martin, who is the charity’s fundraising manager, and Josh will be carrying an extra 22lb of weight.

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  • A SOUTHAMPTON man is running in aid of an arthritis charity to remember his mother-in-law.

Chris Baylis from Merry Oak will raise money for Arthritis Care, a patient support group charity for those living with the condition.

The charity is very close to his heart, as his mother-in-law Jill suffered with rheumatoid arthritis for half her life, before passing away in 2014.

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The 32-year-old hopes to raise at least £1,800 through his efforts.

To prepare himself he is running up to 40 miles a week in Hampshire, as well as playing five-a-side football.

He is no stranger to challenges like this, as he has previously run the Bupa London 10k and the Great South Run.

Sponsor Chris at:

  • A SOUTHAMPTON professor is set to experience the chill-factor at the London Marathon.

Tony Kendrick had his beloved hair shaved off ahead of running in aid of Wessex Medical Research, which funds studies into Alzheimer’s, heart disease, leukaemia and other diseases.

The 57-year-old from Emery Down in the New Forest works as a research professor at Southampton Medical School, and in his spare time is a member of Totton Running Club.

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It was fellow member Sophie James, who works as a hairdresser at Elegance Saloon in Totton, who shaved his head.

He said: “It is a bit cold and a bit pale at the moment, but some people say I look better because I have lost the grey hairs.”

Sponsor Tony at:

  • MANY people celebrate their 50th birthday with a big party with their loved ones.

But when Susan Allen hit the golden milestone, she decided to run the London Marathon.

She and her partner John Robertson, 53, will take on the challenge tomorrow to raise money for the Lymphoma Association.

The couple from Shirley, Southampton, who are both directors of JSR Management and HR Consultancy in Southampton, hope to raise £3,000 to help people affected by lymphoma – the UK’s fifth most common cancer.

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Susan wanted to run the marathon to maintain her weight after losing 100lbs three years ago.

The grandparents-of-five have taken part in the Great South Run twice and Susan has also taken part in the Race for Life but this is the first time they have run the London Marathon.

Sponsor Susan and John at:

  • THEY will be running as a heartfelt thank you to a Southampton children's charity.

For the past four years, Tim and Katie Waldron have been grateful for the respite care provided for their eight-year-old daughter Isabel by the Rose Road Association.

Now they will show their appreciation by raising more than £5,000 by pounding the streets of the capital.

“Isabel was born 15 weeks premature, weighing just one pound thirteen ounces. Very shortly after she was born she suffered a severe brain haemorrhage, resulting in cerebral palsy and epilepsy,” explained Tim, 38.

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“She can be very demanding but since moving to Southampton, we’ve been given fantastic support by Rose Road.

Katie is an accounts administrator for Paintpots Nurseries in Southampton and Tim is the chief executive of Love 146 (Europe), an international human rights organisation working to end child trafficking and exploitation.

The couple live in Banister Park, Southampton.

Sponsor Tim and Katie at: