The TCS London Marathon is less than a week away, and our runners are buzzing with excitement. 

The days leading to the marathon that will take over the British capital are always an incredible time of training, of preparation and adrenaline. This is also the perfect moment to glance at some of the inspiring stories of these creative runners: behind a costume and a record attempt, we always find amazing challenges and incredible stories - the kind that makes us smile and reflect.

Stories of bravery, loss and healing that resonate with many of us.

Preparing themselves for the big day - from marathons that will be tackled while carrying fridges and heavy milk bottles to lifeguards, golfers, scientists and lobsters running for a good cause - our runners seem ready for a weekend jam-packed with fun and records.

Without further ado, let’s meet some more runners that will attempt to break a record during the TCS London Marathon 2023.

Emma with a squirrel mask

Fastest marathon dressed as a mammal (female)  

Emma Stevenson is in her forties, loves squirrels (and Elton John's music!) and works as a Senior Land & Consents Officer. 

With a lovely family in Nottingham – she lives with her partner Damian and his daughter Carrie, as well as an adorable dog named Monty – Emma soon discovered that she didn’t care much about the competitive aspect of running. 

Running can be relaxing, inspiring and life-changing, and Emma wanted to embrace the positive aspects of it while having fun.

As it turned out, this change of pace gave her the right motivation to keep succeeding: so far, she has finished six marathons and, in 2022, she also completed her first Ironman.

Challenging the London Marathon in a squirrel costume, Emma has decided to raise money for Cancer Research UK. The organization fights a battle that is very close to Emma's heart since, unfortunately, her mother has recently been diagnosed with bowel cancer.

Emma’s family already confronted this terrible condition after her partner’s father passed away due to the same disease. 

Running under the banner of Cancer Research UK seemed just the perfect way of raising funds and awareness for the continuous battle against the illness which, every day, affects countless of people and families.

Emma in squirrel costume on a tree

Why a squirrel, though, you might want to know? Well… 

“It’s a long story,” Emma says, jokingly “And Elton John’s fault!” 

“I have a couple of friends who are running in London for the first time this April. I thought I would apply too, so I could come along and enjoy the weekend with them and have a bit of a celebration afterwards,” she explains. 

“After applying I realised that my tickets to see Elton John in Liverpool fell on the same weekend as the marathon, so my partner and I wouldn’t be able to run.” 

However, thanks to a fated change of plans in Elton’s dates, Emma realised that she could run in London after all! 

After that, although it would indeed be “the hardest thing she’s ever done”, she thought that attempting a Guinness World Records would be the perfect way of motivating herself to give her best during the race while also having fun.

“Damian had already suggested a squirrel to me, just because I love squirrels.” 

One of her friends then mentioned that he owned a squirrel tail that she could use, and Emma started building her hyper-realistic costume from there!  

Larissa with tropic board

Fastest marathon dressed as a savoury food (female)  

Larissa Kolasinski has flown in from Seattle, Washington, to conquer the British capital during the London Marathon.

Not new to this kind of events, Larissa coaches for a youth track and cross-country team in her local area.

“I have been running for over a decade now,” she explains. “I ran my first marathon when I was 15 years old, and I have been running them ever since.” 

Passionate about all things outdoor, she competed in track and cross country at the collegiate level and has completely embraced her passion for hiking during the pandemic.

Which leads us to Larissa's other great passion: snacking, but with a twist!

Her costume (representing a charcuterie board) was born from her unified love for both these activities, and it celebrates how Larissa managed to combine them in a unique way. 

“When we would reach the summit of a hike, I got in the habit of setting up elaborate charcuterie board spreads on the tops of mountain summits.” 

“I love the charcuterie board since there is so much room for creativity,” she says. 

Larissa hoisting champagne glass

“The epic charcuterie boards on tops of peaks encapsulated everything I appreciate about the outdoors: endurance events, proper fueling, and keeping oneself entertained with their own imagination, so I thought it would be perfect to capture in my costume.” - Larissa

“I have a goal to complete all of the Abbott World Marathon Majors,” she explains. 

With the London Marathon she will be halfway through with her goal and, for this event, her decision to raise funds for WaterAid came from her personal experience. 

Thanks to her work, Larissa has seen first-hand how clean water can make the difference in the day-to-day. 

Specifically, she was inspired to raise funds for the nonprofit organization (which focuses on providing clean and sustainable sources of clean water to local communities) while coaching a women’s teenage running team at a rescue centre in Kenya. 

 “Last year I spent some time in Kenya coaching a women’s teenage running team at a rescue centre for Maasai girls,” she explains. 

“I got to experience first-hand how clean water and hygiene had completely transformed these girls' lives.” 

“Because of clean drinking water and sanitation, these girls were able to focus on their studies, stay in school. They could even compete successfully in running events in their country and internationally.” 

Fastest marathon dressed as a three-dimensional dinosaur (male)  

Living in Cambridge, father-of-three Richard Allison is well acquainted with sports and marathons: he works as a sports dietitian and performance nutrition consultant and has already tackled plenty of marathon-related challenges.

After his eldest son, Hugo, was diagnosed with autism, Richard (who already conquered 12 marathons and seven ultramarathons) decided to dedicate his sports achievements to raising money for the National Autistic Society

Keen to raise money and awareness toward the condition, in the past Richard already tackled challenges and sport-related fundraising campaigns to aid the nonprofit organization.

He already underwent the challenge of running every day for a year, no matter the conditions: come rain, sunshine or snow, he would complete a minimum of one mile every day. 

After the success of that challenge, Richard continued to relentlessly campaign to raise awareness on the condition: not only for his son Hugo, but also for many other children and adults living with a similar condition.

“I am doing it for my children.” – Richard

Although he's certainly not new to marathon and races, this year will mark Richard's very first event in a costume.

His special dino costume is inspired by his son's love for dinosaurs ("Ted is mad for dinosaurs," he joked) and it has been created thanks to a team effort with his daughter Ava.

He’s sure this will be his hardest challenge to date, but Richard is also ready to tackle it for a very good cause and with his entire family cheering for him! 

Claudia smiling at camera

Fastest marathon in a non-racing wheelchair 

At 28, Claudia Burrough has participated in eight marathons since 2019. She lives in Kingston upon Thames, where she works in Disability and Mental Health Support within Higher Education.

“I’d always been quite active but never particularly fancied running on its own,” she admits, recalling how she got into running. 

However, despite her initial disinterest in jogging, her competitive spirit soon kicked in: because of that, Claudia in 2017 set herself the goal of running the 2019 London Marathon. 

“After doing a few park runs, I noticed I was getting quicker. As a super competitive person, I wanted to keep pushing myself, so I increased the distance I was running.”

The year after, however, a sudden decline in her health forced her to a stop and in August 2018 Claudia became a wheelchair user. 

Although her approach to the challenge inevitably changed, she did not abandon her goal of taking part in the London Marathon 2019. 

“Seven months out from the marathon, I found myself unable to walk - let alone run,” she says. 

“I was told I could attempt the race in my wheelchair but being unable to push more than 100 metres without getting exhausted. I thought this was impossible, but I also thought I’d give it a try.” 

“Seven months later and significantly stronger, I completed the 2019 London Marathon in 4:00:02.” - Claudia

Since that success in 2019, Claudia has participated in eight marathons. 

In April 2023, she will add two more to her bucket list: Boston and London, with the latter representing for Claudia the highlight of the year and an example of inclusivity.

“I really enjoy taking part in all road races but especially marathons,” she reveals. 

Even though striving for a Guinness World Records title will further motivate Claudia, giving her another reason “to give her absolute all,” she hopes that her participation will also encourage more wheelchair users and raise awareness over disability. 

With her attempt, she hopes to inspire more people to take on new challenges.

“As a wheelchair user, I often experience barriers day to day, either physical access issues or people's negative attitudes towards disability. Taking part in races gives me a huge sense of freedom and enjoyment to just push as fast as I can.” 

“I enjoy pushing my body to its limits, showing that disability is not a negative and, in fact, disabled people can achieve so much with the right support and environment. “ - Claudia

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