Meet this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon runners

A man running in a park
Image from Andy Fountain
Natalie Clarkson
by Natalie Clarkson
1 October 2020

This year’s Virgin Money London Marathon will look a little different. There’ll be no crowds lining the city’s streets, the elite runners will compete in a closed-loop circuit around St James’s Park, and the masses will run, walk or jog their 26.2 miles in their own way, on their own route.

Many of the runners will be raising money for charities who have missed out on funds due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Meet some of the Virgin Money London Marathon heroes.

Bob Deacon

Bob is a 71-year-old veteran runner from Hertfordshire. He was Mencap’s first London Marathon runner back in 1982 and ran for them again in the 1980s and 1990s. This year, he’ll be running 18 laps around his village, Furneux Pelham, to complete his 26.2 miles. 

Bob Deacon wearing a skin coloured leotard with a leaf over the crotch running the Virgin Money London Marathon
Image from Bob Deacon

“I am honoured to run the virtual marathon for Mencap this year. While I would have loved to have run past the Houses of Parliament and the Cutty Sark and over Tower Bridge, I am just as excited that I can run the streets around my hometown and raise funds for this amazing charity,” Bob said.

“It is fantastic that the organisers of the London Marathon and Virgin Money have given me the chance to run again this year and I apologise in advance to the residents of Furneux Pelham for the Adam outfit!”

Elizabeth Elmer

Elizabeth is running for The Lily Foundation, the UK’s leading mitochondrial disease charity. She sadly lost her five-year-old daughter Keira to a mitochondrial disease in July 2016 and will be running in recognition of the valuable work that the foundation does.

Elizabeth Elmer holding a photograph of her daughter Keira
Image from Elizabeth Elmer

She said: “I have met many amazing families through the foundation over the last few years. There is currently no effective treatment and no cure for these conditions, so I am passionate about assisting in the search.

“It will be a tough run, but my two daughters are my inspiration and will see me through to the finish line.”

Andy Fountain

Andy is taking part in the virtual Virgin Money London Marathon to raise money for Rockinghorse children’s charity, a Brighton-based organisation that works to provide additional equipment for sick children and babies. 

A man running on a road
Image from Andy Fountain

The charity offered support to Andy and his family when his son was born with tracheoesophageal fistula and had to undergo several hours of surgery when he was born. 

“Whenever I can take on challenges to raise money for Rockinghorse - I do,” Andy said. “And this year especially has put a lot of pressure on charities, so I am eager to raise money and awareness.”

Joe Williams

Joe Williams will be raising money for Weston Hospicecare, where his wife works as a community nurse. The charity provides free expert and compassionate palliative care to people with life-limiting illnesses.

Joe Williams with his dad Michael
Image from Joe Williams

Joe will walk the marathon with his father, Michael Williams, following a route in Hertfordshire where Michael lives. Michael will be walking to support Dreams Come True, a national charity which works to fulfil the dreams and grants wishes of children and young adults with serious and life-limiting conditions.

On the race, Joe Williams commented: “I am very excited about completing the route with my dad. We have always wanted to do a marathon together and the fact that this year’s race will be held remotely will allow us to do that for the first time. There are some silver linings to the situation.”

Grant Mackay

Grant is an internal communications manager at Virgin Money and he’ll be running for Virgin Money’s Charity of the Year, Mencap. His chosen course for the race is four 6.5 mile loops near his home in the village of Dunlop, Scotland. This year is his ninth London Marathon.

Grant Mackay holding his medal from the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon
Image from Grant Mackay

“This year will be different from any of the others for sure, but I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “I’m sure by the time Sunday comes I’ll be a little nervous, but my training has been going well and I’m up for the 40th race!

“Through some volunteering I do, I’ve seen first-hand the challenges people with a learning disability face and also the joy that sport and opportunities to get involved in sport can have on their lives. I was delighted to get a place to support them. The team at Mencap have been amazing despite all the challenges they’ve faced this year.”

The virtual Virgin Money London Marathon is taking place on Sunday 4 October. Visit to find out more.