APRIL 27, 2010
From horsepower to foot power
Having witnessed a tough start for his new Virgin Racing team in the first four flyaway grands prix, Sir Richard Branson forgot about horsepower and donned his running shoes to take part in last weekend's London Marathon.
The race, which has a 30-year history and is now recognised as the world's foremost marathon, was sponsored by Virgin for the first time in 2010, Branson's company taking over from longtime race backers, Flora.
Branson completed the 26.2 miles in 5h02m24s to come 26,867th among the estimated 36,000 runners who started the race. "It was just an unbelievable experience!" he enthused just after crossing the line. His performance placed him 681st in the 55-59 age category.
The marathon also saw strong representation from the BRDC (British Racing Drivers Club), with 1995 British F3 champion and former Benetton test driver Oliver Gavin the star of the show with his first ever sub three hour time. The 37-year-old sportscar driver finished in 2:54.19 and 657th overall, just five minutes up on '97 British F3 champion compatriot Jonny Kane, who broke the magic three hour barrier by just 31 seconds!
Not quite running with the hares but playing their part in the BRDC raising $80,000 for children's cancer charity CLIC Sargent, were Marino Franchitti (3:46.04), brother of IRL star Dario, triple world touring car champion Andy Priaulx (3:49.31) and Peter Dumbreck (3:56.20), who all managed to beat the four hour target set by many inexperienced but fit potential marathon runners.
Branson's children, Sam and Holly, were part of a record-breaking caterpillar which set a new world mark for the maximum number of people to finish a marathon tied together (in this case by a bungee rope), finishing the race 11 minutes behind Sir Richard.