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Top cop conquers 'Caribbean heat' to complete first London Marathon

23 Apr 2018 12:00 PM

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A Northumbria Police cop went from walking the beat to running 26.2 miles on Sunday as he conquered the sizzling heat to complete his first London Marathon.

Temporary sergeant Ian Ritchie, who has worked at the force for 15 years, was among the 40,000 brave runners who completed the world-renowned endurance challenge in burning temperatures of up to 24C.

Qualifying as one of the country’s top club runners after finishing last year’s Great North Run in sub-75 minutes, the 37-year-old headed down to the capital to meet his biggest challenge head on.

And despite the sapping heat and suffering a stinging injury half-way through, Sgt Ritchie held his nerve and showed incredible determination to cross the line inside the three-hour mark.

“It was like running a marathon in the Caribbean,” the South Shields-born cop admitted as he proudly hung a hard-earned finisher’s medal around his neck.

“It was brutal – I was running well until around 16 miles when I was tripped over and smashed my knees and shoulder.

“I had to really stick in and overcome the mental challenge to get to the finish, but given the heat and with bleeding knees, I was delighted to cross the line in 2h54.

“It was tough going, there’s no doubt about it,  but it was fantastic to be part of such an iconic event alongside thousands of people who each had their own inspirational stories while raising millions of pounds for good causes.”

For Sgt Ritchie, who runs alongside officers up and down the country for Police Sport UK, it was an achievement well worth the pain.

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After taking up running six years ago, he has become an accomplished 5k competitor who regularly races at regional competitions.

But long-distance is fast becoming his forte, and after finishing 64th in the 2017 Great North Run, Sunderland Harrier Sgt Ritchie is now looking to build on his London heroics in the future.

“Running my first marathon was always going to be a big challenge, but it’s something I’ll never forget,” he added.

“I did say that running the marathon would be good preparation for some of the shorter races I’ve got coming up over the next few months – but would I do it again? I probably will, yeah!”

A record 386,050 runners applied for this year's London Marathon, almost a third more than in 2017 and the highest number for any marathon in the world.