By SIMON TOMLINSON
On the road: Tens of thousands of professionals, fun runners and celebrities set off at the start of the 32nd Virgin London Marathon in glorious sunshine today
A host of celebrities joined tens of thousands of fun runners and amateur athletes as they set off for the 32nd London Marathon in bright sunshine today.
Up to 37,500 athletes are expected to finish the 26.2-mile course through the streets of the capital to earn their marathon medals and raise money for countless charities. The event was met with royal approval when Prince Harry arrived at the finish line to offer his support - and joked that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge should enter next year.
Newsreader Sophie Raworth, 43, ran in aid of St John's Ambulance after collapsing during last year's event and completed it in three hours 56 minutes.
She said: 'It was very hard. That was the first time I managed to go all the way round upright because last year I managed to have a bit of a disaster and collapsed.
'I found myself running the first 20 miles with a professor of sport so I reckoned that if I was to collapse again he'd probably know the warning signs.'
Pounding the streets: Up to 37,500 athletes were expected to finish the 26.2-mile course to earn their marathon medals and raise money for countless charities
James Cracknell, a double Olympic gold medal winner with the British rowing team, was aiming to continue his remarkable record of physical feats by running a third sub-three hour marathon.
The athlete has recovered from a life-threatening head injury suffered while attempting to cycle, row, run and swim from Los Angeles to New York in under 16 days.
Fundraising fever: James Argent (centre), from the Only Way Is Essex, joins the masses as they make their around the course to support various good causes
And having passed the finish line James Cracknell in 2 hours 59 minutes and 1 second he said the atmosphere on the course was a good omen for the Olympics.
He said: 'It's amazing and it's unlike running. Funnily enough you don't usuaully have hundreds and thousands of people clapping and applauding people they don't know. It makes it a very special day.
'It's an indicator of what [the Olympics] will be like.
Royal approval: Prince Harry poses with men's professional champion Wilson Kipsang and women's winner Mary Keitany after presenting them with their medals
Court jester: Harry (left) meeting volunteers on the Mall, where he joked if anyone had an iron for his creased trousers and (right) with Kipsang, Keitany and her son Jared
Landmark achievement: Two participants (left) puff round dressed as the Gherkin and Big Ben, while another dons an ice hockey outfit for the challenge
Fancy that! A male runner prances round in a rather fetching leopard-print mini-skirt and matching handbag, while takes on the course dressed as a womble
Inspiration: Claire Lomas attempts to complete the marathon in her 'ReWalk' suit after being left paralysed from the chest down from a horse riding accident in 2007
He said: 'I have been trying to get myself a place for years. I can't get myself a place. What do you have to do?
'What's fantastic is that my brother and his wife will be doing it next year, I think. He's going to have to now, isn't he?'
Harry made the comments during the BBC's coverage of this year's event, where he will present trophies to the winners.
But a Clarence House spokesman later confirmed the royal couple had no firm plans to enter the race, adding: 'It was said in jest.'
Harry said: 'It's my first experience on the finish line. I've tried to get out on the course and have a look around, sit outside a pub and watch people go by - the laziest way of doing it. It's a fantastic occasion. I always get to hear the atmosphere so to be here and to see it all is great.'
The Prince also spoke of his admiration for the athletes involved in the race.
Pressing ahead: Kenya's Wilson Kipsang (centre) leads the men's elite field at the start of the marathon
Impressive: Kipsang's time of 2hr 4mins 44secs was the second-fastest ever at the London marathon
He added that he was especially looking forward to witnessing the beach volleyball.
Among the professionals, Mary Keitany retained her Virgin London Marathon title, winning the women's race in a time of 2hrs 18mins and 36s.
The long-distance runner set a new personal best and a Kenyan record in the process.
The Kenyans led a clean sweep of the podium in the women's race, with Florence Kiplagat finishing second with a time of 2:19:50 and Priscah Jeptoo finishing third with 2:20:14.
Sportsmanship: Mary Keitany of Kenya (left) offers Edna Kiplagat a drink on her way to victory in the women's elite event
Claire Hallissey won the shoot-out between hopefuls for the final place on the British Olympic women's marathon team. She beat fellow Britons Freya Murray and Louise Damen as well as veteran Liz Yelling.
'It is always difficult with a marathon because you can never tell until the finish if you can keep the pace going,' she told the BBC. There was no point coming out and running a conservative race. It was all or nothing really. I knew [Murray] wasn't far off but I just kept my eyes on the line.'
Briton Shelly Woods won the women's section of the London Virgin Wheelchair Marathon, coming in at 01:49:10.
'Fantastic occasion': Harry poses with the winner of the Women's wheelchair race, Shelly Woods, who finished in just under 1hr 50mins