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Jimmy Dale and baby marathon family handout PA.jpg
Church News

Baby set to be youngest to complete London marathon, pushed along by Christian Dad

by Press Association

A baby girl who was born on the original date for the 40th London Marathon will complete the 26.2 miles on Sunday with her father pushing her in a buggy.

Jimmy Dale, the Church of England's National Youth Evangelism officer, was due to run this year's marathon but deferred his place when his wife Sarah realised their baby was due on 25th April, one day before the event.

Elsie arrived at 5.45am on 26th April and friends joked that Mr Dale would have still had time to make it to the start line if the race had been going ahead as planned.

Weeks earlier the marathon had been postponed until 4th October due to the coronavirus pandemic and in August it was announced that the central London mass event would be replaced by a virtual run with participants choosing their own routes.

Mr Dale, who plans to give the money he's raised to Newham Youth for Christ branch, plans to run from his home in Woodford, east London, to Victoria Park, pushing Elsie in a running buggy in laps for the remainder of the 26.2 miles "so the marathon she would have shared her birthday with she will get to participate in."

He said he assumes baby Elsie, who he describes as "an absolute bundle of joy", will be the youngest person ever to complete a London Marathon if she joins him for the full distance.

Mrs Dale, a social worker, will support them at Victoria Park, providing feeds, nappy changes and buggy breaks for Elsie although the five-month-old may sleep for much of the run.

Mr Dale hopes she will be happy to share the entire journey with him, telling the PA news agency: "Part of the reason that it's so special is that she will have done the marathon as well as me.

"If she has only done 24 miles it wouldn't have the same significance."

The 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon will be Mr Dale's 22nd marathon and his second in London but he is not worried about how long it takes him.

There are 45,000 people taking part in Sunday's virtual run.

"The idea of going out to run 26 miles on your own is quite bleak.

"The take-up was enormous, that's so telling about how much people want to do the London Marathon."

As well as being able to take part in the virtual race, runners who had a place for 2020 have been able to defer so they can run in either 2021, 2022 or 2023.

Mr Dale, a member of East London Runners, has deferred until April 2022 and hopes, by then, the mass event will be able to return to central London with the atmosphere and crowds that brings.

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