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London Marathon live: Emile Cairess dedicates third place finish to cousin after coma ordeal; winner of women’s race breaks world record



By Sadiya Chowdhury, correspondent

Tilly Gerra is running her first London Marathon and she’s in good hands – her guide runner is on his 15th overall marathon and his ninth in London.

The pair teamed up last year when Tilly, who is completely blind, was looking for someone to run with.

“I was born with a condition which means that my eyes are a lot smaller than normal. They didn’t develop properly, so I have no sight at all,” Tilly told Sky News.

The 19-year-old said her condition had never stopped her before, and described her family’s reaction to her decision to run the London Marathon.

For me, it’s just normal. My parents treated me the same as everyone else. My dad showed me how to ride a bike because he thought I want to treat her like all my other children, and they never stopped me from doing anything,” she says.

“They’ve all been really supportive and really encouraging. I think my mum’s probably more stressed than I am about me running the marathon, but she’s been a really big help, making sure I’m prepared for my running.”

Tilly’s guide runner is Peter Rodwell, who had just completed a course in guide-running when he was approached by Tilly last summer.

“Guide running means helping Tilly navigate the obstacles of the course. I have to tell her where the trees are, where we’re turning left and right, when we’re going uphill, downhill, onto level ground. She tends to listen to a podcast or music instead of me. But touchwood, we’ve never had a tumble,” he says.

Peter explains that he runs side-by-side with Tilly and then lets her cross the finish line first.

He says: “We did a 5k race and we were coming up to the finish line, and I actually went across the line in front of her, and there was a fellow from English Athletics there, and he came up to me and he said, ‘excuse me guide. Next time you race, can your runner cross the line first and not you’. So I’ve got to hold on.”

Tilly and Peter set a target to finish today’s London Marathon in just under six hours.

“I’ve only been running for five months,” Tilly says. 

“I think I’m just happy to finish on such an amazing course as London that’s really rich in its history.”

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