Quiz champion CJ de Mooi showed he had brawn to match his brains, placing first in the BBC’s battle of the celebrity runners in this year’s London Marathon.
The actor, professional quizzer and star of BBC2 game show Eggheads completed the run in a highly respectable time of 3 hours 16 minutes, raising money for first aid charity Millie’s Trust and finishing 11 minutes ahead of nearest rival Emmerdale star Tony Audenshaw.
De Mooi said he had suffered during the race but that the exuberant crowd, enjoying the sunny Sunday in the capital, had kept him going.
“Doing a full marathon is not twice as agonising as doing a half marathon, it’s four times as agonising,” de Mooi told presenter Jonathan Edwards. “I hit the wall about 16, 17 miles and the crowd just lifted me and kept me going… the spectators just made this race, so thank you all, thank you London.”
In third place in the BBC’s chosen celebrity field was former England and Liverpool footballer Michael Owen, who managed a sub-four-hour time despite being known more as a sprinter than a long-distance runner. He echoed de Mooi’s sentiments, suggesting that the marathon had been the most painful challenge he had ever undertaken but also praising the spectators who had lined the 26-mile course shouting encouragement.
“Everyone told me it was hard but that is the hardest thing ever,” said Owen. “I thought I was gonna die after 14 [miles], how I did another 12 and a bit, oh my word. It was the worst experience of my life. But the best as well. It was unbelievable. The support was great… I’ve had a life in football where it’s not like that… every single person was so nice, so polite, you just want to give everyone a hug.”
Former Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton – known for her charity endurance endeavours – was also among the famous faces taking part, along with Game of Thrones star Natalie Dormer and former Made in Chelseaite Hugo Taylor. Meanwhile, Britain’s double Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah made his marathon debut, finishing in eighth place with a time of 2 hours 8 minutes, missing out on a British record but managing to set the fastest time ever run by an Englishman.