VIDEO AND PICTURES: Hundreds turn out for Petts Wood 'Running Man' tribute run

News Shopper: Hundreds of runners took part in yesterday's 'Spirit of Running Man' run Hundreds of runners took part in yesterday's 'Spirit of Running Man' run

Hundreds of people took part in a Petts Wood 'Running Man' tribute run yesterday, in memory of the local celebrity who inspired so many.

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James Gilson (above), famed for his topless runs through Petts Wood, died in April at what is thought to be the age of 87.

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His death triggered hundreds of online tributes, while hundreds lined the streets as his hearse travelled through Petts Wood on the day of his funeral.

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The 6.5k event, entitled 'The Spirit of Running Man', started at 10am in Lakeswood Road, Petts Wood, near St James the Great Roman Catholic Church.

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David Manclark with his daughters Lacie, 8, and Elle-Louise, 9

Taking in some of the route Mr Gilson used to run, it finished outside the Royal British Legion in Queensway, Petts Wood.

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A little memento of the run could be purchased for £5, while a raffle - with prizes contributed by local people and businesses - took place after the run.

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Fred the dog is pleased with his medal

The money raised is thought to be in the region of £2,000, and will be split between two charities, St John Ambulance and Cancer Research UK.

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One-year-old Baby Ava congratulating mum Carla Smith 

Donna Carroll, 53, who organised the event and set up the Facebook group 'Fans of the Running Man' said: "The event was a huge success, better than I thought it was going to be.

"James' daughters and grandchildren turned up and they thought it was brilliant. They told me he could never really believe how many people were interested in his running, so he would have been totally overwhelmed by this."

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On the 'Fans of the Running Man' Facebook page, Mike Delaney said: "Well done to everyone taking part today and to Donna and the organisers, you did a fantastic thing putting this together! What a great feeling for James' family today."

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Ashley Smith and Michael Bennett enjoy a refreshing pint after their run 

Suzi Skinner added: "Amazing morning. Let's hope this is the first of many. Well done to all that organised it. I think he was looking down with a very big smile."

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