WHETHER you put it down to pure madness or just a severe case of the post Christmas over-indulgence guilt factor, three members of the News Shopper editorial team have taken up the challenge of running the London Marathon.

Website manager Paul Lagan, a veteran of the marathon with eight races under his belt is limbering up slowly, while reporters Emma Coutts-Wood and Lucy Brinicombe are just terrified they may not complete their first, and very possibly last, 26-miler.

Emma said: "I'm a plodder rather than a runner, but I'm sure I'll do it at a steady pace."

Lucy, who trains with Emma four times a week, said: "It's something I have always wanted to do and what's really great is we will be helping charities close to our hearts."

The trio will be raising money for local charities the Demelza House Children's Hospice, Lewisham Hospital's Lewi Appeal, which raises funds to help cancer patients, and Gravesend's homeless centre, the House of Mercy.

They are also running for the NSPCC, the Alzheimers Society and AIDS/HIV charity The Terrence Higgins Trust.

If you would like to support them, please send a cheque made payable to one of the above charities and send it to News Shopper, Mega House, Crest View Drive, Petts Wood, BR5 1BT.

Did you know...

Since the first London Marathon in 1981, 475,453 runners have completed it.

Last year's Flora London Marathon was the largest mass participation event in the UK, with 31,766 crossing the finishing line.

Runners will be able to relieve themselves in one of the 950 toilets on the way.

Supporters can refuel at one of the 76 pubs located along the 26.2 mile course.

68 ambulances, 39 first aid stations and 1,200 St John's Ambulance volunteers will be on hand.

More than 710,000 bottles of water will be distributed at the start of the course.