PREPARATIONS are already underway for the 2015 Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon after 7,000 amateur and professional runners took on the challenge this year. 

The race began on time at the University of York, despite thick fog, with TV presenter and former England rugby international Matt Dawson cheering on runners crossing the line.

"Last year you raised £2million for charity, let's hope it's going to be a little bit more this year."

Almost 10 minutes after the starting horn was blown, the long column of runners was still crossing the start line.

The first over the finish line was Leeds wheelchair racer to Bret Crossley with a time of two hours, 11 minutes and 10 seconds.

The fastest runner was Kenyan Boniface Kongin who completed it in two hours, 14 minutes to take victory in his first ever marathon, with second place going to and Cosmas Kigen coming in third with a time of two hours, 16 minutes.

Twenty-four year old set off the race as the pace-setter, never expecting to come in as winner, but said he was running so well and felt so good at the 20 mile mark that he kept running to finish a full two minutes ahead of his nearest rival.

He added: "I has some energy left so I kept going. The weather was horrible, but the support was great so I am very happy."

But the women's race had a local winner in Shona Fletcher, from Northallerton, who came in first with a time of 2:43:40, beating the Ethiopian Bayrush Shiferaw into second place by more than two minutes.

Shona said the race time was a lifetime best for her.

"Everytime I do a race I think that's the last one, but after this I'm going to have to go on to do London again next year," she added.

York runners Chris Poulton, Richard Ginn, and Darran Bilton were among the first hometown athletes back, all crossing the finish line within three hours.

Darran said: "The route passes my house at about mile four, and last year I cheered people on with a megaphone from my home and decided I had to take part this year.

"The support has been fantastic. I know there were some questions over whether there would be enough, but everybody in all the houses and all the villages and hamlets along the way have come out and put on their own carnival atmosphere.

"It felt like I knew everyone and you're not going to get that anywhere else."

Also taking part was Educating Yorkshire teacher Matthew Burton, running to support the Miscarriage Association and Forget Me Not Children's Hospice. After the race, he tweeted: "First ever marathon completed in 4:36. Legs and soul scheduled to recover by mid December. NEVER AGAIN. Probably."

York Masterchef star Sara Danean Medio completed the race, as did Look North presenters Harry Gration and Amy Garcia, running as part of a relay team raising money for the Jane Tomlinson appeal.

Harry, who ran the full 26 miles last year, said: "I feel as tired after three miles this year as I did after 26 last year. I don't know how I did it.

"I'm thinking about doing it all again next year so I can run past the Minster - that's the best part."

Fancy dress runners also took to the route, including Mike Wells who ran it in 3 hours 17 dressed as an angel.

"I was the first fancy dress runner last year, so I came back this year to defend my title."

Running to raise awareness of bowel cancer, in honour of his father who has survived the disease, Mike said taking up marathon running had transformed his life.

"Five years ago I weighted 15 1/2 stone and had never run a mile.

"I thought the Yorkshire Marathon was good last year, but this year was even better."

The 26 mile route took in the city centre and country roads to the East of York.

For the top 100 male and female runners, see here

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