|Six days after the London Marathon, one lone 'runner' - clad in a deep sea diving suit - has finally finished the course.
BBC News Online caught up with Lloyd Scott just hours before his journey's end. Lloyd Scott tottered step-by-step along the fine line dividing the truest of true grit and plain, old-fashioned, British insanity. The last day of his battle to complete the London Marathon in a full deep sea diving suit took Lloyd between the banks and finance houses of the City of London. Knots of pin-striped City boys lined the route with ripples of applause and cacophonies of car horns echoing between the buildings. Journalists and camera crews - from as far afield as Germany - buzzed around Lloyd like flies, as he edged ever closer to the finish near St James's Palace. As a leukemia survivor, he is a mixture of fundraiser and inspiration, a serial marathon runner who thought he would take his charity work for Cancer and Leukaemia in Children (Clic) to the edge. His six-day journey around the 26-mile course has been a test of his physical endurance and mental stamina.
Resting at least every 400 yards, when the helmet is removed, well-wishers converged to congratulate him. But they had to be careful, as a slap on the back while he is still standing might have been enough to topple him. Two soldiers accompanied him to provide occasional support and stop him falling. Lloyd explained: "I've got very limited vision - I can't see the kerb, pavements or any cracks. "If I did trip I couldn't move my feet to correct myself." The effort took its toll and Lloyd's thousand-yard stare resembled something from a Vietnam war photo. During a rest break, sweat pouring down his face, he admitted: "I'm glad it's the last day. "The aches and pains are getting worse, the suit is getting heavier, the days are getting longer... and I'm sure somebody is stretching the mile markers out."
The heaviness of the helmet and the weights on his upper body were responsible for much of the damage. "If it isn't the shoulders, it is the back, if it isn't the back it is the hips. "I was due to play cricket on Saturday, I may not be able to make it." There have been numerous acts of kindness and tokens of admiration along the way. Women used the charity website to ask Lloyd out, he has been served champagne by staff at one hotel, and nearly hit by a shower of coins from building workers on high. Karen Sugarman, a Clic fundraiser, described Lloyd as "man, superman, hero". "People have been so generous, even the police have been giving tenners. "Lloyd already is an inspiration and he will be to many of our sufferers throughout the UK."
Cold, Heavy, Wet
But the concentration required to stay balanced and moving in the suit meant Lloyd's mind could not wander, even as far as to what he might do once finished. "During the time I'm walking I have to concentrate a great deal. "The best thing will be not having to put it back on again - a cold, heavy, wet deep sea divers suit. I won't miss that. "When I've had bad moments I think of the money I'm raising for Clic who provide a fantastic service for children and families." And he is considering wearing the diving suit in a more suitable environment, after fulfilling his early inspiration. "I would quite like to carry out what they were actually built for. "I've always taken things to extremes. I've done a few London marathons and I thought 'what's the worst thing anyone could do to try and complete the course'."
Paul Simons, a BT faults investigation officer, thinks Lloyd has demonstrated a very British sense of determination. "He's an excellent example to us all - absolute dedication to a cause, it's what we all need. "It is a wonderfully unique part of British character that we can even think about this kind of venture, and somebody has got the guts." Even the crew from European MTV-style youth programme Viva Plus, who followed Lloyd, agreed there is nothing like him in their native Germany. And hard-headed investment bankers could not tame their curiosity and admiration, with offices emptying as Lloyd passes.
Investment banker Nick Uzel was one of those applauding the dogged diver. "We all have a heart and it is a good thing he is doing. "Even the City likes to enter into the spirit of things." But Lloyd and his supporters are still waiting for a killer idea for next year's marathon. The marathon man confided: "We have been discussing it, but I just wanted to make sure I will be finished in time for next year."
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