We've been following the story of Andrew Smith and Thomas Bolton - aka the giant cactus and Tardis respectively - as they built up to the London Marathon in two of the most striking fancy dress outfits on show.
But there's still the small matter of 26.2 miles to negotiate and this is how they both fared in the race itself...
So the big day arrived - how did everything pan out?
Thomas Bolton (@Marathon_Tardis on Twitter): The whole day was fantastic. Working as a Police officer, I only really get to see a lot of negativity when I'm in London due to the nature of the job so for me to do the VLM where everybody is happy and supportive and it seems to run without a hitch is just a fantastic refreshing experience and not only shows London and Londoners at their best but is also one of those things that makes Britain great.
The experience was increased by taking part in a Guinness World Record attempt which gave me an insight into the whole operation of the event. They gave me a fantastic opportunity to take part in the press conference and I was blown away by the interest that the costume received.
It was the front page of the BBC Sport Twitter article and got number one costume in the Radio Times and Mirror online articles. As to the record attempt itself, I was aiming for five-and-a-half hours so to do it under five was pleasing but Guinness World Record had placed me in a Phone Box category so despite beating @SidKeyte's old record by over an hour I was still beaten on the day by another telephone box by 20 minutes!
Andrew Smith: As soon as I had the idea of running as a cactus, I wondered if there was a Guinness World Record for running as a plant. They were very helpful, and sent me some costume guidelines, along with a 4h30 limit.
My PB for a marathon without costume is 3:20, so this was always achievable, although I was recovering from tibial stress fractures at the time so my training was unfortunately more resting than running.
I also heard rumours that someone else was going to be running as a tree, so I had to take this into consideration during the race. Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research and their supporters gave me lots of encouragement around the course, and all I could hear from the crowd was ‘Go Cactus!’ for the whole 26.2 miles. Just after halfway I saw a runner dressed as a tree, and sprinted past them, trying to look as relaxed and as fresh as I could, until they were out of sight. It all went better than I could have planned - I managed a negative split and was awarded the Guinness World Record after crossing the line in 3:47. I even avoided any injuries, allowing me to run a 100 mile race the following weekend.
Hydration is vital for any marathon runner but all the more so in a bulky costume - how did you cope?
AS: For the fluids it really depends on the costume. If it's going to make you sweat considerably more, then I would say definitely take on more electrolytes during the race. If you have designed it with plenty of ventilation and it doesn't significantly affect your pace, then there's little need to alter your hydration plans. Make sure your costume allows you to grab and take fluids from the aid stations, otherwise you might need to consider wearing your own hydration pack for the race.
TB: I was pretty confident that I'd accounted for everything the marathon could throw at me and I'd created a space to tie my gels and jelly beans to. However the first obstacle that I hadn't prepared for were the speed bumps which were pretty much straight after the start. They threw the whole costume about but luckily everything just about stayed in place.
What advice would you give to others looking to emulate you?
AS: You definitely do not have to be super-fit to run in costume. A costume gives you a good excuse to be slow, but if you can design it well, it doesn’t need to have a huge impact on your speed.
Begin the costume design early as it always takes much longer than you expect. You really do need to test it out beforehand. And the extra support from the crowds will give you a huge boost so make the costume stand out.
You also need to pick the correct pacing strategy from the start, ideally based on information gained from a shorter practice race wearing the costume.
On race day, you might be placed nearer the back of the pack due to your bulky costume and for the first few miles it's good to hold back whilst the crowd thins. Overtaking wearing a costume can be challenging, and you don't want to waste valuable energy weaving through the crowds at the beginning. There's nothing better than using this saved energy in the second half of a marathon to sprint past your fellow runners wearing a giant cactus!
TB: I'd say if you’re going to do it in a costume then the London Marathon is the place to do it. The crowds are fantastic and they seem to really appreciate and cheer you on when in fancy dress and in a strange way it's nice to give something back to them. The crowd really give you the mental lift that you need when the going gets tough.
Make sure you put the practice in and train for different scenarios - such as warm weather - and you will be fine.
Looking ahead I've got everything crossed that the ballot or work ballot will get me in for 2016. What I'd like to do instead of asking for money is to encourage people to donate blood as I think it would be something different to raise awareness for and also means so much to my family as my wife nearly died during labour in 2011 - without the blood donations she wouldn't be here today.
I'm thinking of throwing several costume ideas out to social media to decide on next year but there is that niggling part of me that wants to get the record in the Tardis - it was also so well received that I think it would be hard to beat as it really appealed to families and kids as I ran round. I may use it again and just enjoy the day more and try and interact with the crowd instead of just concentrating on not collapsing!
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