He was one of thousands of runners to take to the streets for this year’s race, completing the course in a respectable three hours and 48 minutes – and beating quadruple Olympic gold medallist winner Matthew Pinsent in the process.
Neil, a former editor of the Newcastle Evening Chronicle and Coventry Evening Telegraph, has previously run three marathons, but this was his first big race in 17 years so he was happy with his time.
He said: “It was murder – a lot harder than last time. But the crowds were unbelieveable and gave me a real lift during the last few miles.
“I was two minutes behind Gordon Ramsey and I beat Bob the Builder!”
However after raising £3,750 for Childline he says this was definitely his last 26.2 mile run.
The 51-year-old said: “Absolutely never again. Even if I want to my wife wouldn’t let me as the training eats up so much time.”
Also taking part in the race was South London Press sub-editor Paul Lagan, who had planned to run with a colleague, reporter Paul Rhys, in aid of Kings College Hospital’s Silver Lining Appeal.
But reporter Paul was injured shortly after he announced to readers that he was planning to take part, and so the sub-editor went alone.
The race was his 13th, and he raised more than £1,000 for charity, but he says the seven hour and 40 minute feat was not enjoyable.
He said: “It was horrible – long and desolate and I’d never do it again!”
There were some plus points though – as Paul, (47), received encouragement from readers who called and texted him on his mobile during the race after the number was printed in the paper.
He also found time to stop for sweets and chips along the way.
He said: “It was lovely to hear from readers, they kept me going.”
Beating Paul to the finish line was Mark Casci from the Telegraph & Argus who clocked up a time of five-and-a-half hours.
The former smoker, (25), ran in support of the stop smoking charity Quit, and collected £1,200 in sponsorship.
He said: “My target was five hours but I injured my knee and had to hobble from the 20 mile mark.
“The crowds were astonishing all along the 26 miles and were handing out jelly babies and water. They were a great advert for the city and I can see why the event is so popular.” Do you have a story about the regional press? Ring 0116 227 3122/3121, or e-mail email@example.com