MORE than 12,000 runners took to the streets today for the tenth Brighton Marathon – and what a spectacle it was.

Huge crowds lined the route to cheer on family and friends and complete strangers, nearly every one of them running to raise money for a worthy cause. The day is expected to raise some £6 million for scores of charities.

The day was blessed with perfect weather – bright sunshine but with a nip in the air to keep the runners cool.

Many were dressed in costumes including a Stormtrooper from Star Wars, Superman, Spiderman and even a zebra.

There was a giant furry red heart, a mum pushing her baby in a buggy and a man with a dog in a wheelchair – though the dog turned out to be a toy.

A team from Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance completed the course carrying 15k kit bags.

The runners set off from Preston Park and headed into the city then out to Ovingdean, doubling back westwards to Shoreham Power Station and back to finish on Madeira Drive, accompanied all the way by yelling crowds.

First over the finishing line was Peter Le Grice, 31, from Penzance, breaking the British course record in two hours 16 minutes and 23 seconds.

Paul Navesey, 32, from Burgess Hill, came second in two hours 18 minutes and 17 seconds and third was Ian Leitch, 43, of Brighton, in two hours 18 minutes and 34 seconds.

The first woman was Helen Davies, 39, of Ipswich, in two hours 34 minutes and eight seconds.

Ian Leitch, who works at a technology company, told The Argus: “I came fourth last year and this year was a fantastic result for me.

“There were much better quality runners and to finish third was above my expectations. After the race, I am going to go to the pub and drink lots of beer, spend time with my family and have a well-earned rest. Taking part in the tenth Brighton Marathon meant a lot to me. What I love about it is the fantastic atmosphere with so many people cheering on you along the way.

“It doesn’t matter if you are leading in the front or having a big challenge, people out there will support you.”

Emily Proto, 30, from Shoreham, finished eighth at two hours 58 minutes and 52 seconds. Emily also finished second at the Brighton Half-Marathon earlier this year.

She said: “Four years ago, but I broke my fibia during the course.

“I was quite nervous before running and my leg was in pain during but I held on because my family were supporting me.”

Also among the runners was Woody cook, son of Hove DJ Norman cook, aka Fatboy Slim, and BBC Radio 2’s breakfast host Zoe Ball.

Woody, 18, finished in four hours 27 minutes and 19 seconds.

The day started even earlier for those taking part in the inaugural BM Ride.

More than 1,100 cyclists were at Hove Lawns for the 7am start.

It was not a race, but the first cyclist across the line was Christian Faires who completed the 50k course in one hour, 16 minutes and 44 seconds.

Two course records were set at this year’s BM10k race, which included the England Athletics National Championships. Runners set off from Preston Park 45 minutes before the main event.

In the women’s race, former World Junior 1,500m champion Steph Twell took first place with a personal best and course record of 31 minutes 58 seconds.

And Nick Goolab smashed the men’s course record by more than 40 seconds with a time of 28 minutes 22 seconds to comfortably take the English title.

Pre-race favourite Chris Thompson was suffering from a cold and dropped out at around 6km.

In a curtain-raiser to yesterday’s event, almost 2,000 youngsters took part in the Cancer Research UK Kids and Teens Mini Mile Races at Preston Park on Saturday.

American Express vice president Beverly Sawyers said: “We’re proud to have backed the Brighton Marathon Weekend since the start in 2010.

“This year’s tenth anniversary event has been amazing for the Sussex community.

“It’s also been great to see many of my Amex colleagues come together to enjoy sport, support local charities and celebrate individual achievements.

“A huge thank you to the cyclists, runners, volunteers and all the spectators who have helped mark this milestone occasion.”