Nell McAndrew aiming for landmark time in Virgin London Marathon

Nell McAndrewSuper-fit celebrity and charity fundraiser Nell McAndrew will join tens of thousands of runners for her sixth outing over 26.2 miles when she lines up at Sunday’s Virgin London Marathon (22 April), reports the Run England website.

This year she’ll join the elite athletes on the Championship (Blue) start and hopes to break the impressive landmark barrier of three hours.

In a podcast with Run England she said: "I'm really proud this year especially because I've earned my place on the championship start, so I'm not going to be plodding around thinking it doesn't matter, I really want to push myself and challenge myself to get that 2:59."

And it's not an unjustified target.

McAndrew, who says she still just runs for fun, has come a long way since she first started running and in last year's Virgin London Marathon she reduced her personal best to 3:08:25.

In 2012 though, she is in the shape of her life and knocked chunks off her half marathon time to record 81:51 at the recent Bath Half Marathon before becoming the first female home in the National Lottery Olympic Park Run over 5 miles with an impressive time of 29:21.

"I was so pleased with the Bath Half Marathon, really loved it, the whole day,” she said. “It was a lovely sunny day and the drive out there was lovely and it was really well organised.”

But despite showing huge improvement year on year, the down-to-earth star still admits to feeling the nerves just as much as when she toed the line for the very first time.

"The hard bit's done hopefully and I've just got to try and enjoy the day, but I'm so nervous and I know loads of other people feel the same way especially people who are doing their first marathon,” she admitted.

"I met quite a few people at the marathon expo yesterday when I went to pick up my number and for the people who are doing their first one it's just an unknown for them and they just don't know what to expect and they're really nervous. But everybody is on the day and it's good to have nerves I suppose!"

Having a go at an event every month or so to get used to the experience, as well as an early night and a massage in the last couple of days and a big treat after the marathon is finished was her advice for first time marathon runners.

Nell McAndrew is leading the Cancer Research UK team at this year’s Virgin London Marathon. As the charity’s running ambassador, she hope to raise as much as possible to help fund its vital work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. You can sponsor her at her official website

Earlier this year, she completed an England Athletics Leadership in Running Fitness course, the same qualification that Run England group leaders have, with a view to setting up a Run England group.

In the Run England podcast, she talks about her experiences, her nerves, what motivates her, what she will treat herself to after the race, and she also gives some great advice to recreational runners everywhere - whether you’re running your first marathon on Sunday or not.

From everyone at Run England and runbritain, we wish everyone taking part on Sunday a big good luck!

Homepage photo courtesy of Sam Farr, photo above right courtesy of Matt Cardy and Anna Barclay.