For London's charity marathoners, getting there is all the fun

He's running the London marathon for a good cause, and on Sunday, Lloyd Scott will be quite literally a knight in shining armor.

Instead of shorts and a T-shirt, the 44-year-old leukemia survivor intends to run the course in a 100-pound (45-kilogram) suit of armor. He anticipates it will take him seven days to complete, with rests at night.

On top of it all, he will be lugging a 200-pound (90-kilogram) dragon behind him during the 26.2-mile (42-kilometer) trek.

Scott already holds the record for the slowest marathon, which he set in 2002. That year, dressed as a deep-sea diver, it took him five days to finish. He believes his knight costume, donned in honor of St. George's Day, will make the run even more lengthy.

"It's far more difficult than when I did it in a diving suit, because it's about three times heavier," Scott said. "Crossing roads, getting up sidewalks, curves, pavements, I've got all that to contend with."

Nearly 35,000 people from some 50 nations will be competing at the marathon Sunday, organizers said. With 78 percent of runners receiving a spot through a charity, the London Marathon is also celebrated as an enormous fundraiser for various organizations.

Some intend to run barefoot. A squadron of 20 runners are to run dressed as a giant millipede. There is even a couple who plans to get married at the halfway point during a brief ceremony on Tower Bridge.

Scott, meanwhile, is supporting marathon participant and five-time Olympic rowing champion Steve Redgrave's bid to break the world record of 1.25 million pounds (US$2.2 million; Ђ1.8 million) for individual fundraising. By the weekend, the duo had raised about 900,000 pounds (US$1.6 million; Ђ1.3 million).

Last year, the race raised about three million pounds (US$5.3 million) for charity organizations and since its inception in 1981, has drawn in more than 19 million pounds ($33.8 million).

Known for attracting elite athletes, first-time marathoners and enormous crowds of spectators, the London Marathon is touted for its flat, fast course _ except for some cobblestones _ that winds its way largely through the southern portion of the city. The finish line is on The Mall, by Buckingham Palace.

"It's a split marathon. Either you come to watch the elite runners or come for fun on the day to support people," marathon spokeswoman Jemma Holliday said.

Katie Austin, 25, and Gordon Fryer, 34, are trying to replicate a traditional wedding ceremony, down to their dress.

"They wanted to do a really outrageous, unusual wedding," said Jo Pratt, spokeswoman for the couple's charity organization Help the Hospice.

Austin will run the full course dressed in a full-length ivory silk gown while the groom will wear a suit with shorts replacing trousers.

But the race is also one of the world's major marathoning events. The field includes Olympic champion Stefano Baldini, two-time world champion Jaouad Gharib of Morocco, four-time Chicago Marathon champion Khalid Khannouchi of the United States, and defending champion Martin Lel, reports AP.

O.Ch.