Runners from south west ran themselves to exhaustion to raise cash for charities and worthy causes as part of the London Marathon yesterday.

A former Royal Air Force service woman, Suzanne Ashwood, from Garson completed the 26.2 mile course in seven hours and 12 minutes.

The Kingswood Road resident described the race as "mind-blowing" as she completed the course to raise money for a hospice charity.

The 31-year-old college lecturer said: "The marathon was mind-blowing, it wasn’t just about the run but about everything else - the support of the people and just the general atmosphere. It was quite humbling in places."

Watford Observer: Suzanne Ashwood

Ms Ashwood ran to raise funds for Help the Hospices.

Months of relentless training were put to the test for Radlett cashier, Caroline Skyrme, who took on her first London Marathon yesterday.

The 46-year-old, who works at the Harpenden Building Society’s Radlett branch, in Watling Street, ran for the Willow Foundation, a charity that provides special days out for seriously ill 16 to 40-year-olds.

Ms Skyrme, who is aiming to raise £4,000 for charity, said the sweltering heat was a shock to the system after months of training in freezing-cold temperatures.

She said: “I was running slower than I had planned to because it was so hot. There were showers all along the route, with firemen stood outside hosing people down.”

Ms Skyrme, of Colnbrook Close, London Colney, who was originally hoping to finish the course in under four and a half hours, completed it in five hours and 16 minutes.

Watford Observer: Caroline Skyrme

Garston nursery assistant Holly Worthington finished in five hours and 48 minutes, and raised almost £2,000 for CLIC Sargent, a charity for children and young people with cancer.

The 20-year-old, from Horseshoe Lane, was chosen to carry the Olympic Torch last summer, after being nominated for her inspiring charity work.

She regularly volunteers at the Monday Club, a charity for adults with disabilities in Abbots Langley, and has already completed a fundraising skydive and a charity cycle ride.

Ms Worthington said: “I like challenging myself and trying to do different challenges for different charities, and I’ve always wanted to do the London Marathon.

“It was my first marathon so I didn’t know what to expect, but I didn’t hit the wall.”

Watford Observer: Holly Worthington

South Oxhey couple Sarah Whelan and James Rowe ran in aid of Bliss, a charity that provides care for sick and premature babies and their families.

The couple, from Ashburnham Drive, decided to run the London Marathon to give something back after their daughter Sophie Rowe was born 10 weeks premature and received support from Bliss at Watford General Hospital.

Watford Observer:

Sarah Whelan and James Rowe with daughter Sophie Rowe and son Jack.

Ms Whelan, a 28-year-old cabin crew member for Virgin Atlantic, said: “It went really well, we both finished, but we’re both in agony now.

She and Mr Rowe crossed the finishing line together, in six hours and 29 minutes, and have so far raised £6,000.

Theo Gelernter, 18, from Cullera Close, Northwood, was another runner giving something back. He raised almost £15,000 for Great Ormond Street Hosptial, where he was treated for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma as a child.

He said: “It’s unimaginably painful. I’m sure I’ll look back and think it was worth it though.”

Mr Gelernter, the head boy at John Lyon School in Harrow, ran to mark the tenth anniversary of his release from Great Ormond Street, at the age of eight.

His mum, Linda, ran the London Marathon the year of his release, but this was the first year the teenager was old enough to enter.

On top of Mr Gelernter’s fundraising, his school has raised nearly £20,000 for the hospital.

Personal trainer Alison Smith, 44, ran to raise money for Arthritis Care, a charity that has supported her 78-year-old father Lionel Smith.

Watford Observer: Alison Smith

She said: “I’m still alive, I survived it. It wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I thought.”

Ms Smith, of Nightingale Road, Rickmansworth, completed the 26.2 miles in just four hours and 15 minutes.

She added: “It was easy going to about 16 miles, but I talked myself through the last 50 minutes.”

She’s so far raised £2,300 but said the total is still going up, and she’s already planning her next challenge.

Adam Diplock, a student from Little Hill, Heronsgate, completed the marathon in six hours and one minute, raising £1,100 for the charity Children with Cancer.

He said: “I was a bit annoyed – I wanted to knock off that last minute, but it was 56 minutes quicker than my last marathon so I was pleased with that.”

Mr Diplock, who studies War, Terror and Democracy at the University of Brighton, previously ran the Beachy Head Marathon in 2011.

He said: “I’m definitely going to do London again next year. It’s only when you run it yourself and you hear the crowds – they really do help you round.”