JAMES LUFF didn't know whether to laugh or cry as he coped with mental and physical challenges to complete the virtual London Marathon on Sunday.

The Dunfermline dad was chuckling away listening to a comedy podcast while his mind and body were screaming at him to give up on the gruelling 26 miles.

James, 41, of Linburn Road, said: "It was brutal but I'm glad I got it done.

"There were times when I just felt like curling up. It was more of a mental challenge to keep going.

"When you look at your watch and there are four miles to go and your legs are gone, it's just agony. My lower back was really painful too."

James ran to Alloa and back along the cycle track, pounding a few extra pavements and lanes to make up the 26 miles and 385 yards, in just over five hours.

He continued: "Running on your own is difficult and I didn't see anyone for an hour. Keeping yourself motivated is tough.

"I like to hear someone talking, it takes your mind away from it. I used to listen to music but it was difficult if it was a slow song and I was trying to go a bit faster!

"Chris Ramsey and his wife have a podcast so I didn't listen for a few weeks and had them stored up, so you're laughing to yourself as you go.

"I did get a few strange looks!"

It was all pain and all gain as his company, the Phoenix Group in Edinburgh, matched his fundraising efforts with almost £4,000 going to Bowel Cancer UK.

James had planned to run the London Marathon for the charity in memory of his dad, retired policeman Andrew, who used to patrol the capital's streets and died in 2014 from the disease.

He had been well prepared for the April event, clocking up miles with parkruns, commando park training in the Glen and half marathons but the pandemic, lockdown and a family bereavement meant he was playing catch-up when the charity asked him, six weeks ago, to take part in the virtual run.

"I crammed in as much training as I could but I struggled with the mileage," he admitted.

"I'm glad I did it though and I'll get the medal sent to me. It's the 40th anniversary one so it's a bit special and I'll give it to Jacob.

"He and my wife, Rachael, waited at home for me. Jacob's in P1 at Touch Primary now and he's really good at writing so they designed a poster with 'Well done Daddy' on it, which was lovely.

"Overall, it was 45,000 steps and 3,500 calories so I had a few beers and a Chinese takeaway. And a big breakfast the next morning!"

The total was helped by local businesses, with Rachael having the idea of a raffle with 26 prizes, one for every mile – it was drawn in March before the London run was postponed.

Such was the generosity of small firms in Dunfermline, they ended up with 30 prizes.

He said: "The support we got was incredible and I can't thank them enough. Bowel cancer affects so many people, my neighbour is currently in remission just now, so I know this money is going to help lots of people."