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A team of eight Metropolitan mounted police officers will be tackling the London Marathon dressed as horses and riders.

The group of colleagues will be taking on the 26.2-mile challenge next month in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital and Sparks, the children’s medical research charity.

Inspired by Inspector Natalie Shaw’s two children, Harry, eight, and Oli, 11, who suffer from a rare form of cerebral palsy, worster-draught syndrome, the group will is aiming to raise £16,000 for the two charities.

The team, four of whom performed in the police display ride at Olympia, have been fitting in training alongside their demanding day jobs and have already tackled 18 miles in a single run.

To add to the tough challenge, the male officers will dress as horses and the female officers as riders, as they run around the capital on 22 April.

“It’s a massive challenge and training has been quite demanding and time-consuming,” said PC Nici Foley.

“Natalie plays a lot of tennis so is quite fit, but the rest of us are run-of-the-mill horse riders and most of us are over 40.

“Were absolutely shattered and I’m really hungry all the time — on our long runs we’re burning 2-3,000 calories.”

Nici said the group plans to run the marathon as a team and they have been tackling long runs together at the weekends in preparation.

They have also been practising in their race day outfits.

“The horse suits are quite chunky and warm,” said Nici. “The ladies will look like mounted police officers, I don’t think we’ll wear our riding helmets, but baseball caps with chequered bands to look the part.”

Nici added that the team is used to taking on new challenges due to the nature of the day job.

“We go from escorting The Queen’s carriages to policing the streets — it’s so diverse and that’s what I love about it,” she said.

The group is raffling a horsey prize donated by Saracen Horse Feeds, which includes a showjumping lesson with Philip Spivey and a nutritional assessment for the winner’s horse along with two months’ worth of Saracen horse feed.

To buy tickets email nicifoley@googlemail.com. Tickets are £3 each or £15 for five.

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The officers are also planning a fundraising performance at Eastminster Riding School in Romford during Easter with a raffle including prizes from Pegasus Jewellery and have a Virgin Money page where donations can be made www.virginmoneygiving.com/team/Natalieshaw6

The group also has a text to donate number which is MPLM53 £[insert donation here] to 70070.

The team of runners are Natalie Shaw, Melissa Dearsley, Nici and James Foley, Richard Bushell, Lynne Copeland, Anna Simpson and Claudia Gittens.

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