Lloyd Martin aims for the record books at the London Marathon

Why the London Marathon is more than a race for this mother-son duo (2:58)

Meet Lloyd Martin and his mother Ceri, who will run alongside her son with hopes of seeing him become the youngest known runner with Down Syndrome to complete the London Marathon. (2:58)

Among the record crowd of 50,000 or so running the London Marathon on Sunday will be Lloyd Martin and his mom, Ceri. Lloyd, 19, will be listening to his mega mix of everything from Gummy Bear to Black Eyed Peas to Ed Sheeran as he pounds out the miles. This will be Ceri's seventh marathon and her fifth around London's 26.2-mile course, but her first alongside her son.

Back in November, the farthest Lloyd had run was 5 kilometers. But then in late November came an email from the Special Olympics looking for athletes with intellectual disabilities to run the London Marathon.

Lloyd, who has Down syndrome, has long talked about taking on the challenge, so he and his mother applied. Their application was accepted, and after a bit of digging around through the records, the race organizers established that Lloyd could make history: On Sunday, he is bidding to become the youngest athlete with Down syndrome to complete the London Marathon.

"We come from a big running family," Ceri says. "And I think he would just like to prove that he can go that step, or lots of steps, further."

Over the years, they've both gotten tired of hearing what Lloyd wasn't going to be able to do. They want to change that narrative.

"Unfortunately, when you have a child with disabilities, a lot of people will make assumptions that they will never do this and they will never do that," Ceri says. "From day one, Lloyd's pediatrician reeled off a list of ailments that he would probably have, how he may never walk, he may never talk, he may not be able to feed himself. And, you know, you have to live with this constantly for many years until you realize, well actually, you know, he can do most things.

"I think parents who are in my situation are just fed up of that stereotype and we just want to put it out there that our children are more than capable of doing anything that any mainstream child can do. And you know, the message is coming across loud and clear with Lloyd running a marathon."

It's midafternoon, 12 days out from the marathon, and Lloyd is going through his schedule on his iPad. It's packed. He has school, he's a teaching assistant on Wednesdays, and then there are his sports commitments: gymnastics, football and parkour, all on top of his marathon prep alongside his mom.

Lloyd's stepdad Gordon pops in to say hi. The family dog, Kylo Ren -- a 9-year-old Labrador/husky cross rescue, from a group all named after Star Wars characters -- is asleep in the sunlight by their back door and Lloyd is dancing in the kitchen to "Rotten to the Core" from the 2015 film "The Descendants." There are family photos, some of his brother Finlay's rugby trophies, while Lloyd's array of medals sit on the table. His gold from the British Gymnastics Artistic Disability Championships sits central among an array of medals from different sports.

Gymnastics has long been his first love, and in October, he competed in every event at the British Gymnastics Artistic Disability Championships, winning gold on the vault and sixth overall in the competition. He is frequently on the trampoline at his house -- which doubles up as a nice warm-up for his runs -- doing all manner of flips and mid-air splits.

He also plays football for one of Ascot United's teams -- a team put together by one of his teachers for people with disabilities.

"She fought hard to get one set up over here," Ceri says. "Ascot United said yeah, we'd love to have a Special Olympics team here."

It's for over-18s, but Lloyd started when he was 17. "They've formed loads of friendships, they go to restaurants and shopping together, what any other adult would do, and it's lovely to do that," Ceri says.

Lloyd sprints upstairs, eager to show his room, vaulting off stairs as he goes.

He shows a laminated series of photos, called "Things that make me happy." There are Hot Wheels cars, the cast of the Descendants, the Hulk, Ascot United, Travel Training (an organization helping those with intellectual disabilities to become more independent) some pizza, and a photo of Tenby, Wales, where the family has a house on the coast.

And then there is his collection of "Guinness World Records" books. Next year, if all goes to plan, he'll be in the 2025 edition with a category created to acknowledge Lloyd's expected success on Sunday.

Marathon training started with incremental increases in distance, peaking at about 20 miles or so. "We're running three times a week," Ceri says. "Not overdoing it, by any stretch. Just increased it a mile a week for the last four months. And yeah, he's, he's been at every single training session, all weathers. It's been fantastic."

The toughest bit so far? The blisters. "I've been embracing them and well, it's okay, [Ceri's] popped it. That's good," Lloyd says. "I'm just embracing the feeling of the running. If there are puddles on the marathon, then you have to dodge them, as puddles and blisters do not mix. But if you do get them, that's fine, as your parents will pop them for you."

Ceri's father ran five marathons, Ceri has done six and Lloyd's cousin Ciaran Lewis is also an established long-distance runner, having represented Great Britain and Wales.

"My heroes are Usain Bolt and my cousin Ciaran," Lloyd says.

"He's so focused knowing that it's been just four months [of training]," Ceri says. "He's only got to train for four months. And then I know physically he's fit and healthy enough to do a marathon, but his concentration span was always 20 minutes. He tops and that was it, he got bored and on to the next thing. So to keep on running for six, seven, eight hours is just -- I just didn't think he'd mentally be able to do that, but he has."

Lloyd was born with a small hole in his heart. "When he got to about 12 or 13 there were signs that [the hole was] closing on its own so he didn't have to have surgery," Ceri says. "Which was naturally a huge relief. And he's been monitored since and yeah, it was fine. Before he embarked on the marathon training, we took him back to his GP to check everything was definitely okay."

Then he needed surgery in 2019, to have pins inserted into both knees. "His legs were very knock-kneed. And I feel bad that I hadn't picked up on it earlier, but I think because he's quite short, it wasn't that obvious," Ceri says. "But because he was quite late on in life, there was a question mark as to would it actually work? Had he stopped growing? But people with Down tend to have everything develop later -- he's still got some milk teeth, that sort of thing, and bones and teeth do take longer."

Eighteen months later, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the pins were removed -- the surgery a success. "It worked," Ceri says. "They continued growing and grew straight."

On Sunday, Lloyd is raising money for the nonprofits Special Olympics GB and Stepping Stones DS, two organizations that have been important to him throughout his life.

"Stepping Stones has been there from day one helping us," Ceri says. "And you know, they have just encouraged him to do, to try everything, every sporty club going. Special Olympics have really taken him through sport to the next level. Having them there to enable him to start competing is fantastic. It's been so hard to get him into mainstream clubs and they've had some great days out. He just feels part of something bigger, which is great."

It's been a little strange for the family to see Lloyd on Instagram for the London Marathon, popping up in the media and prominent in Special Olympics coverage. "I mean, he likes performing, he likes being in the limelight," Ceri says. "But yeah, we would never, ever have thought that this would've happened."

Lloyd will be wearing the number 321, the same number that two-time ESPY award winner Chris Nikic wore when he ran in the marathon last year. Nikic was the first athlete with Down syndrome to finish an Ironman triathlon in 2020, and he has run all six of the major marathons. On Friday, Nikic will pass the number to Lloyd -- the marathon equivalent of the Masters' green jacket ceremony. One day, Lloyd will pass it on to the next athlete with Down syndrome looking to run the marathon.

Along the London streets, they'll have their family and friends cheering them on. Lloyd will have his headphones on, listening to his playlist, running alongside his mom.

For Ceri, it will be an emotional occasion. "I've run a few marathons but I think I'll be far more nervous, but obviously hugely proud. It's such a fabulous event. It's a huge day. But I'll be super proud to be running next to him."

Lloyd is asked what it's like to run alongside his mom. "Good, confident, kind, humble. Like a mother-son duo," he says.

And with the interview done, Lloyd is off to the trampoline to get ready for the afternoon's 4-mile run, Ceri is putting on her running shoes and Kylo Ren is still basking in the afternoon sun.