Calum’s (Virtual) London Marathon
The ‘Virtual London Marathon 2020’ was reinvented this year with a Covid-friendly format, allowing runners from across the UK (and the rest of the world) take part in their own towns and at their own pace, ensuring people could maintain social distancing. The rules were to complete the length of the London Marathon (26.2 miles) within a 24-hour period – giving people the opportunity to walk, jog or run the route in their own time.
Every year, around 400,000 ballot applications are made to take part in the London Marathon, with in the region of 55,000 generally accepted – so statistically it’s difficult to get a spot on the starting line. Although an experienced amateur runner with three previous Dublin Marathons under his belt, Calum had not registered for the London Marathon 2020, which was originally scheduled for April. With Covid-19 putting the brakes on this date, he was delighted when he spotted the opportunity at the end of August to sign up for the ‘Virtual’ version, joining around 45,000 others.
Across the summer, Calum had enjoyed running most days, having found the spare time due to a period on furlough. Once signed up, he picked up his training pace, and gradually felt comfortable and confident with the increased distances.
Waking before the sun at 5am may not sound like the most energising start to the day, but after a light breakfast and an all-important dose of caffeine, Calum mentally prepared himself for the run ahead.
Typical of the London Marathon, you’ll be presented with one weather extreme or another: Sunday 4th October was dark, cold, wet, windy, and generally miserable. Not one to be deterred, Calum started his (sodden) run at 6.25am, taking a route from his home in Greenwich, east along the Thames path then turning back on himself and heading the last few miles up to Deptford, before then returning back to base.
Talking of the experience, Calum said;
“When I got to about the halfway mark, I started to meet quite a few other runners wearing their race numbers. It was great to be able to give each other a little cheer and it really gave you a boost… especially in the latter miles. It was also nice to see some of the locals out offering their support, despite the weather conditions, which was all really appreciated”.
Calum set himself the goal of completing the race in a sub-4-hour timeframe – a challenge for any level of runner… especially considering the appalling weather conditions. Incredibly, Calum completed the race in a fantastic 3hrs 44mins, and made it back to his sofa for a (much needed) hot cup of coffee and bacon roll, just in time to catch the men’s race on the TV. Needless to say, he didn’t move much for the rest of the day, but I’m sure we can all agree, he deserved a good ‘mooch’ after such an amazing effort.
Not one to take it easy (although who could blame him if he did!), Calum is already looking to his next challenge – the London 1000 next month (another ‘virtual’ race). He has also submitted his application for next year’s London Marathon ballot – with the hopes that 2021 will see a more ‘traditional’ version of the event.