Last Sunday saw an incredible effect by many of the pioneers who took part in the Virtual London Marathon. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, this year the marathon for non-elite athletes became a virtual event. Therefore athletes could sign up and run the 26.2 miles in any location, during the course of 4th October, the distance can be split into smaller runs, as done by Nina Bond and Donna Gundry, as long as the final distance is reached. This opened up the event making it more inclusive than ever before, providing people with an opportunity to take part, who would not have been able to due to the restriction on capacity.
Emma Langstaff, Jo Robinson, Sally Crabb, Mandy and Phil Gibson travelled to Plymouth to complete their marathon, where their run followed along the length of the Plym river on the cycle path, the Plym Valley Trail. Then the athletes looped around Saltram, to repeat the Plym Valley Trail. An incredible effect was made by all the athletes who took part in this long distance challenge. Emma Langstaff completed the route in 3:33:00, Jo Robinson, finished the route in 3:13 a person best for her. Sally Crabb finished in 3:52. Whilst Mandy Gibson completed the route in 3:44, with Phil finishing 4:24.
Mark Deacon, who created the route for the pioneers to ensure the correct distance, also completed the marathon. Cycling the 26.2 miles to support the athletes. Sadly during the ride, Mark took a tumble from his bike, but quickly recovered and continued to support his fellow athletes.
Clive Finnimore completed the marathon in a personal best time of 3:45:38, this being his third marathon. The route he took was to complete the 26.2 miles. Running from Cary Park to Trelaske creating a triangle, then along the A387, passed West Waylands Campsite, then to create a second triangle at Tencreek, repeating this a number of times until he completed his marathon. Showing amazing spirit later that day then ran to the finish line with Lynne Overd.
Mark Grassam took a simpler route, running 26 laps around the picturesque Hannafore. Mark, who is recovering from a knee injury completed the route in 4:49. During the run he was joined by John Gossan, Clive Finnimore (having already completed his marathon), Graham and Di Foster, Nina Bond with Donna Gundry
Lynne Overd, who braved the night air by starting in the early hours of the morning, designed 4 different routes around looe to complete her 26.2 miles. Her routes took her over to Hannafore where she met fellow athlete Mark Grassam, Kilminorth Woods, over to Millendreath beach and tackling some of the hills in Looe via Barbican Road. She completed the run in 6 hours 53 minutes.
Julie and Jas Gregory also chose to complete the Virtual London Marathon in Looe. For Jas, this was her first marathon and completed the route alongside her mum an impressive 7 hours and 5 minutes. Their route took them from near Barcelona, outside of Looe, into West Looe where the pair crossed the river several times to complete their challenge. Running many times over to Hannafore and onto Lammana Chapel, before running into Kilminorth woods and then back in the town and the beach.
Darren Hardwick who opted to take part in the Manchester Virtual Marathon ran along the Camel trail and was joined by fellow pioneer, Linda Cuff, running the London Virtual Marathon. Darren and Linda's run took them from Wenfordbridge, their starting location to Hellandbridge, via Bodmin and Wadebridge to the coast where they overlooked Padstow, to return to Bodmin to complete the route. This largely flat but very wet route, which originally was a railway line, takes in some beautiful scenery for woodland, moorland and estuary. Darren completed his run in 4:49, with Linda completing hers in 4:56. The last 5K of the route Sara Grattan joined Darren to complete the Tiki Challenge. Sara having recently joined the pioneers and trained as part of the 2020 Couch to 5K group prior to lockdown, this is her first outdoor run in 3 months. Sara completed her run in 52:31.
The final pair to run the Virtual London marathon from the pioneers was Nina Bond and Donna Gundry. Opting for a slight variation, in splitting the run into 4 runs each 6.55 miles in length. Their first run, taking full advantage of the 24 hours time allocation, started at midnight and were joined by Christian Boyce. This leg of the journey took the trio around Looe, towards Hannafore,then the beach and looping back to the Scout hut. For the second run, at a more reasonable 8.30 in the morning saw Nina and Donna make a team of 6, whilst adhering to social distancing rules, where joined by Kirstie Maywood, Kathy Saunders, Geraldine Bowden, Emma Collins. Kathy very generously made flapjack for the pair to boost their energy along the route. This run took place in Duleo along the country lanes. For their third run, they took to the Kilminorth Woods, running passed Watergate camping site creating some variety for the runners. However by now the heavy rain had created much harder running conditions, in places the duo ran through thick mud. After leaving the woods, they ran on to Hannafore, to see fellow runner Mark Grassam. For their fourth and final run, this took place back in Looe, running incorporating a loop at Hannafore and again on to the beach and were met by fellow runner Emma Collins, who provided a much needed chocolate for the pair.