04 Oct (not) The London Marathon Report

As we all know, 2020 has been a year of unfulfilled promises and aspirations. Runners need goals and targets, and having races removed from our landscapes has been a difficult thing to deal with. Even more frustrating has been holding out for events which might have happened but then got cancelled, as lockdown restrictions came back to bite us.

The Virgin Money London Marathon kept our hopes up by postponing from 26th April until 4th October, even though by late summer most of us thought it untenable to hold an event for 45,000 competitors in the centre of London. Eventually the mass-participation version got shunted to October 2021, but the organisers decided to go ahead with a Virtual manifestation for 2020, with entrants completing 26.2 miles anytime during Sunday 4th October.

I don’t mind admitting that I was a bit cynical about how this would work, as 26 miles is a tough nut to crack as a solo run….little did I know my Club mates would come up with lots of ways to crack this particular nut! Oh, and just to make it interesting, the weekend coincided with a particularly nasty storm called Alex….

First out of the gate for us (at the ungodly hour of 06:00!) was Shirley Howman. Now Shirley had unfortunately picked up a stress fracture during the summer and most ‘normal’ people would have binned any long distance endurance challenges….not Shirley. She was determined to complete the VMLM for her chosen charity So she worked closely with her physio to get fitted with a special ‘boot’ and started training with crutches for added support….and today walked/jogged/swung to 26.2 miles in 6 hours 19 minutes. Massive achievement and amazing determination from one very tough cookie.CLIC Sargent Team Young Lives

So she worked closely with her physio to get fitted with a special ‘boot’ and started training with crutches for added support….and today walked/jogged/swung to 26.2 miles in 6 hours 19 minutes. Massive achievement and amazing determination from one very tough cookie.

Next to start at 07:00 were a very ‘chatty’ squad of P&D Ladies led by Mrs Marathon, Lisa Cleary, accompanied by Bethan Apglyn and Kate Cheshire (who was running her first marathon). Oh and did I mention Beth had run a 3:39 PB marathon the previous weekend at the Goodwood Motor Circuit? This intrepid threesome bantered their way around Barry and Penarth in a time of about 4:45, meeting up with various other groups and Club members (including Gary Brown and Chelle Jenkins) and eventually earning the rights to unlimited food and drink at Cadwaladers in Barry Island!

Not everyone wanted to run the marathon distance on the road. A completely mental trio decided to take on the monumental challenge of the Welsh Coastal Path, starting at Porthkerry and turning around at Cwm Nash. Leading this madness was (predictably) Trail Maestro Mr Chris Nellins, accompanied by willing victims Emma Healy and Darren Morgan, both of whom were running for charities Crimestoppers and Team Anthony Nolan.  40 mph winds and flooded paths were not going to stop this bunch staggering through 26 miles in an awe-inspiring 5:45.

Some Club Members decided to gun for all-out times in solo efforts, all the more credible in the horrendous weather conditions during Sunday morning. Catherine Barker recorded an amazing time of 3:31 on the London Marathon app, but her Garmin watch disagreed, so she jogged a bit further to record (a still monumental) 3:42. Kit Lambert stripped down to a club vest and shorts, but was seemingly unaffected by the awful weather, crushing his official London Marathon time from last year by a crazy 15 minutes (3:36).

Andy Pearce hedged his bets by waiting until the weather had calmed down a bit, and was accompanied by his mate Jeff Cox to a cracking 3:43, ably supported by Mrs Cath and son Ben.

Malcolm Bradley had concocted a typically ‘fast’ course which incorporated repeat stretches of the pan-flat Port Road (and a secret stash of energy drink!), and was accompanied by Club Chairman Simon Williamson between miles 12 and 16. With the wind dying down and the rain holding off, Malcolm was rewarded with a superb 4:21, massively inside the M70 Good For Age standard of 5 hours and presently making him 15th overall in that Age Category.

Mandy Barrington was (like Shirley) recovering from a bit of accident trauma, with her arm still in plaster. She sensibly opted to make a day of of it, accompanied at times by Abyd Quinn Aziz, and quite coincidently meeting up with Lisa’s Squad. Mandy’s reward was a moving time completion of 5:35.

In summary, an amazing day for the Club’s runners and supporters, coming together in these testing times to celebrate friendship and athletic endeavour!

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