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Virgin Money London Marathon 2020 – A Virtual Event

Hands up who hasn’t had a race cancelled in 2020? This whole coronavirus thing has got a lot to answer for really, with races cancelling left, right, and centre since April. Many events are now turning virtual for 2020, where you run a route alone, or with a small group of friends (socially distanced, of course!), and log your own time and submit these to the organisers, who will usually post out a medal or souvenir of your run

The Virgin Money London Marathon is no exception to this. Having postponed earlier in 2020, and then held on for as long as possible to see if it was possible to run the race in October 2020 instead of April, they finally made the decision to go virtual, for all athletes except the elites. The elites are running a different route to usual, running laps of St. James’ Park in London. Apparently, the 26.2 mile course consists of 19.8 laps of a route in the park – that’s going to be one massive mental battle!

The event has been opened up to tens of thousands more people than usual, so people who have never had the chance (via the usual ballot process, through good-for-age entry, or a charity place) to run the London Marathon before can now do so.

Well, kind of.

Whilst everyone who signed up will get a London Marathon medal and t-shirt (and they look pretty nice too) it won’t be quite the same as running the iconic London route – nothing beats the cheering of the crowds over Tower Bridge, around the Cutty Sark, or along the Embankment as you tick off the final 5k of the race.

A view of runners crossing Tower Bridge, with both towers in the background.
Source: The London Classics (https://www.thelondonclassics.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/image1-1125×550.jpg)

You’ve got 24 hours on the 4th of October, 2020 from 00:00 to 23:59 to run the 26.2 miles on a route of your choice. It doesn’t need to all be at once either – you could run 10x 2.62 mile loops throughout the day, or 4 and a bit 10k routes. As long as you complete the 26.2 miles, you’ll get the medal and finisher t-shirt.

As always, the marathon distance isn’t something that should be attempted without training – so following a plan to get you to the start line is a good idea!

Depending on when you signed up, you might not have time to follow the usual 12-16 weeks of a plan, but that’s not the end of the world. As long as you get some long runs in (assuming you’ve got a decent running base mileage) then you could get away with it, but won’t necessarily be competitive. Just getting out there to enjoy the runs is more important than being competitive at the moment anyway – well, at least that’s what I’m sticking to haha!

Alternatively, you could always decide that you’re happy to do a series of 10k runs throughout the day instead of one long run if you haven’t completed a full marathon training cycle. Whatever you do, don’t underestimate the marathon!

I’ve run the official race a couple of times before (in 2016 as my very first marathon, and again in 2017) but haven’t been lucky enough to get a place since (and I’m not fast enough to get Good For Age placement at the moment!). I’m running this one too, with a group of friends (although using it as a training run for an ultra that I’m hoping to do in November, so it should be a nice and steady run).

Are you running? Let me know if you are!