Not the London Marathon

The club are keen to share your stories of how you are virtually participating in your events during the lockdown. Here is club member Charlie Wartnaby’s account of his not the London Marathon.

I’ve been privileged to run the last 10 London Marathons, always my favourite day of the year, but this spring it just wasn’t going to happen. But I couldn’t let the date pass unmarked. I still had the endurance in my legs, though also a couple of extra kg of lockdown ballast on my person.

It wasn’t just me on Sunday – I almost did the same as Jon Anderson by going for a 26.2 mile blast up and down the busway to get my missing VLM fix. But after some deliberation, I thought I’d be a bit topical by attempting my first ever Strava art, entitled “Covid nurse-angel with hat and mask” aka “Not the London Marathon”. Though to be honest the end result could have been called “Cackling Monster from Ghostbusters”.

Wearing the most fashionable item of clothing I own — a genuine Giulio Fashion vest from a Chariots of Fire relay long forgotten — I set off from near home on Newmarket Road at 9 am, and drew the fiddly face mask and hat by criss-crossing Coldhams and Stourbridge Commons, slowed a bit by a gate, fence, switchbacks, bumpy ground and the railway bridge steps. Remember those when you hear my time…

Completing my angel’s cheek down Barnwell Road, a woman in an inflatable unicorn costume came the other way, clearly missing London even more than me as a charity runner. I yelled my hearty support, and she blasted back enthusiastically with her whistle. I hope she was nearly finished, it was getting to be a warm one.

Out to Cherry Hinton and around Fulbourn next to trace my figure’s outstretched left arm, keeping my pace brisk but a bit below race HR — I didn’t want to damage myself, but did want to fire up the engines a bit for some sense of occasion. Then through the Addenbrookes site and on to Trumpington, skipping around a bit to maintain social distance by Byron’s Pool, as I traced the angel’s legs.

Twenty miles in going up Trumpington Road, who should obligingly step off the pavement to give me my 2 metre space than Giulio Cinque himself. “Check out the vest!” I yelled. With his eye for fashion, naturally he already had…

Past the track and up the Coton Footpath next to sketch the right arm, back along Madingley Road in reality but in my head it was all The Embankment. By this time my HR was well up but I wasn’t inclined to slow down, I could already taste the London Pride cached in the fridge, always my first post-marathon drink in the Westminster Red Lion using the VLM voucher. I completed my loop, overshot and doubled back a little to get 26.22M on my watch, and stopped it — at 3 hrs and 1 minute. Damn. Remember the slow bits early on?

I’ve never sought sponsorship for London; everyone knows I’m doing it anyway, and I wouldn’t want the pressure to keep running if I was injured before or during. But for this escapade, I sponsored myself for Practical Action, who are welcome to the train fares and pub rounds we didn’t get to spend this weekend; their sanitation work is going to matter a lot in this crisis. If you’re interested, see .

PS It’s Monday today. My legs are quite well down the DOMS scale (OK walking down alternate stairs, no handrail). I think I got it about right.