Race Review: Virtual London Marathon 2020

A version of this post first appeared on Fetch Everyone on 6th October 2020.

On Sunday 4th October last year, I completed the Virtual London Marathon 24 hour challenge (a 1.2 mile run every hour on the hour for 24 hours) that I had been planning for several months. It was a lot easier physically than I expected – my legs still felt absolutely fine and fresh 20+ miles in – and probably slightly tougher mentally. I knew what I had to do and I was able to keep getting myself out the door, but it just felt like it went on for such an insanely long time.

Virtual London Marathon
The middle of the night… sometime during the 24-hour period!

I posted some thoughts the day afterwards, along with a YouTube video about my journey through the 24 hours:

Stuff I forgot to mention in the video:

(1) While there were a lot of runners out and about, I only spotted one other guy who was definitely doing the marathon (i.e. had a running number on). I must have looked like I was struggling at that point as his exhortation of ‘keep going’ had a bit of a worried tone to it.

(2) I don’t have much luck with phones and the London Marathon. In 2019, when I staggered round the real race in 7:13, my phone spent so much time in my sweaty back pocket that the outer layer of whatever-they-finish-phone-plastic-with started rubbing off, leaving a mottled effect. I was happy to leave that as victory scars on the phone in 2019, but rather less willing to do the same with the completely smashed screen on my new phone in 2020, so the phone went into a repair shop a few days later!

I hope to do many marathons-in-one-go in the future, and maybe even organised longer endurance events, but I don’t think I’ll ever attempt to do such a long challenge as this just by myself (or with occasional accompanying Geth) again. There were a lot of very lonely laps out there. I’m really glad I did it, though, just to see what it was like and prove to myself that it was possible.

Two days after the event, I wrote:

‘I think it’s going to take me all week to recover from doing this – it was really intense, and I don’t feel like I’ve caught up on sleep or processed it properly yet. Hoping to feel marginally normal again by the weekend!’

In hindsight, it was a mistake only to take one rest-ish week – I ended up burning myself out later in October and needed two rest-ish months as a result – so I’ll bear that in mind for the next one!

(The ‘next one’ – the in-person London Marathon – is scheduled for October, but you just never know with this pandemic, so as I’ve mentioned before I just have to hope very hard!)

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