The Virtual London Marathon: Ladybower Adventures
The London Marathon is an iconic race, famous for its route around some of the capital’s most famous landmarks. It’s a fantastic race for so many reasons but this year of course things were just a little bit different. After the original April date was postponed to October it soon became apparent that the race was not going to be able to go ahead in its original format at all this year.
This is where the Virtual London Marathon came into play, the organisers worked hard to ensure that we could all still take part safely and organised a fantastic virtual London Marathon event for runners from all over the world to be part of.
The 2020 Virtual London Marathon
The beauty of the London Marathon 2020 being a virtual race was that participants could run their own route in their own time as long as it was completed on the 4th October.
In a nutshell you had 24 hours to complete the twenty-six point two miles, it was your choice whether to split the runs up or to run the full marathon distance in one go. It was a fantastic opportunity for such a huge range of people from all over the world to get involved in their own way.
For my 2020 virtual London Marathon I chose to head to Ladybower, Derwent and Howden Reservoirs with two friends to complete the marathon with the gorgeous views of the reservoirs as our backdrop. It was a scenic (rather undulating) route rather than a fast one but the views on the way round more than made up for it!
The Virtual London Marathon Route
We parked at the Fairholmes Visitor Centre and started our route just before the Derwent Dam, a pretty impressive start line!
Our route took us round the full 10 mile loop of Derwent and Howden Reservoirs with a pit stop at Slippery Stones for the all-important race photos. Once we had completed the 10 mile loop we ran an out and back section to the main road bridge at Ladybower before heading back to the car to pick up more supplies. This route took us to just about 16 miles meaning we had 10 more to look forward to!
To keep things interesting after our stop we ran the top loop of Derwent and Howden again but this time in reverse to make up our full 26.2 miles. The Derwent Dam again was our finish line which is no Buckingham Palace but pretty impressive in its own right!
The route was fantastic, beautiful and perfect to complete the marathon. We also saw a lot of other runners taking on the same route which added to the magic of the day.
After being on weather watch for a week and seeing the grim forecast I think we were some of the luckiest runners out there! It rained for all of two minutes at about halfway and then we were treated to some gorgeous sunshine which lasted for the rest of the run.
We massively appreciated the sunshine and commented several times on how lucky we were not to be in London in the pouring rain. For once we had better weather up north and we were definitely grateful. The Peaks not only provided the views but also gave us some amazing marathon weather too, we were definitely winning!
The Virtual London Marathon Run
We headed out there to complete the marathon with a run/walk strategy, nothing fast, nothing silly, just get to that finish line. I knew there were a fair few ups and downs along the route so just getting the miles completed was definitely the aim of the game. Our total moving time was around the 4 hour 30 min mark with our elapsed time being 5 hours 19.
We stopped for photos, to take off layers, to sort out water and had a pit stop back at the cars to pick up more supplies. It was the most relaxed but probably one of the hardest marathons I have run. The first half went well, we ran most of it and chatted our way round.
The struggles came after the stop at the cars when it became clear we had stood still for a little bit too long and the legs were not happy about it! That second lap of the top reservoir was tough going. Sore legs that struggled to get going again after our stop made things hard but the determination to get to that finish was all we needed to keep ourselves moving.
Although it was hard work being out there on our own, it was fab to see other marathon runners taking on the same route as us. Lots of cheering each other as we ran past and even the odd cheer from others out walking the route too gave those little pick-me-ups that we so desperately needed.
Virtual London Marathon Finish Line Feeling
After struggling our way around those final miles after the pit stop (the last 6 were the ones that really hurt) we finally made it to our finish line. Luckily another lady had finished the virtual just ahead of us, so we were cheered in by her and her family at the finish line too, such a lovely way to end the race!
It certainly wasn’t the London that we all know and love but given the current situation it was absolutely the next best thing! I would definitely recommend the route around the reservoirs as a long walk or run, it’s absolutely stunning!