London Mararthon for JDRF UK

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

John Sutherland and Kathryn Johnson complete the Virtual London Marathon for company charity JDRF UK

Both had signed up to complete the 40th London Marathon in April. Fundraising had begun and training was ongoing and getting tougher. Then the event was postponed to October due to COVID-19. When October came it was clear the mass-participation event could not take place in London, so the organisers asked those with places to complete the 26.2 miles on October 4th wherever they lived, on a route of their own. John and Kath were up for the challenge...

John ran in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, on a route along the promenade and Kath ran around the Cotswold Water Park, England, some 400 miles south.



John's story:

Jumped out of bed at 02:00hrs ready for some breakfast and a warm up before driving off to Kirkcaldy Promenade where I’d leave the car stocked up with isotonic drinks and plenty of carbs and dry clothes.

Our promenade is exactly one mile long. We have markings graffitied onto the tarmac by our local running group, Kirkcaldy Wizards. The 1/4mile markings were very handy. Before every u-turn upon reaching the mile mark that would become so familiar and increasingly tiresome, I’d allow myself a minute to stretch the legs and record each mile through Twitter for anybody that couldn’t get to sleep on Saturday night...

Wanting to finish at the exact point of a mile marker had me measure the additional 352 meters weeks in advance. My starting line would be the car park to Morrison’s with only the trolley shelter offering protection from the East Coast gales and rainfall. A good starting point for so many reasons.

With both my Strava and marathon App devices checked and in order, I set off at 03:17hrs full of optimism and low expectancy. Seven hours later I found myself crossing over our Wizards act of vandalism for the 13th and final time. Legs broken but spirit so high I could touch the clouds above. Clouds that were hidden in the darkest of the night when I started my journey, but offered light full of promise and rejuvenated enthusiasm as the sun rose above the horizon from the Firth of Forth. Waves that had crashed against the sea wall during my first ten miles were subsiding with ease and a hush of silence, only broken by the chants of encouragement and well wishes from the local dog walkers and fitness enthusiast that keep to their Sunday routines. Friends of mine and that of my boy, who gave up their Sunday morning to run alongside me for four of the final six miles were a welcome boost to my aching legs, talk of football and the proceeding afternoon down the local all feeding me with determination to pick up the pace. A pace that became so jaded, an injection of life hit me after I turned to one of my running mates and noticed he was at walking pace while discussing our teams fortunes for the forthcoming football season. All in all, a great experience and one that I will learn from as we prepare for London in 2021.

A very small mention must also go to the snail that passed me by also. Darn you, I hope you find your place among the creatures of the sea that I threw you into. 

Kath's story: 

I had decided to set off early and get it done, but I wasn't prepared for the torrential rain and wind that greeted me when I got up at 6:30am. However, there was no chance of quitting so I was out by 7:15am, having eaten the recommended porridge for breakfast. My route took me from my front door, to the Cotswold Water Park and back again via Oaksey. This is roughly 13miles, so I had to do it twice which seemed like a sensible plan. After less than 2 miles my running shoes were so wet that the glue holding the inner soles in place gave up. Each inner sole was moving around with every step and I had no choice but to stop and take them out. Apart from the lack of inner soles, lap one went really well and I had the pleasure of virtually high-fiving 3 other soaked London Marathon participants who were running the other way. The water park is completely flat which I suspect is why they chose it for their route as well.

Lap 2 was a different affair and by the time I passed my inner soles in the ditch, I was struggling. Luckily for me, there were a lot more people out by the time I was on lap 2. I really didn't want the dog walkers and cyclists to see me walking, and so I plodded on until I reached 18miles. There was no choice but to have a short walk then. I got my breath back, checked my progress on the app, and after a few minutes was able to get going again. I was definitely slower than on lap one, but I kept going. I lost my sense of humour when a motorist honked their horn and proceeded to spray me by driving through a large puddle. After a few choice words I decided to check the Marathon App again on my phone. I only had 3 miles left and I could see from the clock that I had the chance to finish in under 4 hours. This was enough motivation to pick up the pace and I was completely delighted to finish in 3h 57minutes - I had a little 'arms in the air' moment all by myself on the side of the road as the App showed 26.2miles. My calculations were not entirely correct and I was still half a mile from home however, needless to say I walked that half mile!

All in all it was a very worthwhile experience and I am very grateful to JDRF UK for allowing me to have one of their charity places. I will continue with the fundraising and I am now looking forward to October 2021 when (hopefully) I can run the London Marathon on the real route.


To find out more about the amazing charity JDRF UK, please click here

To make a donation please click here