With Covid-19 cancelling any opportunity for runners to participate in marathons this year many runners have taken to virtual marathons instead. Sarah Hart is an avid runner and documents her running journey on her Instagram page!

Sarah feels that virtual runs and marathons are a great way to unite the running community when park runs and events cannot take place. “The Run 5 Donate 5 Nominate 5 was a great example – a simple initiative that was accessible for so many! Virtual races are also an incredible way of sustaining motivation and accountability.”

Sarah recently completed the Lululemon SeaWheeze Half Marathon which was a virtual 21.1 kilometre marathon.

Sarah says “having been training for the London Marathon throughout lockdown to then learn the race itself was postponed another year, I was really keen to utilise my training in a format that would challenge me but also allow me to feel connected to other runners without physically running with them! When I was asked to run the SeaWheeze virtual run – with runners from over 95 countries participating – it was a big yes from me!”

Knowing that she had the half marathon coming up gave her the drive and motivation to take part in some virtual runs beforehand. Sarah also became involved with the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation during lockdown who set up a Whatsapp group for the Roys’ Runners team.

According to Sarah, it was a fantastic way to keep momentum going. “With so much uncertainty since March around the London Marathon – building up for April, then building up again for October, to now having an additional 12+ months to train – connecting with other runners virtually has been invaluable.”

Sarah has used Instagram during this time to connect with other runners, especially others training in London. “I love following other peoples’ journeys and seeing their training, and it’s been great to share thoughts and advice with some like-minded runners on my feed.”

You can check out Sarah’s running journey on her Instagram below!

Another runner who recently decided to take up virtual marathons recently is Laura Williams from Basingstoke.

“I first ran a virtual half marathon in April for the NHS charities as I knew the proceeds would go towards helping at a time of need” Laura says. She then took part in the 2.6 challenge and ran 26km in Basingstoke and has raised £2300 to date for the St. Michael’s Hospice there.

At first, Laura found the transition to virtual running difficult but soon found her stride. “I invested in a running coach and had personal targets I wanted to achieve. These targets were put on hold as I had to throw myself into training for a second time for a Marathon that I was sure would be cancelled. It’s a blessing that I had the option to run it virtually as it makes all the training worthwhile.”

According to Laura she has been able to engage well with other runners during this time through online forums such as Badass Mother runners, Run mummy Run and the London Marathon training. “I have found this way of communication invaluable in a time of uncertainty.”                       

“I really miss race days and the camaraderie of the events but I have loved pushing myself when I could only run by myself and I’m proud of my achievements. It was hard to train for my first marathon but I was so fortunate to have an amazing group of friends and I missed them when lockdown happened.”      

Laura has two races coming up soon, the Dorney Lake 20 mile race and the Kew Gardens 10kas well as the virtual London Marathon.

Kate Couch from the Isle of Wight took up running four years ago, while in her early 40s and is enjoying virtual running events at the moment.

Kate says “I like virtual events because being based on an island, I am faced with a long journey including a sea crossing to get to most live events, so going virtual cuts all the travelling out.”

“It also means I can pick races I would never normally do – I did a race in Northern Ireland by running laps around my house during lockdown and I have done quite a few virtual trails which I wouldn’t normally get to without several nights away from home, including the Virtual Race To The Stones and the Malvern Hills Trail Half Marathon.”

Congratulations are in order for all these amazing runners and their achievements pushing forward to continue their running journey through lockdown!