2020 London Marathon - The REAL experience of a VIRTUAL race
London Virtual Marathon

On Sunday 4th October 2020 the weather was grim, windy, wet and cold. It was virtual race day.

But what does that actually mean?

Due to the global pandemic, race organisers decided to cancel the 2020London Marathon and offer participants the option to race the full distance (42.195km) in their own terms. We had the choice of venue, anywhere we liked, and could decide to complete the distance in one go or in several smaller runs as long as it all happened on that Sunday.

Virgin London Marathon 2020

Being an avid competitor and having not raced this year yet, I was very eager to test myself and run as fast as I could. I decided the most controlled environment I could encounter would be an athletics track. With only 400m covered each lap and 105.5 laps in total, I knew it could be a tough day out. But I favoured this over the risk of running in a more public place where pedestrians, cyclist, cars, animals, buggies and other unknown moving particles could slow me down.

 I even went as far as looking for a crew to help with the logistic of hydration and nutrition during the race. He did an amazing job to minimise my efforts and made sure I was never slowing down. This also meant I could drink and eat as often as I wanted (unlike standard races where there are a fixed number of water stations) which helped me feeling good throughout the run.

The target was to aim for a new personal best after having followed a specific marathon training plan (www.fastrunning.com) for 10 weeks. The pace was set at 92’’/lap or 3’50’’/km and if I was to maintain it the whole way, it might give me the chance to get a Championship entry for 2021. It was an ambitious dream in those conditions, a “crazy” one some said.

I am pleased to say that running on the track proved to be the perfect way to keep an accurate look on the clock and probably helped me maintain the pace until the end. A shame there was such discrepancy between my GPS watch and the official app…If I had known I wouldn’t have stopped only to notice the app indicated I had only completed 99% of the distance. Hard to run fast again when you think you‘ve already crossed the finish line.

A few other runners (and supporters) had the same idea and we ended up being about 10 people racing around the track that morning. A day I will not forget for a long time.

Pierre Meslet - Profeet ultrarunner

Got that PB I was looking for!

A marathon is always a very hard physical and mental effort and it is not supposed to be run over a 400m loop. I actually had one of my best running day ever and got that PB I was looking for so I can’t say it was harder than a standard organised race.

Success despite the restrictions

I am very thankful for all the support I received on that day at the Barn Elms running track (crew, friends, family, sponsors and strangers) and also before and after the event.

The running community is truly fantastic! Running a virtual event is also witnessing how people who don’t even know you, cheer on your name after a few dozen laps. I believe the spirit of the London Marathon was there this year too and I would like to thank the organisers for coming up with this idea. I loved it!

Author & participant: Pierre Meslet, ultrarunner and #profeetambassador
Banner image courtesy of Virgin Money London Marathon

Well done Pierre! Thank you for inspiring us and we look forward to seeing you in the Profeet Sports Lab again soon.

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