The London Marathon Is Cancelled. Here's How Runners Feel.

The 2020 London Marathon will be an elite-athlete only event, organisers announced.
Marathon runners share how they're feeling following the marathon cancellation
Marathon runners share how they're feeling following the marathon cancellation

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The London Marathon has become the latest victim of Covid-19. After initially being postponed to October, the race will now only be accessible for a small pool of elite athletes. Others will be able to run the race remotely, if they wish.

Of course, the marathon isn’t only about elite athletes. For many people, the 26-mile challenge is about more than just running fast; it’s a way of achieving a personal milestone, or celebrating the life of a person lost all too soon.

Its cancellation is gutting for many – those who have spent months training, those who’ve waited years to get a place, or even those who have used it as something to focus on through the pandemic. Many will be looking for new ways to motivate themselves and release tensions of the year – perhaps even running the 26-mile length alone in their own neighbourhoods.

HuffPost UK spoke to five London Marathon runners to find out how they’re feeling now they can’t take part in the famous race. Here’s what they had to say.

NurPhoto via Getty Images

‘I was running for my dad, who said 2020 would be my year’

Sian, 30, charity worker for Age Cymru, North Wales

Sian, marathon runner
Sian, marathon runner

“Running the London Marathon was the dream for me. I’ve never been one for bucket lists, but I followed the event religiously, before I’d even ran a mile. I watched the last one with my dad, who passed away a few months after. He told me: ‘2020 will be your year Siani’. Three weeks after after he died, I was given a place on team Macmillan. Running gave me focus, which I needed.

“I spent weekend after weekend running for hours in various storms that hit us at the beginning of this year, as well as my own grief, which I hadn’t acknowledged previously. When my grief finally caught up with me, I wondered how I was still here breathing, in this world where my dad no longer existed.

“There were days when I had to focus on breathing from one hour to the next and nothing more. But despite how I felt, when my alarm would go off for my morning long run, I pulled on my running gear and gave everything I had.

“In February, I started to feel the unease of running this marathon. But given the race was in memory of my dad I was determined to run, if there was a possibility. I knew it was the best decision when it was postponed in April, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I hadn’t shed a tear or two! I’ve now signed up for a few virtual races with my son to raise funds for charities, including Mind and Roy Castle’s Lung Foundation.

“After the latest announcement, I had a gin in the garden and a natter with my fabulous neighbour. I will run this weekend, and I will carry on running. My aim is to complete the virtual run in October, where my family can join me along the way! London will be there for us someday.”

‘I will still run, as a mark of defiance in tough times’

Walker, 32, law professional, London

Walker, marathon runner
Walker, marathon runner

“My first entry for the London Marathon ballot was in 2013, I was unsuccessful then and have been unsuccessful each in ballot entry since. In January 2020, I was fortunate enough to get a charity place with the Redress Trust – it was going to be my year! By the time London Marathon cancelled the April race, I had already run the 20-mile long run and fundraised £350 for the Redress Trust.

“The April announcement was a huge setback, but daily short runs during the tough lockdown days were a great antidote to the harrowing Covid-19 stories. I stopped marathon training between April and May and only restarted in June with the hope of running on October 4. It was difficult to train with uncertainty hanging over me, but I’m relieved with London Marathon’s decision.

“I intend on running the virtual 40th marathon on October 4 and raising as much as I can for Redress. While disappointed about the lack of crowds and atmosphere, I’m determined to still run the London streets I call home and collect the 40th medal and shirt. 2020 has been a tough year for most, I will run as a mark of defiance in tough times.”

‘I’ll still be getting miles in, walking lots and doing weights in the gym’

Daniel, 37, recruitment business manager, Nottinghamshire

Daniel, London Marathon runner
Daniel, London Marathon runner

“I’m relieved we finally have an answer about the London Marathon. I know they’re giving runners the option to do it virtually, but that’s not for me. Running the London Marathon is all about the experience, crowds, music, and other inspirational runners helping each other finish and grab that special medal.

“I’m no gazelle and don’t enjoy long-distance running, but training for the marathon saved me during dark times. My dad died at 55 from lung cancer, and I had depression and really struggled. It gave me a focus, a purpose and a way to give back to keep his legacy alive. He was my absolute hero and my world.

“Waiting for the marathon announcement has been mentally and physically draining. The 2021 marathon will be October now, so I won’t be re-starting my training plan until next year, but I’ll still be getting miles in, walking lots and doing weights in the gym.

“I’ll carry on helping others talk comfortably about their mental health and removing the stigma attached to it.”

‘I’m absolutely exhausted and gutted I won’t be able to run’

Michael, 23, Boston

“I’m absolutely gutted I won’t be able to run the marathon in London this year. But, while it’s disappointing, I do feel runners can’t be too down about it, considering what’s happening in the wider world right now.

“It’s important, at times like this, to look at positives. I will still run the London Marathon in October, although it will be virtual from my hometown in Boston.

“I can then say I’ll be a part of the first (and maybe only ever) virtual London Marathon. Let’s see how it goes – and at least my training will not go to waste again! I know it won’t be the same as a normal London Marathon, but make no mistake, I will be back to run the London Marathon next year or in the next few years when the world is safer place again.

“My advice to other runners is to stay positive. The opportunity will come round again and will be bigger and better than before.”

‘I’ve applied and been rejected many times’

Calandra, 41, entrepreneur, Brighton

Calandra, London Marathon runner
Calandra, London Marathon runner

“My initial feeling was relief! I’ve never run a marathon before, and I find running quite gruelling. I never start my training early enough, so although I ran the Brighton Half Marathon in February – and ran two halves during lockdown – my proper marathon training hadn’t really begun. My motivation fizzled when the April event was postponed, and it didn’t help that my husband put my running shoes in the tumble dryer!

“That said, the physical exercise focus really helped me in lockdown – it gave me a reason to be out the house, in the fresh air, and importantly gave me time alone. I’m generally an active person, so pounding the pavements in Brighton kept me positive and chilled – I’m very grateful to live here! Another benefit of me running was it motivated friends of mine to run, too.

“I’m a born and bred Londoner, and this event is very much on the bucket list. I’ve applied and been rejected many times, so another years’ wait won’t make a difference – and I’ll be waiting. For me it’s about the crowds, the atmosphere and running in my birth city.

“On October 4, I’ll sit on my sofa watching marathon documentaries and revel in having pain-free knees and no blisters!”