|Caroline Davis after the Dorney Marathon|
Caroline writes "When the Virgin London Marathon finally succumbed to Covid-19 and there was an option to run a virtual marathon, there was an opportunity to find out if any marathons were taking place on the 4th October. Lo and behold, Active Training World was holding a live event at Dorney Lake, the home to the rowing events at the 2012 Olympics. It was billed as four laps around the rowing course (it was actually 4 horseshoe laps around the lake). Drawing closer to the event, Storm Alex descended upon Britain and the weather wasn’t looking great. It was however just a great feeling to be able to go out with fellow runners again.
The event was organised in hourly starts of runners based on predicted time with runners setting off six at a time. As an early morning runner, I was rather gutted to see an 11.00am start. After a quick email and being able to change my start time, I prepared for my first marathon race of the year after getting so close during the spring (I dabbled with a Virtual Race to the Stones off-road marathon taking in the Jubilee Way during July).
After making good time getting to the venue, I managed to get myself at the back of the sub 3-hour runners. Hitting the go button on my watch and the Virtual London Marathon app, I then hit technical issues (must remember to switch on my mobile data). I managed to get the app up and running a third of a mile into the marathon.
Settling into a pace against the wind and the rain, I came back to the start line as the lead runners were completing their first lap in around 40 minutes. Hopefully, I could get onto my second lap before being overtaken by them. The second wave of runners set off around the time I had completed my first lap. These were the 4 hour plus runners, so I could overtake a few people. After the second lap, I hit a bulge, with the sub 4 hour runners setting off. Somewhere in the middle of these was Sophie Raworth. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see her on the course, but on the news the next night, she looked remarkably fresh after running a sub 3 hour 30 minute marathon.
My pace was going really well at 8 minutes 35 seconds per mile until 21 miles, and then my right leg decided it was going to give way. Looking ahead to the Eton College rowing headquarters and looking across to the other side of the course, I put my head down and concentrated on keeping going, reckoning it was a long way to walk and running any speed would be the better option.
The Virtual London marathon app kept me going over the last few miles, although I was conscious that I would still need to run a bit further than the Dorney Lake finishing line to complete the marathon distance for London. Thankfully when approaching the 26 mile marker, there was Steve Cram proclaiming that I’d finished the marathon and I still needed to go round the corner to the finish line for the Dorney Lake marathon.
For London, I managed a time of 3 hours 51 minutes and 21 seconds. I also submitted this time for the virtual Manchester marathon. For the Dorney Lake Marathon, I registered a time of 3 hours 52 minutes and 4 seconds, coming in 398th out of 522 finishers and tenth in my age category. The winner came home in a time of 2 hours 26 minutes and 14 seconds; the first lady home finished in a time of 2 hours 49 minutes 30 seconds".