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London Marathon 2020 – A Runner’s Diary!

First name out of the hat last night was Hilary Murgatroyd, followed by Rich Parry as reserve.

11/March 2020

I had a read through some of my previous blogs on my marathon preparation and was conscious that I had so many great training runs and routes planned which all fell by the wayside mainly due to the weather.

So now that time is very much of the essence and with my longer runs restricted to the weekends it’s time to take real action – rain, hail or shine.

And these were exactly the conditions I ran in on Sunday. Starting from Hungerford at around 8.30am I ran through to Great Bedwyn, back towards town via Little Bedwyn and North Standen Farm, then round the marshes before a final loop round Charnham Park. All in I covered 18 miles. It was slow and muddy and I tripped and fell over on the marshes. Fortunately I landed on soft ground on my hip so no injuries to report.

Although my pace was slow I was keen to ensure I covered the 18 miles and still be back in time for a hot bath and an all-important appointment in front of the TV to watch Scotland take on France in the Six Nations. Splendid performance from the Scots!

However, I digress…. It had been several months since I had run 18 miles but when regular Hares training came round again on Tuesday, I felt absolutely fine and am clearly a bit fitter. I’m always at the back of the pack on the hills but I felt better able to keep up on the straights and downhill and my recorded pace was a lot better than it has been lately.

All in all I’m feeling a lot more confident and optimistic about the race and my plan is to spend the next couple of weeks getting up to the 24-mile mark then taper.

There’s still no word from the organisers about whether the race will still go ahead amid public health concerns around large gatherings due to Coronavirus. It was announced last week that the Paris Marathon, scheduled for 5th April has been postponed and there’s really no indication either way at the moment that London will follow suit.

If it goes ahead then great! If not then hopefully it will be a postponement rather than a full cancellation. Whatever happens I do understand that public health protection has to come first.

In the meantime. My next run will be a 20 miler on Sunday and I’ll let you know how it went next week.

02/March 2020

Less than two months to go now so I’m now entering my peak training period. In my last update I was planning to hit the South West Coastal path in Devon but high winds made this unsafe. I did manage some shorter hillier runs which were good for building some core strength but not the greater distance run which I was really hoping for.

I was back out with the Hares on Tuesday on one of my favourite routes (Anvilles) and re-ran much of the route adding some extra distance in on Sunday. It made such a difference running in sunshine for what seems to have been the first time in months. I stuck to the roads, as all my usual long training routes along the canal are either flooded or too muddy just now. It was good to have built in more elevation on the roads but my distances are still below where I want them to be at this stage so I’m looking at other routes as I really need to start increasing my mileage.

There’s inevitably also some anxiety that this year’s London Marathon may not go ahead due to concerns over the spread of Coronavirus. The Paris Half-Marathon was cancelled this weekend and the Tokyo Marathon was restricted to elite runners only. The organisers of London say they are monitoring the situation and unlikely to make a decision until closer to the date of the event which is April 26th. In the meantime, all eyes will be on what will happen with the Paris Marathon which is due to take place on 5th April.

However, as far as I’m concerned, it’s business as usual. The decision over whether London will go ahead is out of my hands and the only thing I can do is prepare as best I can in the hope that the spread of the virus will recede allowing public events such as this to go ahead. However, I would completely understand should the decision be to cancel. Public health ultimately has to come first.

I’ll be back next week hopefully with an update on extended mileage and better weather!


Storms Ciara, Dennis, work commitments and a foot injury have conspired to keep my training mileage down this week but I’ve still been busy.

On 9th February, myself and a couple of hundred hardy souls descended on Newbury Racecourse for the half marathon, 10K and 5K races. Our chief opponent, Storm Ciara, certainly made her presence felt and I spent most of my sixth half-marathon race crouched into the wind with what felt like gravel being thrown into my face. What the race lacked in clement weather though was well and truly made up for in competitor camaraderie. A special shout out is due to my work colleague Jonathan Westlake who hailed a cheery and heart-felt “well done Hilary” – as he lapped me and went on the win the race in an incredible 1 hour 20 mins! For the record, I was 197th. Before learning the storm was on the way, I had been hoping for a PB as the course is nice and flat. I ended up staggering to the finishing line in my second worst time and (look away if you are squeamish) minus a toenail.

I also incurred a further injury to the same foot on the day (a bashed bunion) and given the London Marathon is inching closer I wasn’t keen to aggravate it so I have spent the week trying to rest it but otherwise keeping fit either swimming or through yoga. I’m back out with the club this week for our Kintbury run and our new intervals session on Thursdays which are proving popular. I’m also off to Devon at the weekend where I’m roughing it in a bothy without electricity. Weather permitting, I hope to get out and about on my beloved south west coastal path or I might retreat inland if it’s too windy.

In the meantime, I’m back to my regular routine of yoga on a Monday, Hares on a Tuesday, rest day Wednesday, Hares intervals on Thursdays, swimming on Fridays, rest day on Saturdays and long run on Sundays.

I’ll be back next week hopefully with some running tales from Devon. I’m still trying to figure out how to recharge my Garmin in a bothy. Answers on a postcard please?


A shot at running in the London Marathon should be a no-brainer for most runners but, for me it posed a conundrum!

Just two weeks before the draw for the club place, I had completed my first marathon in Bournemouth and was unsure if I could summon up the time and energy the training would require again so soon. I decided in the end to keep my name in the hat and let the decision be made for me. After all, the chances of me being picked were slim…….

Well, I was picked, and here we are, just under 11 weeks before race day. The calendar has moved into February and I have long since recovered from the initial shock of my against-the-odds selection.

Since the beginning of they year, I’ve been focussing on shorter, hillier routes as well as building up strength in my hips and thighs through targeted exercise and swimming. My legs have a tendency to stiffen up over longer distances so I’m hoping that earlier strengthening work will pay off as I get deeper into my training.

I’ve now started to build up my mileage adding two per week, starting last Sunday at 11 miles. This is the furthest I have run since last October and there are noticeable and obvious differences in marathon training during different seasons. The first being mud, lots of mud which turned Sunday’s run into, at times, a laborious, frustrating trudge. However, the cooler weather means I’m generally more comfortable and I’m not yet lugging around my Camelbak. The bulk of my training for the Bournemouth Marathon took place in the summer months and by the time I was up to 22 miles I was running later in the evening and into the night.

This weekend, I’m doing the first Newbury Racecourse Half Marathon and hoping to break the, to date, elusive two hour barrier. It’s my first race of the year and I’ll be back next week to let you know how it went.