Lonely joggers took to the streets in Britain’s capital city this morning on the day of what would have been the London Marathon, while other would-be entrants have taken up other challenges to raise money for charity.
The annual 26-mile run was postponed until October due to the coronavirus crisis but that did not stop runners heading out this morning.
They were pictured in colourful tracksuits as they jogged across Tower Bridge and down the Mall, both of which are ordinarily part of the iconic marathon’s route.
Whilst some were in pairs, many kept up social distancing guidelines by jogging alone and keeping their minds occupied with music played through headphones.
However, for those unable to take to the streets, many people have joined in with the charity sector’s 2.6 Challenge initiative – which encourages people to take part in activities based around the numbers 2.6 or 26.
The initiative is an attempt to replace the millions of pounds-worth of donations which charities would have received from events such as the London Marathon which have been postponed or cancelled.
Nearly £4million has been raised so far, with celebrities including presenter Jake Humphreys – who is raising money for children and young people’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent -, Stephen Fry and cyclist Chris Froome all pledging to take part.
On Sunday, Mr Humphreys posted a video on Twitter of him with his wife Harriet and children as they prepared to embark on their plan to climb 26 trees and canoe 2.6 miles.
He urged his followers: ‘Go on to the JustGiving pages that you might see, do what you can to support the charity of your choice today, for us it is the Community Support foundation and CLIC Sargent.
‘The other thing I would say is if you were planning on running the London Marathon and everybody was going to sponsor you anyway, I really think it would be a good idea for you to speak to those people and see if they will still give you the money.
‘Because that’s what this is about, charities which have lost so much money because the London Marathon isn’t happening.’
Other people around the country have also been inventive with their initiatives.
One mother, Jennie Mattinson, shared a video of her amazing feat of running the entire 26 miles of the marathon via repeated laps of her garden.
The clip showed her as she broke through homemade finish line tape which was held up by her children.
And former rugby player Dani Watts, who suffered a serious spinal injury in 2017, had planned to complete the marathon in he wheelchair today, a post on the the official Twitter account of England rugby said.
Instead, she was filmed using a walking frame to walk 26 steps in her garden as part of the 2.6 Challenge.
Another inventive Briton was filmed doing 26 back flips on their trampoline to raise money for the Parkinsons UK charity, which supports people living with the debilitating condition.
And professional runner Amy Hughes is streaming her attempt to run for 26 hours on a treadmill in her home.
The feats come as the race director of the London Marathon admitted this year’s event could become an elite runners-only race in the autumn due to the coronavirus crisis.
Hugh Brasher and the marathon organisers are still hoping to hold the event with 45,000 participants on October 4, but planning has begun around 10 other options because of the global pandemic.
And speaking to The Guardian, Brasher admitted that the race may be restricted to the elite if social distancing restrictions were still in place, therefore making it impossible to run as normal.
‘Honestly, I don’t know. But in today’s society, you can never say never,’ Brasher said.
‘We are trying to stay really agile and to keep scenario planning. And at the moment, I don’t want to discount anything until it becomes really impossible.
‘The flame is still burning. And is there hope? Absolutely. But you have to do what’s right for society. You usually have 750,000 people out in central London watching 45,000 runners.
‘Then there’s the medics, the 6,000 volunteers and the transport system. There’s masses to take into account when making any decision.’
The Tokyo marathon last month was also staged as an elite-only race, with the event reduced to 300 runners and streets largely deserted.
Major spring marathons including the Barcelona marathon subsequently decided to postpone their races to October and the autumn, while the Berlin marathon has already cancelled its race scheduled for September.
But Brasher insisted he will not be rushed into making an announcement on the London showpiece just yet.
‘Our decision will be made by the back end of August at the latest,’ Brasher continued.
‘It will be based on the government guidelines, and what we and society think is right and what feels right.