Hannah Irwin combines a trip down memory lane with the best of the virtual running this weekend. 

In the virtual world of racing, athletes haven’t been holding back from getting stuck in. With the choice of ‘races’ to do being very limited, this means that more people of varying abilities, all the way up to Olympic level runners, have also been taking to virtual race to add some competition to their solo time trials.

Here is a round-up of a few virtual events as well as a few milestones that this week signifies.

Podium 5k kicks off 1st round

The Podium 5k team recently kicked off their virtual racing season and have already had some rapid times recorded. The likes of Adam Hickey proved that chocolate Easter eggs really can be a good source of fuel. After his daily morning dose of chocolate, Hickey headed out onto the roads of Southend to get his 5k time trial done.

After his phenomenal time, my only question is, is chocolate performance enhancing as I think we should all be eating more of it! The GB athlete clocked 13:58 on an out and back route which included a dead turn.

Fuelled by Easter Eggs and probably delighted just to have both shoes stay on his feet. Photo: Zach Bridgeland

Currently just behind Hickey in 14:10 is Ex Olympian Nick McCormick who actually joined the party on the real podium course as the course is a tried and tested 5k route. Kian Davis sits in third place with 14:37

For the ladies one of our NHS superheroes, Elsey Whyman-Davis, stormed to the top of the virtual leaderboard. The athlete holds an official best time of 16:16 for the distance, and clocked 15:47 for the virtual event! An impressive run from the Cornish doctor!

In current second place sits Eleanor Bolton, recent Euro Cross GB runner, with a solid 16:32. This too is both a track and road PB for Bolton. GB marathoner, Aly Dixon, also decided to join in for Round one. After five 60 mile weeks including only one tempo run, Dixon ran an impressive 17:31 for third place, just one second off the time she was aiming for. (Was she aiming for 17:32? – Ed.

Scottish Virtual Road Relay

The Scottish Road Relays continued on the buzz of camaraderie with their 6 stage 5k time trials. Stephanie Pennycook of Fife solo ran herself to a first-place finish with an excellent 16:33. This effort is only just 11 seconds off her PO10 recorded best time.

In second was Virginie Barrand in 16:58 with the fastest leg for Metro Aberdeen. Continuing with the trend, this is a whole 34 seconds quicker than her pb. The third female place went to GB runner and recent Scottish Cross Country Champion, Mhairi Maclennan. The Inverness athlete ran 17:04.

In the men’s virtual event, it was Anthony Addison who secured himself the top spot on the leaderboard. Addison ran 14:36 to lead his team to victory, but clocking a time just 10 seconds slower (14:46) than Addison was Alastair Hay of Central.

The third fastest male time was then clocked by Joe Ewing of Edinburgh with a strong 14:50, some rapid performances. Ewing’s best time which he set on the roads is 15:25, so it’s a first time under 15 minutes for Ewing.

Photo: Bill Dale/IOM Easter Festival

Isle of Man Easter Festival of Runnin

This weekend also saw the closing of the Isle of Man Easter Running Festival. The event saw a mixture of more traditional races, such as 5k and 10k, and more, lets say interesting races, such as a pint race and chunder mile. If you want to know why the yearly festival is the “perfect mix of beer and running” then check this article out.

The fastest time clocked in the Port Erin 10k was by Andy Norman with an impressive 32:01. Next was James Hoad with a solid 32:26. Norman’s clubmate, Simon O’Meara, secured the third fastest time in 34:33.

The women too produced some speedy times with Natalie Wangler stopping her watch on the fastest time. Wangler ran 36:54 to place her ahead of Grace Ranford. Ranford, the U20 athlete ran 40:52. Ranford finished just ahead of Rebecca Frake who ran 41:15.

The Douglas 5km saw the same two men run to the top of the leaderboard. Andy Norman once again stopped his watch on the fastest time. He ran an impressive 15:17 to secure a convincing win. As in the 10km, Norman was followed by James Hoad who clocked 15:54. Simon O’Meara too came in 3rd but was joined by Rian McCawley in the exact same time of 16:28.

Sophie Collins had a strong run in the women’s category. She secured herself the fastest woman’s spot in 18:49 ahead of Meike Freudenreich in 19:06. The U20 athlete Grace Ranford once again made it into the top three with a sub-20 time of 19:48.

There weren’t many takers for the Chunder Mile, but the win was secured by Nick Holliday in 5:31. Andy Norman entered into the Pint Race and as in the other races, he took home the win in 4:11. If only he could have stepped up to compete the Chunder Mile he might have had the IOM Grand Slam.

RunThrough Virtual Rankings

RunThrough have also joined the virtual party by putting all their races online too. The current fastest time in the 5k event has been run by Ben Green in the Run Media City event. Green clocked a sub-16 time of 15:55. It was in the RunThrough VeloPark 10k that Graeme Eyre ran the fastest time. Eyre stopped his watch on 30:53, a very impressive clocking!

Over the longer half marathon distance, Alex Brighton was the quickest runner with 1:13:52. Longer again, in the full marathon, it was Neil Shorten who took the virtual race ‘win’ in 2:41:36.

Now you’ve heard about what has been going on this weekend, what about the monumental races and events on this weekend in years prior.

Blast from the past.

Whilst the London Marathon won’t be there to bring us joy next weekend, we can still celebrate some previous successes from the event.

On the 21st of April in 1993, Eamonn Martin won over the hearts of the entire nation as he became the last British male to win the London Marathon. The 34-year old at the time had been battling against sponsors who deemed him too old to be worthy of backing.

Martin also welcomed his third child into his family just three days prior to the race and his wife remained in hospital on the day of the marathon. In response to the doubt that mounted against him due to belief that he was ‘too old’ and ‘too heavy’ to take on the marathon distance, he said he wanted to be “the fastest old git on the day” and that he was.

It was in 100 yards of sprinting that he was able to open up a 30yard gap and hold his own until he crossed the line in a time of 2:10:50.

Photo: London Marathon

A special day for Paula

It was on the 13th April 2003 that marathon queen, Paula Radcliffe, took the win at the London Marathon for the second year in a row, however she did something in 2003 that she didn’t manage to do in 2002.

Paula Radcliffe broke the world record at the time (unfortunately it has now been beaten) in an outstanding 2:15:25, almost 2 minutes faster than her own world record set in Chicago the year before. This time still puts Paula at the top of the UK all-time list, over 7.5 minutes ahead of Mara Yamauchi.

The marathon record marked the peak of Radcliffe’s career and no female British athlete has ever clocked a time near to it. To date only one woman, Brigid Kosgei, has beaten it although some quick half marathon performances by others suggest more might in the future.

1906 Boston winner was the youngest

This week in sports history had a few outstanding and crazy race wins. On April 16th 1906, the 10th Boston Marathon took place where Tim Ford, only 18 years of age, secured the win as the youngest winner! Ford clocked 2:45:45, which in today’s world is over 22 minutes slower than the fastest woman and almost 40 minutes slower than last year’s winner Lawrence Cherono from Kenya.

It was also 123 years ago on Sunday that the first ever Boston Marathon occurred back in 1897. The Boston Marathon was inspired by the success of the 1896 summer Olympics and is now considered the oldest marathon still taking place.

It was also seven years ago, in 2013, that the devastating and horrific Boston Marathon Bombings happened. The 15th of April, the day on which this occurred is now an official and permanent holiday known as “One Boston Day” which is dedicated to conducting random acts of kindness and helping one another out.

Whilst Wednesday of this week was spent by the majority of us at home, this too is something we are all doing to help each other and our fantastic NHS to fight coronavirus.

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