On Sunday 4 October, more than 36,000 participants completed the first-ever virtual Virgin Money London Marathon.

While the elite races were taking place on a closed-loop biosecure course in St James’s Park, people from 109 countries set out to make history in the world’s largest event of its kind.

The 40th Race in the London Marathon’s history will live long in the memory of thousands of UK runners, as they battled Storm Alex’s high winds and heavy rain to complete their own socially distanced 26.2 miles in the allotted 24-hour time frame – many with the incentive of raising much-needed funds for their chosen charities.

First-time marathon runner Jasmine Barnett (29), and her husband, Ashley, were on holiday in Devon for their virtual Virgin Money London Marathon. She said: “We started just after midnight because we were too excited to sleep. This was not only my first marathon but also my first-ever running event… we took it very steady.” Jasmine was due to run the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon but was unable to take part after being diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia shortly before the race. Now cancer-free, she has been fundraising for the charity Leukaemia Care.

On Sunday 4 October, more than 36,000 participants completed the first-ever virtual Virgin Money London Marathon.

While the elite races were taking place on a closed-loop biosecure course in St James’s Park, people from 109 countries set out to make history in the world’s largest event of its kind.

The 40th Race in the London Marathon’s history will live long in the memory of thousands of UK runners, as they battled Storm Alex’s high winds and heavy rain to complete their own socially distanced 26.2 miles in the allotted 24-hour time frame – many with the incentive of raising much-needed funds for their chosen charities.

First-time marathon runner Jasmine Barnett (29), and her husband, Ashley, were on holiday in Devon for their virtual Virgin Money London Marathon. She said: “We started just after midnight because we were too excited to sleep. This was not only my first marathon but also my first-ever running event… we took it very steady.” Jasmine was due to run the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon but was unable to take part after being diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia shortly before the race. Now cancer-free, she has been fundraising for the charity Leukaemia Care.

At the other end of the marathon spectrum is 62-year-old Chris Finill, who completed his 40th London Marathon at the Top Gear race track to cement his place once again as an ‘Ever Present’ – one of a group of men who have completed every single race since the event began in 1981. He said: “Although there was less atmosphere and no famous London landmarks this remained as memorable as any of the other 39 London Marathons I have run. I’m going to celebrate with a large glass of red wine with my wife, Julia, when the medal arrives. Like me, she has been to all 40 London Marathons either as a supporter, medal hanger or (twice) as a participant.”

Fellow London Marathon veteran, Barbara Ralph, from Buckinghamshire, ran her 30th London Marathon in the Chiltern Hills surrounded by friends and neighbours who came out to cheer her on – at a social distance of course. She said: “I missed the London crowds cheering me on, however the support from friends and neighbours, plus from those who ran with me, was overwhelming. My husband John put up posters to encourage people to come out and support me which, amazingly, in the awful conditions they did.”

Meanwhile, running convert Marcus Brown ran a personal best yesterday to qualify for a 2021 Good for Age place, a target he’s been chasing for some time. Marcus ran his first London Marathon in 4 hours 55 minutes. Yesterday, he completed his virtual London Marathon in 2:56:19. He said: “Yesterday I was targeting a sub three-hour marathon. I finally achieved it after several tries. Running is a positive for my overall wellbeing and the lessons it’s taught me transfer over into the rest of my life.” He has been raising money for the charity Sands (the Stillbirth & Neonatal Death Charity).

Finally, Simon Gallo (61) completed his virtual Virgin Money London Marathon with a hero’s welcome in front of the NHS hospital in Ipswich that successfully treated him for Covid-19 earlier this year. Although not able to run his 25th consecutive London Marathon, Simon walked the majority of the 26.2 miles and said: “I was very slow as I can’t run yet but I was unexpectedly joined by friends and colleagues. These wonderful people [the NHS staff] who devote their lives to caring for us, had passed the word around, rallied their troops and waited outside their department in the rain for an old puffing geezer to finally make it across a Finish Line – their rainbow zebra crossing. Humbled beyond words, I was applauded and presented with chocolates and flowers – for the first time in my life.”

A truly unique and special day for the thousands who took part. For those inspired to take part next year, the 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon ballot is now open.