Author Topic: Walking the 2020 London Marathon  (Read 173 times)


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Walking the 2020 London Marathon
« on: 13:02:50, 05/10/20 »
Yesterday, I completed the official London Marathon as a walker. The weather wasn't great, but I managed to take a few photos along the way - and they'll go to waste if I don't do a write up. So here it is...  ;) 

Every cloud has a silver lining and the pandemic provided a once in a lifetime opportunity to take part in the 2020 London Marathon. Even better was the opportunity to do it on a route of your own choosing, which allowed me to avoid being anywhere near to anyone else - a true solo walk. Or, at least it should have, but more on that in a moment!

I decided to use my two favourite off-road trails - the North Downs Way and the Crab and Winkle Way - so that no navigation would be required and I picked my starting point on the NDW to be exactly 26.2 miles from home. Getting my daughter to drive me there to arrive at 9am completed the plan.  :)

I'd been watching the weather forecast for days and it didn't change from an unappealing prediction of rain all day long. It turned out a little better than expected though, with the rain gradually easing as the day went on. There had been very heavy rain overnight however, so the ground (mostly chalk and clay) was very wet, slippery and muddy. Boots would have helped in that respect, but I wanted to treat this as a race against myself so I chose my fastest walking shoes with waterproof socks!

The walk began from a lay-by on the A20 near Lenham from where a muddy path led up to the Lenham chalk cross and the North Downs Way:

While much of the way involved going around or splashing through puddles, some was on really nice cinder paths. I took this photo to show a typical bit of the NDW at its best:

I'd originally planned this to be a truly solo walk, but about a week ago I discovered that a four-mile section near Charing (about four miles into my walk) was being used for another quite separate marathon. So for about an hour, I joined dozens of others going the same way - albeit a bit faster! It turned out to be a very pleasant part of the day because of the friendliness and camaraderie of the runners.

The route was a mixture of woodland and farmland walking, with the latter looking benign but in reality being wet, sticky clay:

I love the setting at Eastwell, near Ashford. This is Lake House, a 13th century manor house by Eastwell Lake - even on a rainy day it looks amazing:

I've taken photos from this spot many times. I've just walked from right-to-left past the farmhouse below and up a very steep path onto the North Downs. I take a photo here as an excuse to get my breath back!

Up on the downs, the North Downs Way passes through the very extensive Kings Wood. The second photo is where we do annual pilgrimages to see the incredible displays of bluebells: 

This photo shows what the path was often like. The reddish-brown stuff by the tree is a huge growth of fungus:

Kings Wood comes to an end near the village of Chilham and the path descends very steeply here for about 200 yards. The surface of the path is bare, smooth chalk, which yesterday was extremely slippery. I decided to jog down carefully rather than walk because it's safer, but as the slope eased I slowed to a walk... and slipped and fell almost immediately. Fortunately, there was no real damage and the pain in my leg quickly disappeared - only to return later that evening!

Ahead is a hill somewhere between Old Wives Lees and Chartham Hatch. It's only a short climb, but it's very hard work - especially about 13 miles or so into a walk:

A little further on, I passed through a vast fruit farm where the ground was especially slippery. The hill in the far distance in the first photo is the next steep part of the route. It's not too bad by comparison with what has gone before though, and after that the going is relatively easy:   

This is No Man's Orchard near Chartham Hatch. There's still about 8 miles to go, but I'm back in very familiar territory now so this is the last photo I took:

My wife had run the marathon earlier and was using the Marathon app to track my progress. As I was nearing home, she came out to meet me... and insisted I pose for the official app photo!  :)

I rate that walk as probably the toughest I've done so far. I'd set myself a target time and I was determined to be within it, which meant trying to travel as fast as possible the whole way over often very difficult terrain. I admit to having jogged a bit, but that was mostly on downhill sections towards the end and anyway,  I was wearing waterproofs and carrying a backpack, so it doesn't count as running!  ;)


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Re: Walking the 2020 London Marathon
« Reply #1 on: 17:34:22, 05/10/20 »
Lovely photos .
And very good description and geography of your route .
You are lucky to live in a nice part of the country.
It was surprising you met other marathon runners around the four mile marker ,and had a friendly chat and the banter is just the thing to take your mind off the Distance .
But as you were up for it and took on the challenge as a solo walker it all worked out as planned .
Did you take on plenty of Hydration drinks
And energy snacks .
Hope your leg Injury is recovering .
It certainly was a memorable day for you and your wife .
One you will not forget .
Well done once again .


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Re: Walking the 2020 London Marathon
« Reply #2 on: 18:55:07, 05/10/20 »
...Did you take on plenty of Hydration drinks And energy snacks .

Thanks again Zizag.  :)

Regarding drinks and snacks...

I don't stop to eat and I've become a fan of energy and protein bars. Yesterday, I took two OTE Sports energy bars, an OTE Duo bar, two small flapjacks and an energy gel. My drinks bottles contained an SiS cola/coffee tablet for sweat replacement - and my caffeine requirements!  ;)