With the London Marathon postponed and not really a lot of momentous plans in front of me I was in urgent need of a task to convert my energy into something that allows us to survive lockdown and summer break with a calm and grounded mother. A friend of mine told me from the virtual LEJOG challenge and without a lot of thinking I signed myself in.
LEJOG is the traversal of the whole length of the island of Great Britain between two end points, Land’s End in the southwest and John o‘ Groats in the northeast. The traditional distance by main roads is 874 miles (1’407 km). Because of the given circumstances you’re doing all the running and/or walking right in front of your doorstep and record the miles on a website. Each time you complete a distance you move along the virtual map from Land’s End to John O’Groats. You have six month to finish the distance, that means around 5 miles a day. Doable right? Especially when you have a dog how needs daily walks. On the website they mentioned that you’ll get a special certificate if you finish the distance in three months, that would mean around 10 miles a day…challenge accepted!
The record is nine days and 2 hours for the boys and twelve days and 30 minutes for the girls, set by Carla Molinaro, a British elite ultra runner on the 28th of July, yes exactly between my day 43 and 55. For my defense I didn’t need to drill through my toenails to relieve blisters and I didn’t have a support team offering massage, food and mental support and to be honest I’m just not able to run 73 miles a day. I’m completely awed and humbled by her performance!
Back to little ol’ me: I started at the 3rds of June and finished today on the 13th of august. It took me 72 day to cover the distance. I run 614 miles and walked 260 miles, that’s around 12 miles per day. I got every now and then a virtual postcard with the sights I passed and on the virtual map I could check my position and my progress. I really enjoyed doing this challenge, although I had sometimes the feeling that I’m not really moving forward and finally at around 700 miles the only thing I wanted is to arrive at John o’ Groats, but unfortunately 174 miles aren’t a stone’s throw… The virtual map supported and pushed me on my journey because you can see where the other participants are and what distances they covered, but on the other side it increased the pressure because I don’t like to be overtaken and left behind. But who cares at the end: it’s like running a marathon: it’s partly enjoyable, it’s partly achy and after the finish line there’s a huge smile on your face and you’re eying already with the next challenge. This challenge showed me what our body and mind is capable to do: waking up in the morning with heavy, aching legs and the feeling that nothing is possible today and shortly later you find yourself running another 12 miles. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to some rest days now, we’ll see how long I can resist.
Because I passed all the beautiful sights of England, Wales and Scotland only virtually I can’t share any pictures, only snapshots of my local runs. But I can imagine doing the LEJOG once in real, maybe with the bike to have at least one supporter…