What is the London marathon, really? Is it a test of physical preparedness? Or a chance for people to show that they are mentally tough enough to deal with the training required to run 26.2 miles? Maybe it is a great way to honour a relative that has passed away and perhaps raise some money for charity at the same time. Or is it a last gasp attempt to show the world – to show each other – that there are still people who are not steering a course to becoming obese couch potatoes with an incurable addiction to TV and takeaways?
Actually I think that the London marathon – and indeed all races like it (and most of the ones unlike it) – is all of the things I have mentioned and more. It is, in fact, a collection of 38,000 motivations and reasons, flowing like a river of determination and good intentions and pride, through the capital. My reasons for running the London this year include wanting to run with a friend, give my training for a summer of ultras a kick up the backside and prove to myself that I have not yet passed the point of no return fitness-wise. Last year I was out to prove what an ex-fat smoker can do and to see – really see – what I can capable of.
But like the sweat on the runners’ brows and the puddles of energy drink on the roads, all of the reasons and motivations evaporate after the race has been done and leave no trace, other than in the hearts of the people who ran the miles and those they told about ‘why’ and ‘how’.
Now, however, the Virgin Money London Marathon has created a space where runners can tell their stories and leave a slightly more permanent, albeit online, record. Extra Mile is the official runner’s website of the London and is encouraging runners to record their race through a couple of competitions. Ultimately extramile.co.uk is looking to create a record of the stories behind the £50m raised every year by the London marathon.
How can you get involved?
There are two opportunities for runners to get involved in Extra Mile:
On race day, extramile.co.uk is inviting marathon runners to take a photo of themselves at the end of the race with their medal. All photos shared on twitter or Instagram with the #finisher and #extramile hashtags will be entered into a competition to win a UK weekend break where sore legs will be rejuvinated… hopefully it won’t be a walking trip to the Lake District!
The #superfan campaign is a chance for supporters to show how they go the #extramile. Come Sunday, anyone on the sidelines has the opportunity to share their race day photographs via Twitter or Instagram and potentially earn £1,000 for a chosen charity OR a place in the 2015 Virgin Money London Marathon – so they can experience the race for themselves. All you or your supporters have to do is upload pics to twitter or Instagram and tag them with #extramile and #superfan, so that they appear on the extramile twitter timeline. If you want to know if you have won, @VirginMoney will have the winners. You have until Monday 21st April at 23.59pm to get your photos into the draw.
As I am sure everyone who reads this realises, I love stories. After all that is why Julie and I launched Like the Wind magazine. This is another great outlet for people to tell their VMLM story and hopefully inspire others to get involved and create their own running tales.