For the last 40 years one event has united our country every spring like no other.
A sporting spectacle that transcends the physical, brings strong men to their knees, allows winners and the last to finish of thousands, to be counted on the same list of results, wear with pride the same medal.
Originally an athletic aim, it’s no longer a race but a phenomenon that’s inspired millions, from young to old, from the fittest to the not so fit but determined, the less physically able and disabled, from celebrities to too many bobbing heads to name individually. Thousands more have volunteered, spectated, supported through donations, watched live on television – all in some way a part of the magic that is the London Marathon.
What an awesome and moving vision it is – the nation’s collective challenge of 26.2 miles. More than 400,00 signed up for the ballot for this year’s 40th anniversary event, 40,000 were successful.
But this spring of 2020 is like no other has been – the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic has destroyed whatever concept we had of how we use our time, how we participate in or support things that are meaningful, important, our expectations crushed.
It’s from these crushed dreams, the trodden down but still strong grass roots of the passion running inspires, that the Mighty Green idea of a 26.2 Challenge took seed and has begun to grow.
We might be at home isolated, socially distant, but internet, social media, mobile phone, radio and TV shows how we can still come together, meet on a massed start line, from the comfort of our armchair even, be a part of something bigger, something that unites.
That’s the idea of the 26.2 challenge – choose something to do 26 times, fitting within 26.2 minutes.
• It could be physical: do a series of exercises, lunges, squats, press-ups, HIT workouts, home spin-biking, treadmill or rowing.
• Practical: bake 26 of something, scones can be made from scratch to lifted fresh from the oven inside 26 minutes, sew on 26 buttons, iron 26 items of laundry, wash 26 dishes.
• Educational and creative: learn 26 words of a new language, write the first 26 sentences of a novel, play 26 instruments, sing a line of 26 different songs; listen online to the songs of 26 birds.
• Indulgent: eat 26 pieces of chocolate (small ones!).
• Random: come up with your own crazy, wonderful, thoughtful 26 choices.
And we weren’t alone in having great ideas. The team at Virgin Money London Marathon came up with the 2.6 challenge to help plug the gap of £66.4 million that is generated for charities by the London Marathon each year. Why not use their website to create a fundraising page to raise even more money?
These things can be done on your own, or in a shared collective way through use of live video link ups with like-minded friends, family, club members, among charity supporters. Like the marathon fancy dress optional but go for it if you want to!
The unifying moment of this 26.2 challenge, is to time your start from what would have been the start time of the 2020 London Marathon. That countdown moment when thousands would be standing nervously on the start line, the atmosphere tangible through TV sets for the thousands more watching at home.
You’ll be in a virtual link up with like-minded people, creating a spirit that will unify for those 26.2 minutes, everyone crossing this finish line together – all winners.
With the loss of income for many charities in these challenging times, and no sponsored organised mass events – including running marathons able to take place – making a donation to your own favourite charity, or seeking support from friends, family would be a wonderful part of your 26.2 Challenge. Even giving a small amount, multiplied many times sums will add up, you choose the charity you want to benefit.
Selfies, videos, how much you’ve donated, sharing on social media all to be encouraged under the hashtag #26point2
The point to (.2) respond to a crisis that’s disrupting our lives on the scale of Covid-19, not just with high hopes, but with marathon hopes of better future springs for all.
Hoping the Sidmouth Mighty Greens will get behind this idea and other running clubs, non-runners too, anyone and everyone who can. From an idea shared and refined within the running club committee.