A Hemel Hempstead resident didn’t let COVID-19 put a halt to his plans to run the Boston Marathon, even though it was cancelled due to the pandemic.
Chris Fleming ran the Manchester Marathon, where he set a time that qualified him to run in Boston, USA.
When the Boston Marathon got cancelled due to COVID-19, he decided to set up a Virtual Boston Marathon and run the 26.1 miles in town on September 13.
On the day, Chris was joined by other fellow runners, some ran with him the whole way through and others joined him along the way.
Chris’s wife, Jacqui, said: “With a handmade ‘start’ sign, handmade vest numbers, strategically delivered bottles of juice and bananas, he ran round Hemel accompanied the whole time by someone. Some ran, some cycled, some waved and tooted. Kids held encouraging signs and delivered the all-important jelly babies. All socially distanced of course.”
Chris, 51, was happy that on the day many other people joined him in his personal challenge.
He said: “I was amazed that so many people wanted to take part, just because they wanted to help me achieve a personal goal. It made the run more like a real race day experience. Everyone else shared my excitement for what was going on and that gave me a real buzz.
“Finishing meant I earned a Boston Marathon 2020 t-shirt and medal, which I will cherish as a reminder that I was good enough to be invited to the start line of one of the most prestigious marathons in the world because I was good enough, even if I didn’t actually set foot on it.”
Though towards the end the challenges of the run started to become apparent, Chris was glad to have made it to the finish line.
“It made me feel so special crossing the finish line in Gadebridge Park covered in balloons, with confetti canons going off and everyone cheering. I have to give a special mention to Joe Lannigan-Coyte, who joined the runners at the 12-mile point and cycled all the way to the finish. He was dressed in a pink tutu, wearing pink glittery fairy wings, a flamingo hat, wearing a sign telling motorists to “Honk for Flembo”, blowing a whistle, playing music from a Bluetooth speaker and shooting us with a super-soaker.
“He made everyone’s day by taking our mind of the endurance of the run, giving us laughs and drumming up support from complete strangers as we went.
“I said so much to thank individuals on the day. They are the greatest bunch of people anyone could wish to have as their friends. It was such a pleasure to run with each of them. They made up for the fact I was missing out on a big event and made it a special memorable day for me. Thanks doesn’t seem enough and I can’t thank them enough for what they did.
“No marathon is easy, but I’ve never given up and I’m so glad I ran through the pain all the way to the end, especially as my friends had something special lined up for me there.”