Duncan Magnus said the idea for a virtual marathon came to him while he was mulling over the Boston Marathon, the prestige running event the Langley runner had qualified for, only to see it postponed because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“I was sitting at home Saturday night (April 18th) and thinking it sucks, not to be going to Boston,” Magnus related.
First run in 1897, the 42.2 kilomtre Boston Marathon is the oldest annual marathon in the world, held on Patriots Day, the third Monday of April, every year.
But with the novel coronavirus spreading through the United States and across the globe, marathon officials, along with state and local officials decided to postpone the race, scheduled for April 20th, until September 14th of this year.
Magnus wouldn’t be able to go in September.
The 124th Boston Marathon has been postponed – the @BAA understands the city's decision that the marathon cannot be held on April 20, and we offer our full support to take all efforts to postpone until September 14, 2020. Read more: https://t.co/CsnHNKOAZz pic.twitter.com/eBEGDM18FT
— Boston Marathon (@bostonmarathon) March 13, 2020
Months of training and countless kilometres of roadwork were, it seemed, all for nothing,
But then, inspiration struck.
His wife had done a “virtual marathon” once, which gave Magnus an idea. Why not hold an “at home” version of the Boston race?
He texted a fellow Langley runner Douglas Delipper, who had also qualified for Boston and was also having trouble staying motivated after the postponement was announced.
“That’s a little crazy,” Delipper recalled as his first reaction to the notion of a do-it-yourself marathon.
“Then I thought about it [and said] ‘let’s do it.’”
The very next day, on Sunday morning (April 19th) the two runners set out from their Willoughby neighborhood, near 73rd Avenue and 202nd Street, following a route that took them to Derby Reach Park, then the Fort to Fort Trail along the Fraser River to the Trinity Western University campus and back.
Since there would be no water or snack stations along the way, they carried what they needed in back packs.
Roughly three hours and 45 minutes later, they returned to their neighbourhood, where they were greeted by a small group of cheering friends and family membersas they crossedthe finish line and broke the tape simultaneously.
“We weren’t going for time,” Delipper explained, adding it was a pretty good performance “considering it came after two months of [virtually] no running.”
Magnussaid he was more tired than he expected to be, but happy to have done it.
“You can do something special even if you don’t do it the way you originally planned,” Magnus commented. commented.
At the end of their run, the two runners did a social-distancing version of a fist bump, carefully separated by several feet, and were presented with hand-crafted “at home Boston Marathon” medals made by their children.