If you’ve ever run a marathon, you’ll be familiar with that ‘this is going on forever’ feeling around the 25 mile mark. Yet for one runner, that really was the case, during the virtual London Marathon on Sunday 4 October.
Jodey Hopcroft was running the 26.2 mile race for multiple sclerosis charity MS-UK. Due to a bad GPS connection along the Norfolk coast, she ended up completing 49 miles.
Hopcroft said she realised within minutes of setting off that the GPS on her phone used for the Virgin Money London Marathon app tracking wasn’t working correctly. The app failed to record the first half mile of her run, from the Waxham Sands holiday park where she works.
However, as she did not have an alternative means of tracking her run, Hopcroft decided to continue, knowing that she would not qualify as finishing the run if she didn’t get to 26.2 miles on the app.
Speaking after her marathon effort, Hopcroft said, ‘Once I had started I could not stop. Everything would have been void and I would not have been registered as finishing. I had to keep going until the app registered I had done 26.2 miles.
‘I thought it would be fine when I set off, but the GPS is pretty bad around here, especially when you get mist and rain, so I should have realised there might be problems.
‘The app did recommend people used a secondary device, but I only downloaded it a few days before and I didn't have anything else to take with me so I was a bit naive.
‘In hindsight, I should have planned my route better in areas where there was decent reception. I should have driven in my car to start in Norwich or at least just walked towards there, so it was my fault I did not do that.
‘The rain was pouring down so hard that there were deep puddles which I couldn't avoid so it felt like I was walking in streams and I got really bad blisters.
‘Believe me there were a couple of times I did have a bit of a cry, I was just in agony.
‘But the app included messages of encouragement from Paula Radcliffe and Steve Cram every time it recorded a mile. I realised that I was doing a lot more than a mile between many of the messages, but they helped spur me on.’
Hopcroft said she broke into ‘hysterical laughter’ when she checked on an Ordnance Survey map and worked out how far she had gone.
A spokesperson for the Virgin Money London Marathon said: ‘We warmly congratulate Jodey for completing the virtual 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon.
‘We salute Jodey's strength, stamina and good humour and hope she raised plenty of money for MS-UK.’
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