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2021 London Virtual Marathon Runners Stories

The 2021 London Marathon was held as actual and virtual runs on Sunday 3rd October. BAAC had at least 21 runners, 17 in the actual race and four in the virtual race. Their results are in the table below with some stories further down the page.

BA Team Runner Number Virtual? Official Time Comment
Mike Dennison 27524 03:27:09 See story below
Frankie Hogge 49930 03:31:20 See Hogge
story below
Murray Hogge 49929 03:31:20
Maria Jovani 27002 03:38:05 See story below
Emma Moreton 49454 03:47:20 See story below
Fraser Cameron 50089 03:47:48
Steve Barrington 49518 03:54:27
Victoria Balandis 49795 04:04:57
Chris Rattenbury 49351 04:05:50 See story below
Tim Bellars 49712 04:17:07 See story below
Stephen Taylor 21941 04:17:22
Piers Keenleyside 49140 04:25:02 See story below
David Williams 49991 05:05:55
Trish McCabe V4784 virtual 05:18:25 Ran with Faithe Cockroft who recorded 5:56:24
Sarah Freeman Smith 49650 05:28:57 See story below
Mark Murphy 49324 05:34:46
Jagjit Singh 49960 05:36:54
Kelly Davis 49232 06:26:24
Petra Otto V20336 virtual 11:21:11 Active time 7:52:56
Melanie Miller V19764 virtual 07:59:35 Out of signal range. See story below
Chris Kelly V6622 virtual 12:09:50 Before, during and after volunteer shift.

London Marathon MedalsMike Dennison

My first London Marathon, and second actual marathon. My Seville time (3:34) gave me a good for age time that got me the place in London 2020, then deferred to 2021. This was a better run than Seville, in that I managed to keep a reasonable pace to the end rather than having to walk, although I did have brief walks at 2 or 3 water stations towards the end, in order to be able to drink more comfortably, and I'd planned to do this ahead of time. I was pleased to be several minutes faster, finishing in 3:27:09, and be under 3:30, which was my main goal!

The second medal is for the Age Grade World Championships, and was given to good for age qualifiers over 40 - we had to run with a second race bib on our backs for this one!"


Sarah Freeman Smith

VLM 03 October 2021

Well, this was my first London Marathon although I felt as if I’d been training for it for years with all the Covid related postponements.

I travelled up the day before from the South Coast and stayed just a ten-minute walk from the start.

My day began at 2am when I woke up hungry and sat and ate two thirds of a tin of rice pudding – an extra bit of nutrition couldn’t have done any harm could it?

Having dozed off again I was up at 6.30 ready for breakfast – a giant pot of Oats-so-Simple porridge with half a tin of cream. This would have to be ‘breakfast round one’ as during training I’d be out running within half an hour of eating and my start time for today was a very late 10.45am.
I had it all planned; I made up another pot of porridge AND took the remains of the rice pudding AND cream to the Blue Start where I made myself eat the whole lot half an hour before my allotted start time. I have to say I felt rather ‘full’ but rather that than not have the energy to get round.

My Hoodie was discarded for recycling as I joined the thousand or so other runners in Wave 16.

I was neither nervous, nor particularly excited just very happy to finally be at the start of what I intended to be a brilliant, enjoyable day no matter how I got on.

I ran the first 13 miles, absolutely loving the crowds, the music, the banners, shouts, cheers and ‘touch to power up’ boards of which I made good use of course!

After that my knees started to cause a problem. It had started a few weeks prior to the Marathon but I’d rested them well and decided I’d walk if I had to.  In the event, I did ‘speed’ walk and run the second half with massive encouragement from the spectators and noticeably the BA Marshalling team.

I think I was enjoying the general atmosphere so much, running alongside the Statue of Liberty, overtaking a Rhino and darting round the fan tails of a couple of peacocks that I somehow missed Big Ben and the London Eye.  On the plus side I did ‘notice’ Billingsgate Fish Market as I stopped to plaster a niggling toe! I can’t decide whether or not I was pleased to be unaware of the clown pursuing me which was highlighted by one of the official photographers? I suspect if I’d known I wouldn’t have been seen for dust and I’d probably have won the marathon!!
As it was, I didn’t come first. I was very happy completing it in just under 5.5 hours even though I’d walked as much as I did.

Low point was dropping my own plastic water bottle lid next to a Buxton water station, momentarily panicking over something that really didn’t matter, and having a water marshal scrabble through the hundreds of dropped ‘empties’ to find MY lid – huge relief!!

High point – two little boys handing me an orange ice pop just at the right moment!

Wearing my name on my vest was a definite ‘plus’ with the spectators encouraging me every step of the way and with all the yells of ‘well done Sarah’ and ‘you can do this’ from the crowds my ‘grown up’ niece turned to my Sister and shouted ‘I didn’t know Auntie Sarah had that many friends!!

Loved every minute. Absolutely brilliant! 

Sarah Freeman Smith

Chris Rattenbury

The Start

I managed to get my dad to drop me off as close to the blue start as he could. After negotiating my way to the start, up hill and across grass, I felt like I had done a cross-country race as a warm up!

The people at the start kindly started me 40 minutes earlier after noticing I was a tad cold.

The Marathon

I found the first few miles pretty quick, despite having to dodge people and making sure I didn’t run them over in my chair. People were superb and kind at moving out of my way especially on the downhills. The other runners were incredibly supportive and encouraging. I cannot thank them enough.

When it came to Canary Wharf, I found the wind a bit of a challenge and certainly slowed me down a bit.

The crowds were amazing and a fabulous atmosphere.

The last few miles, were fairly tough and not as flat as I thought it might be, by the time I got to the embankment, I was ready for the finish.

The Finish

I had a sense of huge pride and achievement coming down The Mall knowing I had finally achieved something that had alluded me for a few attempts.

I would like to thank BAAC and especially Mike Thorn for helping me achieve this goal and I could not have achieved it without the chance they gave me to enter their ballot.

Chris Rattenbury

Tim Bellars

This was my third London Marathon and my slowest! Back in 2002 I ran 3:27, 20 years later I did 4:17. I guess a loss of 50 minutes over 20 years isn’t bad but before COVID lockdowns I was consistently running sub 4 hours.

As previously stated in other articles I just didn’t do enough training partly due to lack of motivation and partly due to my fall from height in July which set my training back a month. Running Brighton marathon 3 weeks earlier didn’t help too!

I started well in great conditions and maintained a good pace. The atmosphere was fantastic and a refreshing change to numerous other marathons I have run that have little or no support outside the towns. I starting feeling a little uncomfortable after 10 miles but was able to achieve half way in 1:56 which is my normal pace. By the time I got to Docklands the pain was really starting to kick in. My calf muscles were really burning which distracted me from my aching knees! With 10k to go I just ground out the next six miles. I was so happy to turn the corner at Parliament Square and see the BA marshals. 

When I crossed the finish line I made my way home straight away. A couple of beers on the train and a hot shower at home and I felt ok again. Sorry no pictures of me as I had no support as Nance was marshalling!

Looking back I really enjoyed the day and was so happy to finish before the rain!

Thanks to everyone who made it possible for me. 



MHogges at the finishurray and Frankie Hogge

We rocked up to the green start at around 8.30 and stood around nervously for an hour before our wave broke onto the streets.

The first 13 miles passed by in a blur, both of us were feeling good (in fact it was my second fastest half marathon ever - 1:38!!). The crowds and support were amazing - we had our names on our matching Cancer Research vests so people knew we were a double act and our names got called every few seconds the entire way. It was unbelievably motivating!

Once we hit Narrow Street things began to get a little more difficult. Let’s just say the second half was my slowest half marathon ever…

But with the amazing support, we just about managed to hit our 3 hour 30 target (we missed it by 1min 20secs) and crossed the line together, tired and emotional.

It was my first marathon and dad’s first for a while and it was the best day ever. 



Emma Moreton

This was my 7th marathon but first London Marathon. I was so nervous on the morning of 3rd October, perhaps because the big day had finally come after 18 months of waiting and on/off training.

I planned to run at a comfortable pace and not be consumed by any targets as I wanted to soak up the atmosphere and sights of the capital. The weather was ideal and the first 10k flew by. I knew I was going a bit too fast but the crowds were spurring me on, especially by the Cutty Sark. It wasn't long before Tower Bridge was approaching where I would see my family but I didn't spot them and felt really disappointed and deflated (running over Tower Bridge was fantastic however).

I called my husband Ryan as I ran on and he said they had seen me but I was looking the wrong way and they would definitely see me again around mile 22. Around this point I realised I had run a potential half marathon personal best and was feeling like I should slow down a bit. However, the crowds had other ideas and kept me going and smiling!

I did manage to spot my family at mile 23 (after another phone call to confirm exact location!!) and I stopped for a quick hug and to appreciate the detailed posters my children had made. Ryan told me I was on for a good time and I realised I had a generous 45 minutes to finish the last 3 miles to get a sub-4.

Although my legs were feeling very heavy, "just a parkrun to go" was do-able and I looked forward to seeing the BA/SRG crew further on. The crowds were utterly fantastic for the remainder of the course - the noise was unreal. I was delighted to see the friendly faces of the BA/SRG marshals and I soon turned the coveted corner to The Mall. The clouds had parted, the sky was blue. I looked up at the flags and felt a sense of relief, accomplishment and gratitude. I crossed the line with a PB of 03:47 which I didn't think I would ever achieve (it also means I may get a GFA place for 2022 even though I was planning to marshal!!).

TThank you to everyone who supported me along the way and of course all the volunteers. I feel privileged to have completed the world's most iconic marathon. I also raised £1,800 for the British Heart Foundation. 

Emma Moreton

Piers Keenleyside

I set my alarm for 5:45 on the morning of the marathon and had an hour to get dressed, have breakfast and jog over to Ealing Green to join other Ealing Eagles on a coach laid on by the club to take us to the start. I arrived with a couple of minutes to spare and the coach left on time at 6:45.

We had an uneventful journey and arrived at Blackheath shortly after 7:30 where we had a group photo taken:

A rather scruffy lot as there was no bag drop at the start this year – any warm clothes worn before the start would have to be just thrown away!

Piers and JagjitI walked from the coach drop to the red start and wandered around looking for familiar faces and found fellow BA A.C. runner Jagjit Singh.

We have run over 500 marathons between the two of us – I’ve now done 173 and Jagjit over 340.

They don’t get any easier – especially when you are in your 60s! The weather was at least dry – unlike the day before when it rained most of the day. My start wave was #6 and we got called to the start at about 10am. My plan was to try and do a sub 2 hour half and then hang on for as long as possible at the same pace for the rest of the race in the hope of doing a sub 4:30.

As we set off I didn’t feel that confident and struggled to get close to a 9 minute mile pace – only 4 years ago I was able to do sub 7:30 minute mile pace at the start and finished in 3:23. Was on track only for the first 5K which I did in 28:11. After this I slowed by about a minute each 5K but was feeling quite comfortable after about 10 miles when this picture was taken:

But when I got to half way in 2:04:19 I knew getting under 4:30 was not that certain. I plodded on and meandered around Canary Wharf – which played havoc with the GPS tracks and added over half a mile to the recorded final distance! At mile 23 I high-fived a couple of Ealing Eagles supporters and tried to up my pace which was now down to around 33 minutes for each 5K – so over 10:30 minute miles. A ‘Clif’ double espresso gel helped up my energy levels but just allowed me to maintain my pace rather than increase it. The end was close and I now passed the crossing points manned by BA volunteers and saw a few familiar faces. Soon I was turning the corner in front of Buckingham Palace where I crossed the line in an official time of 4:24:59.

As I staggered along to find my bag (dropped at the Expo several days earlier) a medic noticed I was a bit off colour and guided my into one of their tents. After a few sips of water I was promptly sick! It seems I was dehydrated having not taken on enough water. I was then plied with an electrolyte drink and stayed with them under observation for the next 45 minutes. As luck would have it I was still in the tent when there was a sudden sharp shower at about 3pm which I was quite glad about!

Will probably give London a miss in 2022 but hope to be back in 2023 if I can get a sub 4:00 Good For Age (65-69) between 20th March and 7th August next year. Some hard training ahead!

Piers Keenleyside

Melanie Miller

Had a great day running in The New Forest unfortunately though I couldn’t activate The Official App as I just ‘app-ened to be outta signal range.  Wos a tough one though much harder than The London Marathon and had to bear the brunt of all weathers starting in the sunshine finishing in the pelting rain (it could not have rained harder) still got the job done.

Well done to everybody who completed actually/virtually.

Melanie Miller

Maria Jovani

London Marathon 2021 done and dusted in 3:38:05. It was an epic morning in London. The weather conditions were perfect for runners, spectators and volunteers too. It was a shame about the lack of Prosecco stations on the course, something that should be addressed to the race organisers.

My intention was to use the race as a long run for Valencia Marathon in December and practice the nutrition for race day. The plan I had in mind was to run for 20-22 miles at a steady pace and walk or jog the rest of the course. Even the most optimistic of my predictions didn’t expect the time I achieved. As you can imagine I was elated with the result. I’ve got London GFA sorted for next year and I’ve got a BQ too.

Lots of support from family, friends, running buddies and the London crowds. I loved every minute of it.

Next stop is the Cabbage Patch 10 in less than two weeks time. Bring it on.

Maria Jovani



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