HAVING run the race 25 times before this year, it is safe to say Louise Blizzard has seen most things the London Marathon can throw at athletes.

However, her 26th attempt at the race was long nothing she has ever experienced before.

Gone were the mass starts in Blackheath and the cheering throngs of supporters lining the capital’s streets before that famous finishing stretch on The Mall as the 2020 event was restricted to elite runners only due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Warrington Athletics Club’s Blizzard was one of thousands of runners who took part in a ‘virtual’ London Marathon race at different points around the country.

Despite picking up an injury close to the end, she put in a pretty impressive display, too at the Dorney Lake Marathon in Windsor.

“I ran the distance in 3hours 16mins 54secs – my quickest time for four years,” she said.

“I was over the moon, especially as my calf went at 23 miles. I had to hobble and jog the last 5k!

“The weather conditions were challenging – heavy rain, strong winds and chilly to start with. I even wore hat and gloves for 20 miles until I’d warmed up!

“It was a COVID-safe event with no spectators allowed, setting off at individual start times over a two-hour time period in the morning.

“I just feel very lucky to have been able to run a race in the current climate and the fact it registers as my virtual London Marathon makes it really special. I really enjoyed it too.

“It was amazing seeing so many people running their virtual London Marathons all around the country and the world.

“It was wonderful seeing all their pictures and listening to their experiences and all the money that was still able to be raised for charities.”

Since running her first London Marathon in 1994, Houghton Green native Blizzard has missed the race just once.

It was originally thought her 26th outing would be a women’s record but alas, that is now not the case.

Still, though, the 45-year-old is aiming to be back on a more familiar course for attempt number 27 next year.

“Unfortunately it’s not a record as another lady has come forward who has stated she has run 29 London Marathons,” she explained.

“This is currently being verified, but I will keep going as long as I can!”

Blizzard was joined in the virtual race by Warrington clubmate Steve Watmough, who ran superbly to win the M55 age group by clocking a time of 2hours 45mins 59secs.

Elsewhere, several youngsters had their first outings in Warrington Athletics Club colours at Saturday's Trafford Athletics Club open meeting.

The mixed age 600 metres series saw Euan Lawton and Iris Hurst taking huge chunks out of their personal best times.

Euan finished fourth in his race in 1min 56.95secs – nine seconds quicker than his previous best – while Iris did even better as her time of 2mins 7.65secs was a whopping 16 seconds faster than she had run before.

That time was good enough for fourth place behind fellow debutants Eva Hayes (seventh) and Sophie Parkinson (ninth).

Annie Noone and Allanah Donlan also made their debuts over 600m in a separate race, finishing 10th and 12th respectively.

Warrington Guardian:

Annie Noone and Allanah Donlan

Under 17s runner Lisa Halliday was fourth in the 200m hurdles while Ellie Barker set a new best time of 22.73secs in the under 13s 150m race.