Betty Barber from the Heath Estate, Beeston has been running for so long now she can’t remember when she first started, but like thousands of other athletes this weekend she was denied the chance to pound the streets of the capital because of Covid.
Having secured a good for age place for Abbott’s World Marathon Majors at the Yorkshire Marathon in 2019 (4 Hours 35 minutes) which is well under the required time of 5 Hours, the 67 year old was looking forward to yet another challenge.
Betty has completed 4 Marathons and countless long distance runs and wasn’t going to miss out on this, so when the Virgin London Marathon decided to go virtual she donned her running shoes and got out on the streets of Leeds.
For Betty and the thousands of other runners Sunday 4 October 2020 was the big day, you could choose your own route, be it flat or hilly but you must cover the 26.2 miles.
One of the pluses of doing a Marathon is that the big crowds usually get you round, the cheering adds to the experience. So to do this alone with no cheering would be a big ask.
Luckily Betty is a member of South Leeds Lakers running club and had plenty of running partners on the day. Her long time running buddy Liz Clark did the first 7 miles, before friend Richard Haigh joined in to cover the middle section. Betty’s husband Ray covered the last 7 miles, himself a run leader at the Lakers.
Saturday’s rain had cleared up to leave a fairly warm Sunday for the occasion. Betty completed the 26.2 miles in a fantastic 5 Hours 34 Minutes. When asked why she liked running Betty replied “my motivation is the feel good factor at the end and a pot of coffee”. So Sunday’s coffee must’ve tasted good.
Congratulations and well done to all that completed the Virtual London Marathon, the ballots are open for next year so let’s hope it’s the real thing in 2022.
Photo: Betty running the 2016 Yorkshire marathon for the Stroke Association