Quinton makes mark in solo marathon as East London Runners run ‘virtual’ races

PUBLISHED: 14:00 08 May 2020

East London Runners' Paul Quinton

East London Runners' Paul Quinton


East London Runners have been able to complete ‘virtual’ races during the UK lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

East London Runners' Grant ConwayEast London Runners' Grant Conway

Paul Quinton was due to run an ultra hilly road race over 35 miles in Cape Town, but instead ran a solo marathon in the UK having completed 11 weeks of training, averaging 75 miles per week.

“I was probably in the best shape of my life and didn’t want all that training and fitness to go to waste,” he said.

After settling on a 2.4-mile loop around Hackney Marshes and carrying out a test run of the route, placing water bottles on a wall along the way, Quinton set off at 6.55am to avoid the hottest and busiest time of day.

“Standing there alone on the ‘start line’ in my ELR vest, with 26.2 miles of solo racing in front of me, the thought did come into my head ‘what are you doing, you don’t need to do this’.

East London Runners' Antonio RomeroEast London Runners' Antonio Romero

“Thankfully I ignored that thought and set off.”

Quinton set off at a pace faster than his current marathon best and stuck to it until the midway mark, monitoring his heart rate, and when he got to 20 miles was on course.

“I’ve raced enough marathons to know it can all go very wrong, very quickly in that last six miles as it has for me many times in the past,” he added.

“But I was more confident because I had been training for an ultra, I’d done the distance in training 4-5 times, including one 49k run and a few weekends in a row of three hours or more on the Saturday and 90 minutes to two hours on the Sunday.

East London Runners' Anna DingleEast London Runners' Anna Dingle

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“I was mentally and physically ready for this, I might never get an opportunity like this again.”

Although fatigue was setting in after 23 miles, Quinton upped the pace in the last 2k, which proved his fastest of the day as he recorded a first-ever negative split marathon (81.24/80.20) in 14 attempts.

“I made sure to see 42.2k click over on my watch before stopping it. I’m not ashamed to admit I got a little emotional and there were a few tears. Strangely, I think having no crowd support and no other runners racing with me worked in my favour.

“There was less pressure. I had done all my longest runs on my own and this was just like one of those, only a lot faster. It’s not on any official race results, but I’ll never forget the day I ran a solo marathon PB.”

Clubmate Grant Conway completed a seven-mile course in Hainault Forest on a cool Friday in a course best of 58 minutes, beating his old mark by five minutes, and boosting morale for a 10-mile run with 1,000 feet elevation.

Unable to go out for a run in his native Spain for nearly three weeks, Antonio Romero has had to stay in his garden.

After completing a 10k in 35.59 took on the half marathon distance and said: “As I was feeling good, I changed the pace and finished it in 1:11.53. Every time I go out to my garden, my mind thinks i am running outdoors!”

Anna Dingle was due to complete three events to raise money for St Wilfrid’s Hospice, who supported her late mum.

To replace the Spitfire Scramble, she ran an Ironman VR duathlon covering a 1.5k run, 20k bike ride and 5k run, raising £665, and if the Ride 100 is also cancelled, she will complete the distance on her turbo at home in one session, with only toilet breaks allowed.

If the Swim Serpentine in September cannot go ahead, Dingle will come up with an alternative triathlon and said: “I’m very aware that people have already sponsored me for the three challenges and I need to honour my commitment to taking part and raising the money.

“My mum would’ve told me I was bonkers, but I also know she would be proud of what I’m trying to do and grateful for the donations.”

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