2,568 laps at home to run the ‘London Marathon’

Athletes raise money for NHS by completing distance during virus lockdown

Thursday, 7th May 2020 — By Steve Barnett

Stephen O’Brennan

Stephen O’Brennan during the lockdown London Marathon

“TEAM Lockdown” athletes went the extra miles to raise thousands of pounds for the NHS by running the London Marathon at home.

Famous landmarks such as Tower Bridge became the kitchen fridge, while countless supporters cheering became a microwave as the iconic 26.2-mile challenge took on a much more familiar feeling.

Stephen O’Brennan and his fellow “marathon nutjobs”, who are all from Gospel Oak, Kentish Town and West Hampstead, have so far raised more than £5,500 for NHS Charities Together.

The legs and knee joints have barely recovered, but already there is talk of more “crazy plans” in the pipeline to raise money for other charities this summer.

“We don’t quite know what we’re going to do next, but we have come up with a few ideas already that we can do even if we’re still in lockdown,” admitted Stephen. “Running the marathon together in such a surreal way has created a really strong bond between all of us.

We’ve got use to talking every day and supporting each other during this pandemic.

“We want to keep that going, while also helping others along the way.”

Mr O’Brennan celebrating after completing the distance with son Vinnie, aged 3

Team Lockdown’s “marathon madness” took place on the last Sunday of April, coinciding with when the London Marathon was due to be held before it was pushed back to October because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Stephen ran 2,568 laps from his kitchen to his living room to lead the team home as he covered the distance in four hours, 56 minutes.

Meanwhile, teammates George Benson, Martin Lovejoy, Keith Carroll, Sam Robbins, Teddy Barham and Tim Uka all averaged around six-and-a-half hours.

“It’s just a crazy, special thing to have done,” added Stephen, a PE teacher at Holy Trinity Primary School in Chalk Farm. “It felt like the ultimate bleep test.”

Explaining how the idea came about, he said he was inspired by the Second World War veteran who has raised more than £32m for the NHS by walking laps of his garden.

Stephen said: “I was blown away by Colonel Tom Moore, who, at 100 years old, has captured the hearts of the country. I felt inspired and just had to do something.

“I knew the London Marathon was meant to be held on that Sunday, so I got in touch with a few friends and suggested running the same distance indoors and in our gardens. A few of them said I had lost the plot, but as soon as they heard it was to raise money for the NHS, they quickly came around to the idea.

“A majority of us like a good run but, in truth, none of us were prepared for a marathon.

“It was very surreal, I’m running back and forth for almost five hours, while my partner Eleni was moving around the house doing her usual things, and my little man Vinnie is watching cartoons.

“In the end Vinnie dressed up like a superhero and joined me for a few laps, but we all know everyone working in the NHS are the real heroes.”

Stephen and his crazy gang originally hoped to raise £1,000 for the NHS, but as the New Journal went to press, had passed £5,550.

Their JustGiving page is open until May 15, and anyone interested in donating can visit www.justgiving.com/team/lockdown26-2

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