Back in March 2020, Tara Wheatley (an RNC student at the time) and her guide runner Tim Broome completed their longest marathon training run to date: 22.5 miles in under 4 hours. Months earlier – before the pandemic was even known about – they had signed up to run the Virgin London Marathon (VLM) to raise funds for the Royal National College’s sister charity, Blindcare.
They were training hard when things changed almost overnight for the whole world and consequently, the 2020 VLM was postponed and then run virtually later that year, although Tara was forced to defer due to injury.
‘That last training run had put us nicely in position to finish around the 4-hour 30-minute mark,’ explains Tim. ‘So the timing of the lockdown was a real shame because we had been on track for a good run. And as we all now know, a lot has happened (or not happened) since then!’
Experts hope that the worst of the pandemic and its associated restrictions are behind us so mass participation running events are slowly starting to reopen. Tara and Tim have booked places in the Farnborough Half Marathon on July 11, 2021 and Tim says:
‘This will help us get back on track with the training and we’ll continue to enter a few more running events up until the big day in London.’
‘My visual impairment means that I rely on Tim to give me verbal cues and reassurance when we are running together,’ explains Tara. ‘We sometimes run in a front-to-back position as I can use my useful vision to follow him, rather than being tethered. The London Marathon is obviously a busy, chaotic and daunting environment for any low vision runner. However, my confidence, ability and trust in Tim will guide me around.’
The VLM is happening on Saturday 3 October, as long as the pandemic doesn’t adversely affect the schedules, with 50,000 expected to run in London and another 50,000 running elsewhere, Tim and Tara could be part of a new world record for a mass participation marathon race.
Tara has a fundraising target of £3000 for her debut London Marathon run. If you can help her reach her goal, please visit Tara’s fundraising page here: Virgin Money Giving | 2021 Virgin London Marathon – https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?userUrl=TaraWheatley&pageUrl=1