Richmond Park – our lockdown haven!

Running Highlights of 2020

This time last year, blissfully unaware of what was to come, we posted our running goals for 2020. Looking back now we realise how race-orientated these were – running specific events, qualifying for others, obtaining official times. However, with the race calendar decimated by Covid 19, many of our plans for the year had to be abandoned and goals changed.

2020 became the year of non-official runs, the year of virtual events and the year in which, although we greatly missed travelling and meeting people, we found a freedom to run in different ways and to explore places closer to home.

Among the lessons we learnt during this very difficult year was a reminder that, whereas setting SMART running goals maybe a useful and motivating exercise, the ability to be flexible and change goals when circumstances change is also important. Never more so than in 2020. 

Despite all the difficulties that 2020 threw at us, had we, at the beginning of the year, added a goal to enjoy our running, then this we would have achieved. 

Not so many races and ‘in person’ events, not so much travelling and meeting up with friends face to face, but still so many good times.

Here are some of our running highlights of the year. We have both chosen our top five runs, in chronological order; we’ve added other running-related highlights; and finally we’ve tried once again to set goals for 2021.

Jacquie’s top five runs

  1. Treasure Coast – March 1st and the  year got off to such a good start in sunny Florida. Little did we know then that this would be the only international marathon of 2020 – but what a brilliant one it was. 
  2. Lewa Virtual Marathon – At the end of the Spring lockdown our first virtual race and it felt like Cam and I had Richmond Park to ourselves. Ok, so it wasn’t Kenya but we had plenty of wildlife surrounding us.
  3.  Loch Muick trail – A spur-of-the-moment decision to take advantage of the removal of restrictions and pay a visit to Scotland gave me the opportunity to run around the stunning Loch Muick. Positioned in the Balmoral estate, the loch is a favourite with the Royal family.
  4. Battersea 10K – During Lockdown I made the decision to start working with a running coach. I was concerned that as an older runner I wasn’t getting the right balance between training and recovery . My first goal was to improve my 10K time. I had a target race which unfortunately was cancelled at the last minute. I had done the training so on the day of the race I went to a very foggy Battersea Park, with Cam and Cal for support, to try a fast 10k. My goal was 50:30- 51:30. My time was 50:07 thanks to perfect pacing and lots of encouragement from my support team!
  5. Runthrough Goodwood Marathon – After my 10k success I was about to start marathon training when the chance to run an actual race on the Goodwood motor race track came up. I couldn’t resist giving it a try. Having promised to go out easy I ran at what felt like a comfortable pace (until the last of 11 laps) and was delighted to finish in 4:03 – a time which left me ending the (not-as-competitive-as-usual) year in 3rd place for my age group in the UK.
Top: Category winners at Treasure Coast Marathon, Foggy day at Battersea 10k, View over Loch Muick

Bottom: Local wildlife at Lewa Virtual Marathon, Finishing straight at Goodwood Track Marathon

Cam’s top five runs

  1. Lucca parkrun, Italy – In this lovely setting I felt good running and my second best 5k time was enough to earn me first female. A perfect weekend.
  2. Treasure Coast Marathon, USA – Florida, sunshine and a rare official race in 2020.
  3. Pembroke Athletica Fly-past Relay – Early on in lockdown when we were all feeling a bit lost, PA member Michael devised this amazing relay which took in most of PA member’s homes. With distanced waves or FaceTime handovers and progress updates on social media, we all felt a bit more connected for the day.
  4. Boston Virtual Marathon – I qualified to take part in the Boston Marathon and by virtue of this virtual event I get to wear the shirt.
  5. London Virtual Marathon – a great day out in London seeing so many other virtual runners going in all different directions. A unique experience.

Top: Cam and Mark at Lucca parkrun, Celebrating after Treasure Coast Marathon, A well earned Boston shirt gets an outing.

Bottom: A virtual handover during PA relay, Photoshoot at start of London Virtual Marathon

Other highlights of the year

As always with running a lot of the pleasure we obtain comes from the people we’ve met along the way. Even though this year we could not meet up so often these other runners still managed to contribute towards some of the special moments of 2020. Here are just a few!

  • Pembroke Athletica (our parkrun coffee crew) have as always made their contribution. From Fly-past relays, to 24hr virtual VLM charity events, virtual coffee mornings to longest-day cocktails, Christmas challenges to zoom quiz nights, they have been there every step of the way with their good humour, amazing organisational skills and of course excellent running ability (at a suitable distance, naturally) to help us through.
  • Some friends were closer to hand than others when it came to actually running what could have been lonely non-event miles. Jarryd and Jain featured frequently in our runs – some close to home on the closed roads of Richmond Park and others further away in the wilds of the countryside. Thank you for your company.
  • We missed meeting up with our Comrades friends this year as the Comrades Marathon was one of the casualties of the virus. A picnic on Clapham Common with some of the crew was so welcome and helped to keep us going until June 2021.
  • There are many people who featured regularly in our running adventures who we have not been able to see this year and have missed so much. Jon Evans was a frequent visitor to our home in London until he was locked down in Wales for most of the year. Not-parkrun Skype coffee mornings helped to keep us all in touch. It’s good to know that Jon is well and happy – we can’t wait to meet up again.
  • The Goodwood Marathon, in December, has already been mentioned earlier in this post. A very welcome, though brief, return to racing for us all. It was good to see so many friends there but a special mention has to go to our own Calum who ran an amazing 3:28 in only his second marathon and to his friend Dawood, new to running in lockdown, who also completed the event. What a great achievement!
  • Finally a special mention to someone who we have never met, but hopefully will in 2021, Lee Dixon (son of Gary – need we say more) provided a year long ‘highlight’ by running 5k every day in memory of his friend Dan who tragically died of cancer. Lee, before this a non-runner, decided to run to raise money for Macmillan Nurses who looked after Dan and his family during his illness. We all know, as runners, how difficult it is to go out day after day. We think this is a wonderful tribute to a very dearly missed friend. (just giving) A sad but uplifting end to our highlights.

Goals for 2021

It wouldn’t be the start of a new year without setting some new goals. Let’s hope this year we manage to achieve them!


Cam’s Goals for 2021
  1. Sub-20min 5k – chip timed, and eventually at a parkrun
  2. Championship qualifier for London – 3:14
  3. An international race weekend with all the team, where everyone can run an event (get training, Ciara!)
  4. Sub-9hr at Comrades
  5. 200 marathons for my 35th birthday in New York
Jacquie’s Goals for 2021
  1. Sub-4hr marathon – qualifier for Comrades
  2. Finish my 6th Comrades
  3. Get 80% age grading at all distances
  4. Record 300 active days on Strava
  5. Enjoy my running!

Special thanks

  • To the Mantle / Crosfield family (in particular Reg) – For every time that we bump into you on the river path – always so happy and positive. You definitely brighten up West London running! And congratulations on all your incredible achievements this year. Takes a bunch of nutters to know a bunch of nutters!
  • To RunThrough – For working so hard to allow us to ‘race race’ many times this year. Was much needed and gratefully appreciated
  • To the SVP crew – For a long but fun day in August that we will not forget, even with the restrictions you put on an amazing event.
  • To everyone who took the time to vote for us in The Running Awards – we were very honoured to have been nominated
  • To all the race directors/organisers who have had what must have been a tough year. It wasn’t always clear what to do or how to please everyone but you have managed to make re-arrangements and put together virtual events for us which we will remember forever.
  • Finally to our dear PA. When this group was formed 10 years ago it was merely a bunch of (slightly mismatched) individuals who enjoyed a coffee after parkrun each Saturday. Over the the years we have become a family and 2020 could not have made that more clear. On a weekly basis you lift our spirits and continue to help us to make memories – your enthusiasm and willingness to take on new challenges make you even more special. We could not love you anymore!

Happy New Year

To all our running friends who although we have kept in regular contact with, we miss dearly. You continue to remind us how lucky we are, even through a year like the one we have had. When we meet again, it will be amazing! Wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2021.