Forget the London Marathon – three friends plan their own run through Bognor Regis

Three runners, who have been training together since January, were so disappointed when the marathons they had signed up for were cancelled that they decided to hold their own race through Bognor Regis instead.

Karen Vilday, Natalie Tribe and  Marzena Sowinska
Karen Vilday, Natalie Tribe and Marzena Sowinska

Friends Natalie Tribe, Karen Vilday and Marzena Sowinska had hoped to run the Brighton Marathon and London Marathon together in April – but both events were cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis.

It was rescheduled for October and so the trio started up their training again in June – only to discover it had been cancelled yet again.

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By this point, they were completing 20-mile running sessions and, according to their calculations, had run a total of 906 miles together over the course of the year.

The trio have been training together all year

Natalie, 38, said: “We thought, we’ve come this far again – let’s just carry on. We decided to do our own one.”

Their 26.2 mile route for the event this Saturday starts at the pink pub in Chichester Road and will take them on a big loop through Tangmere and Hotham Park and finally to the Waverley in Bognor Regis, were they will meet for a celebration with family and friends. “We are hoping to get some support along the way,” Natalie said.

The trio, who all live in the town, usually run with Bognor Regis Tone Zone running group, which Natalie has been a part of for eight or nine years.

But with its twice-weekly group runs suspended due to the pandemic, the three friends have banded together to keep each other motivated.

Natalie said: “It’s been really nice.”

While the situation could have got them down, she said: “We’ve been keeping each other up.”

The events this year would have been Natalie’s first ever marathons. She said she had been trying to win a place on the London Marathon for eight years and was delighted to finally get a spot for 2020.

Instead, they will take part in the postponed races in 2021 – meaning the marathon this weekend will be their first of three in 12 months.

They have decided not to try and raise funds with the race through Bognor as it was planned quite last minute – and will instead support a charitable cause during the official races next year.

As Saturday draws nearer, Natalie said she was ‘excited’ but growing increasingly nervous.

“I didn’t think I would be,” she said.

“It’s not an official one. But the closer it gets, the more nervous we’re getting!”