The Virgin London Marathon in the time of COVID

Written by Philip Holmes on Wednesday 10th March 2021

The Virtual London Marathon 2021 and The Big Give

Background

The Virgin London Marathon has been a highlight in the running world's calendar since it was first run forty years ago on 29th March 1981. It has also been high on the charity fundraiser's priority list, with guaranteed "Golden Bond" and "Silver Bond" places highly sought after by runners who missed being allocated places through the public ballot. Each of these is offered in exchange for a pledge to raise around at least £2,000 (the amount varies from charity to charity), but in practice the average amount raised per Bond is £2,700. Unfortunately, this has been somewhat of a closed shop with only those charities that were registered when Bonds were first introduced being in receipt of an annual allocation. That means that Pipal Tree, which was registered in 2015, hasn't qualified for Bond places but that very unpopular and unfair arrangement has now been reviewed by the event organisers. From 2024 charities that have annual Bond allocations will see these reduced to allow newer charities a chance to apply for Bonds too. 

A survivor of the 2019 London Marathon

A survivor of the 2019 London Marathon

Personally, I never considered myself to be a "runner". My distance running career only really began when I turned fifty in 2010. That was only because my previous charity faced a funding squeeze following the austerity of the noughties. So, I grudgingly pledged to raise badly needed funds through running four 10km events around the world. At that time, 10km felt like a long way. In fact, after the first of the four races, in Hong Kong, I had to retire to my bed. In fairness though, it was an early start - in the dark with fireworks at 6 a.m. as I recall - to avoid the heat and humidity. The outcome of those four runs was that I raised an incredible £30,000! The following year, I felt that, in the light of this fundraising success, I had no choice but to run again, this time upping my game to run my first half-marathon (Silverstone race track) followed by the London Marathon. In honesty, I hated the Marathon as it was just such hard work. I don't remember any of the sights apart from the finish line and recall my sense of relief at crossing it. At the time, I said "never again", but the £11,000 I raised (some donor fatigue had set in!) meant that, upon reflection, I felt duty-bound to run London again in 2012. Maybe it was because I knew what to expect and had prepared and paced myself better, but that year I absolutely loved the event. And I raised just over £5,000.

Fast forward to 2019 (and skipping a memorable Paris Marathon in 2017) and, at the grand old age of 59, I ran my first-ever non-stop marathon in a personal best. I will never forget the last two or three miles of pain leavened by a certain geriatric smugness, as I trotted past other runners who were decades younger and walking or limping the final stretch. I guess I have now become a marathon-junkie!

Pipal Tree's involvement in the 2021 Virgin London Marathon

Pipal Tree's involvement in the 2021 Virgin London Marathon is going to be different for two main reasons:

Reason one:

This year's Marathon on the 3rd of October will be a hybrid event. It will be the biggest ever with up to 50,000 runners following the actual route in London and the same number running a virtual marathon wherever they are in the world. In these uncertain times, the latter figure remains a more predictable one. Of course, a virtual run is not the same as the real thing as participants miss out on running past iconic sights such as Cutty Sark and Big Ben and crossing a traffic-free Tower Bridge. And there won't be the added buzz that is always derived from the fellowship and good humour of thousands of other runners and the encouragement of the crowds - not to mention the odd bagpiper, brass band etc. But, virtual events can still be very rewarding. Last year, I ran the Bonn half-marathon, virtually, somewhat unconvinced beforehand. However, through an App I was able to receive a little cheer at each mile point, record a finish time and submit my own pictures. The London Marathon organisers also offer running vests and medals to all runners, including the virtual participants.

Pipal Tree has some guaranteed places in the virtual London Marathon. This offers the added attraction (!) of being able to join Pipal Tree co-Founders, my wife Bev and me, on the run. We will be tramping around Kingsbridge, south Devon, on the day. There certainly won't be any "PB's" ("personal bests") recorded as unlike the flat banks of the Thames, we will have to contend with those notorious Devon hills. Just email me if you would like to secure a place in return for a pledge to raise a minimum of £300 in sponsorship. That target should be achievable for most who undertake a marathon, if only on the basis of "sooner you than me"!

Reason two:

In these tough financial times, at Pipal Tree we are trying to extract the maximum value from every pound or dollar donated. We are doing that by making the maximum use of the Big Give donation platform that potentially allows gifts made online to be automatically doubled in value. Pipal Tree will be running four one-week-long Big Give appeals in 2021 (compared with three in 2020) giving our supporters the choice of programme that they would like to invest in. The appeal launch dates are:

Rather than raising marathon sponsorship through conventional fundraising platforms like JustGiving and Virgin MoneyGiving, which add no value apart from Gift Aid, we are suggesting that runners collect pledges that can be called forward when the above appeals go "live". That way the sponsorship is doubled in value, with Gift Aid added as well. To the best of my knowledge, no other charity offers this financial return on running effort!

You can see my pledge form here. If you would like us to help you set up something similar for this or another event, then just let me know. And please do become one of my pledgers, sharing the form with friends. Tomorrow is my birthday - hint, hint. 

Share this page:

Similar Articles

A new Trustee for Pipal Tree
A new Trustee for Pipal Tree

We are very pleased to welcome Mrs Rayner Rees as our sixth Trustee, bringing a wealth of experience in education and philanthropy to our Board.

9 Nov 2021

Our girls' refuge in Janakpur, southeast Nepal
Our girls' refuge in Janakpur, southeast Nepal

Since March 2021, in partnership with Our Sansar, we have been operating a girls' refuge in Janakpur, southeast Nepal. It is the only one of its kind in a region where gender-based violence is endemic.

28 Oct 2021

Tuition support to children at a leper colony in southeast Nepal
Tuition support to children at a leper colony in southeast Nepal

Pipal Tree is now funding educational support to children at a leper colony in southeast Nepal.

20 Oct 2021

Our award-winning reforestation project work in Nepal
Our award-winning reforestation project work in Nepal

Our colleagues at the Bhatighadi Community Forest Users' Group (CFUG) have been awarded the prestigious Ganeshman Singh Outstanding Forestry Award for 2020/2021

18 Oct 2021

The Pipal Tree Annual Dinner
The Pipal Tree Annual Dinner

Pipal Tree will be holding its annual charity dinner at the prestigious Victory Services Club on 30th November to coincide with the launch of our Big Give Christmas Appeal week.

6 Oct 2021

The Holy Island Marathon 2022
The Holy Island Marathon 2022

Pipal Tree is delighted to be able to offer two guaranteed places in the exclusive 2022 Holy Island Marathon - you can be one out of just 25 runners in return for raising (at least) £1,000 in sponsorship towards our Nepal projects.

5 Oct 2021

The Dhanushadham Bird Park
The Dhanushadham Bird Park

The Dhanushadham Bird Park is a new joint initiative by Pipal Tree and The Mithila Wildlife Trust through which we will merge art, education and the rapid-growth reforestation "Miyawaki Method" to create a forest that will provide a focus for birdlife, ecotourism - and inspiration for the next generation.

19 Sep 2021

Philip's Pennine Way Challenge
Philip's Pennine Way Challenge

Philip Holmes is inviting you to join him for a leg or more of his Pennine Way challenge in September 2022

17 Sep 2021

Using eco-brick technology in Nepal
Using eco-brick technology in Nepal

In our school capital development project in southeast Nepal, we are using eco-bricks to protect the environment, construct stronger and cooler buildings and reduce building costs.

31 Aug 2021

August 2021 update on our community reforestation projects in Nepal
August 2021 update on our community reforestation projects in Nepal

This is an update on our reforestation project that has become a highly successful model for engagement with the local community and the Department of Forestry in Nepal.

1 Aug 2021

A visit to Sarlahi, southeast Nepal
A visit to Sarlahi, southeast Nepal

Lily's Leaves' co-Founder, Lily Katuwal, visits Sarlahi District in July 2021 to assess needs and support vulnerable girls and young women.

28 Jul 2021

The 2021 Big Give Christmas Challenge
The 2021 Big Give Christmas Challenge

Pipal Tree is taking part in The Big Give Christmas Challenge 2021 - it's your opportunity to double or even quadruple the value of your gift in support of our Big plans in Nepal for 2022 and beyond.

18 Jul 2021

Pooling resources and combining fundraising efforts to get the job done in Nepal
Pooling resources and combining fundraising efforts to get the job done in Nepal

Pipal Tree has joined forces with Our Sansar and Guy's Trust to ensure that we met the needs of the poorest people during the latest COVID lockdown in Nepal

23 Jun 2021

Ready, steady, Offa we go.....
Ready, steady, Offa we go.....

My personal summer challenge to raise funds for Lily's Leaves in Nepal

18 Jun 2021

The summer 2021 Big Give appeal for Nepal
The summer 2021 Big Give appeal for Nepal

Pipal Tree offers you a chance to donate to either Education or Women's Empowerment projects (or both!) in Nepal with the chance of your online donation doubling in value through matching pledges available in The Big Give.

24 May 2021

"Our Finest Year" - Pipal Tree releases its 2020 annual report and accounts
"Our Finest Year" - Pipal Tree releases its 2020 annual report and accounts

In spite of the operational restrictions and financial downturn that came with COVID, 2020 was in many respects Pipal Tree's "finest year".

23 May 2021

The Pipal Tree Big Give emergency appeal for COVID relief in Nepal
The Pipal Tree Big Give emergency appeal for COVID relief in Nepal

Today Pipal Tree launches a one-week Big Give emergency relief appeal in response to the COVID pandemic in Nepal

13 May 2021

Actress and Pipal Tree Ambassador Amrita Acharia appeals for gifts towards COVID emergency relief in Nepal
Actress and Pipal Tree Ambassador Amrita Acharia appeals for gifts towards COVID emergency relief in Nepal

The actress Amrita Acharia, who has Ukrainian-Nepalese roots, appeals for donations towards a Pipal Tree appeal for emergency COVID relief in Nepal. Through The Big Give, all online donations can automatically double in value.

12 May 2021

Reforestation in Nepal
Reforestation in Nepal

Pipal Tree is working in collaboration with the Gemma and Chris McGough Charitable Foundation, the Nepal Department of Forests and the Mithila Wildlife Trust to restore a community forest at Bhatighadi, Dhanusha District, southeast Nepal.

29 Apr 2021

Remembering Nepal in your will
Remembering Nepal in your will

When writing or updating your will, please remember Pipal Tree's work in Nepal that you can support as an enduring legacy.

28 Apr 2021

Supporting Lily's Leaves through The Big Give
Supporting Lily's Leaves through The Big Give

We are inviting your support through The Big Give to Lily's Leaves, our partner social enterprise in Nepal. A Kathmandu project, this wonderful new initiative is already making a difference to the lives of vulnerable young women - female empowerment in action!

22 Apr 2021

From Tragedy to Trustee
From Tragedy to Trustee

Teacher and teacher-trainer Caroline Milne joined our Board of Trustees in October 2020. She brings a wealth of experience within the education sector to the table, but also a compassion and commitment that has been forged and focussed through a tragedy in her own life.

18 Mar 2021

A three-legged stool
A three-legged stool

Our ambitious new school project in south Nepal blends three of our core interests into one harmonious plan

6 Mar 2021

Support to a Madrasa
Support to a Madrasa

I was very pleased to receive these pictures this morning of our school extension project underway, as implemented by our local partner NGO, the Mithila Wildlife Trust.

8 Feb 2021