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Queens Park Harriers hold virtual relay to mark their London Marathon tradition

PUBLISHED: 10:47 29 April 2020 | UPDATED: 10:47 29 April 2020

Bill O'Connor, 74, has competed in every London Marathon since the event started in 1980

Bill O'Connor, 74, has competed in every London Marathon since the event started in 1980

PA Wire/PA Images

Queens Park Harriers took part in a virtual relay on what would have been London Marathon day on Sunday.

Queens Park Harriers took part in a virtual relay on the day of the postponed London MarathonQueens Park Harriers took part in a virtual relay on the day of the postponed London Marathon

Members young, old, fast and slow traditionally run 400m legs around the track the Tuesday before the big race, but could not this year due to the lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sam Sutherland and Sophie Barnard decided to support and facilitate a virtual relay, observing social distancing rules, and 63 members took part, some in couples and some as families, to cover 0.41 miles each!

All submitted times on the Garmin and Strava apps to be verified, with lots dressing up and recording videos on a beautiful day.

The squad included long-standing club stalwart Bill O’Connor, who is one of only 10 runners to have taken part in the London Marathon every year since the very first one in 1981.

Queens Park Harriers held a virtual relay on the day of the London MarathonQueens Park Harriers held a virtual relay on the day of the London Marathon

O’Connor should have been running his 40th London Marathon with his fellow ever-presents but played his role for Harriers in his local park as they managed a combined time of three hours and 56 minutes.

Speaking of his London Marathon experiences, he said: “The first was a cool day with a slight drizzle, perfect conditions for racing, but there were not the restrictions around the course there are today.

“People stood in the road or walked across in front of you! Distance markers were every five miles but there were no clocks that I can remember.

“Probably the highest buildings in London at that time were St Paul’s Cathedral and the Post Office Tower. Canary Wharf and all those high building in Docklands didn’t exist.

Queens Park Harriers held a virtual relay on the day of the London MarathonQueens Park Harriers held a virtual relay on the day of the London Marathon

“For about the seven miles in that area we saw practically nobody, now it is crowded. Approximately 20,000 applied and 7.500 started. The medal was the size of a two pence coin made out of pewter.

“In 1981 we finished on Constitution Hill along the side of Buckingham Palace just before Hyde Park Corner. In 1982 the finish was moved to Westminster Bridge and all the finishing photographs had Big Ben in them.

“About 20 years ago, increasing numbers and congestion around Westminster Bridge resulted in the finishing line being moved to The Mall.

“I was looking forward to the 40th London last Sunday. It is always a good day and the organisation of the race is amazing. Every year London Marathon comes up with a new idea to improve some aspect of the race – they are to be commended for their detail planning.

Queens Park Harriers took part in a virtual relay on the day of the London MarathonQueens Park Harriers took part in a virtual relay on the day of the London Marathon

“Having seen the race grow from an idea to the amazing event it now is for the country you have to marvel at what has been achieved.”

Queens Park Harriers took part in a virtual relay on the day of the London MarathonQueens Park Harriers took part in a virtual relay on the day of the London Marathon

Queens Park Harriers took part in a virtual relay on the day of the London MarathonQueens Park Harriers took part in a virtual relay on the day of the London Marathon

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Queens Park Harriers took part in a virtual relay on the day of the London MarathonQueens Park Harriers took part in a virtual relay on the day of the London Marathon

Members of Queens Park Harriers took part in a virtual relay on the day of the postponed London MarathonMembers of Queens Park Harriers took part in a virtual relay on the day of the postponed London Marathon

Members of Queens Park Harriers took part in a virtual relay on the day of the postponed London MarathonMembers of Queens Park Harriers took part in a virtual relay on the day of the postponed London Marathon

Members of Queens Park Harriers took part in a virtual relay on the day of the postponed London MarathonMembers of Queens Park Harriers took part in a virtual relay on the day of the postponed London Marathon

Members of Queens Park Harriers took part in a virtual relay on the day of the postponed London MarathonMembers of Queens Park Harriers took part in a virtual relay on the day of the postponed London Marathon

Members of Queens Park Harriers took part in a virtual relay on the day of the postponed London MarathonMembers of Queens Park Harriers took part in a virtual relay on the day of the postponed London Marathon


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