Optometrist runs landmark metric marathon

Posted: Saturday 02 May 2020

On the day she should have been joining more than 40,000 others on the streets of London to run 26.2 miles, Elaine McKechnie found herself running alone through deserted Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead instead.

Keen not to let her training go to waste, Elaine, 42, decided to run a ‘metric’ marathon – 26.2 kilometres (16.3 miles) – taking in sections of the Great North Run course and many of Newcastle and Gateshead’s iconic sites.

Elaine said: “I’d been trying to get into the London Marathon for 10 years. Last year, I ran a good enough time in my age group at the Manchester Marathon to get myself a place in London for 2020. Initially, I was really gutted when the coronavirus outbreak meant it was going to be postponed, but keeping everyone safe is the most important thing right now.

“I usually run several times a week with my local club, Gosforth Harriers, which I’ve really missed being able to do recently. As I’d been training since January for the marathon, I didn’t want that to go to waste. I thought a metric marathon would be good idea – I’d not done that distance before, so it would be a new challenge, and it fitted nicely with the 2.6 concept.”

Elaine, who works as a self-employed optometrist, chose to support the Macular Society in memory of her late Nana, Verne Kirton, who had age-related macular degeneration, and sadly passed away in 2014, aged 92.

Elaine said: “It’s been in my mind for a number years to do some fundraising for the Macular Society. I’ve worked as an optometrist, both in independent community practice and in hospitals and I’ve regularly heard lots of positive feedback about the Society and its work.

“And I was really happy to have the opportunity to do some fundraising because of Nana. She had lost her hearing at quite a young age, and then sadly she developed macular disease as well. It had a devastating impact on her vision and left her with very poor sight. But she was brilliant – she kept her sense of humour throughout, and she still had great stories and always made us laugh.”

Starting and finishing in Gosforth Central Park, Elaine’s route saw her taking in Jesmond Dene, the Quayside, Gateshead Stadium, St James’ Park, the Tyne Bridge, Grey’s Monument and the Town Moor, completing the run in just under two hours and 45 minutes.

Elaine said: “I wanted to try and cover lots of the places people are familiar with on the run and make sure I followed all the guidelines around social distancing. It was really quite eerie, running alone through streets that would normally be bustling and there wasn’t a soul to be seen anywhere.

“The support I’ve had has been overwhelming, especially at a time when lots of people are furloughed or self-employed like myself and not working. But people have still given so generously and I’m really grateful for their support. Initially, I’d only set a target of £126.20, but when I passed that, I increased it to £262. In the end, I’ve managed to more than double that as well and have raised £554 so far. I’m going to keep my JustGiving page open a bit longer to see if I can raise a bit more before I hand the money over.”

To sponsor Elaine, visit her Justgiving page.  

The 2.6 Challenge closes on Sunday 3 May. If you'd like to take part in a fundraiser of your own