Woman accidentally walks 49 miles for London Marathon after GPS stops working

Woman accidentally walks 49 miles for London Marathon after GPS stops working


A woman ended up walking 49 miles to complete her own virtual London Marathon after the GPS on her app stopped working.

Jodey Hopcroft, 38, was among 38,000 amateurs entered into this year’s event who used the Virgin Money London Marathon app to track their own individual routes.

But poor GPS reception on her mobile phone around her home on the north Norfolk coast meant that the app worked only intermittently.

Jodey ended up walking for more than 15 hours before the app finally registered that she had gone the official marathon distance of 26.2 miles.

When she returned home tired and exhausted, she studied a map and found that she had actually travelled 49 miles.

The app enabled London Marathon runners to complete their own routes after coronavirus forced the cancellation of this year’s event on the streets of the capital.

Jodey realised that it was not working properly within minutes of setting off when it failed to record her first half a mile, travelling down the drive from the Waxham Sands holiday park where she works.

But she was determined to carry on in the wind and rain because she could only qualify for a digital certificate and medal if the app recorded her doing the full 26.2 miles.

She also did not want to let down her sponsors who were donating more than £2,100 to multiple sclerosis charity MS-UK in return for her finishing the race.

It was the fifth year in a row that she had completed the London Marathon. Last year she ran it in London in around five and a half hours, but this year she decided to walk the entire distance as she had not trained properly due to fears that the event might not take place.

Jodey whose family run Waxham Sands kept checking the app when it was clear it was only intermittently registering her distance.

But she said: “Once I had started I could not stop. Everything would have been void and I would not have been registered as finishing. I had to keep going until the app registered I had done 26.2 miles.

“I thought it would be fine when I set off, but the GPS is pretty bad around here, especially when you get mist and rain, so I should have realised there might be problems.

“It wasn’t the app’s fault that it was only registering every now and then. The problem is that I was doing it on an area of the Norfolk coast with rubbish GPS.

“The app did recommend people used a secondary device, but I only downloaded it a few days before and I didn’t have anything else to take with me so I was a bit naive.

“In hindsight, I should have planned my route better in areas where there was decent reception. I should have driven in my car to start in Norwich or at least just walked towards there, so it was my fault I did not do that.

“The rain was pouring down so hard that there were deep puddles which I couldn’t avoid so it felt like I was walking in streams and I got really bad blisters.

“Believe me there were a couple of times I did have a bit of a cry, I was just in agony.

“But the app included messages of encouragement from Paula Radcliffe and Steve Cram every time it recorded a mile. I realised that I was doing a lot more than a mile between many of the messages, but they helped spur me on.”

Jodey had set off at 4.45am on the day of the marathon on October 4, so she could get back in time to wave goodbye to long term campers leaving the holiday park on the last day of the season.

She was briefly ready to throw in the towel when she had completed around 20 miles, and the app only showed that she had done 13 miles.

But she said: “I just had to carry on. My goal is to do seven or eight marathons in a row and I wouldn’t have counted as finishing this year if the app had not recorded me.”

Her route took her on multiple laps of the holiday park as well as the nearby villages of Martham, Hemsby, Somerton, Sea Palling and Hickling.

Jodey was cheered on her route by family and friends sending motivational texts and videos.

She finally clocked the full distance outside the camp shop at 7pm, nearly seven hours after her planned finishing time.

Jodey said she collapsed into “hysterical laughter” when she checked on an Ordnance Survey map and found how far she had gone.

She said: “It is just so funny that I went so far. I never thought it would be that distance.

“The rain and cold and blisters were unbelievable, but it is a huge sense of achievement. I am 100% going to do it next year. Hopefully I will be running for the same charity.”

A spokesperson for the Virgin Money London Marathon said: “We warmly congratulate Jodey for completing the virtual 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon.

“As we couldn’t hold the event in London as normal this year, we invited participants to run the London Marathon – Your Way, from wherever they were in the world.

“More than 38,000 people completed the challenge, from Australia to California, but we doubt there were many that ran as far as Jodey did – she certainly did it her way.

“We did brief all runners to carry a secondary device as back up for recording their time and warned them that there may be areas of their chosen route where GPS would not function.

“We salute Jodey’s strength, stamina and good humour and hope she raised plenty of money for MS-UK.”


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