A London marathon runner has revealed she walked for nearly 50 miles because of poor GPS signal during this year’s virtual event.
Jodey Hopcroft, 38, used the Virgin Money London Marathon app to monitor her progress as she walked a 26.2-mile route near her home in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.
The five-time marathon runner set off in the rain at 4.45am on October 4, expecting to be back in time for lunch.
But poor GPS reception on her mobile phone around her home on the north Norfolk coast meant that the app worked only intermittently.
Jodey Hopcroft, 38, from Great Yarmouth on the Norfolk coast ended up walking from 4.45am until 7pm after her phone lost GPS signal during the virtual London marathon
The five-time marathon runner set off in the rain at 4.45am on October 4, expecting to be back in time for lunch
Ms Hopcroft 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 – 22.8 miles longer than the course distance.
Ms Hopcroft realised that the app not working properly within minutes of setting off when it failed to register her half-a-mile-long drive at the Waxham Sands holiday park where she works.
She later checked in with the app, expecting to have covered around 20 miles but it had only counted 13 miles.
The determined marathoner carried 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.
Ms Hopcroft finishes her virtual race in darkness after walking 49 miles instead of 26.2 miles because the event’s official app to record her progress did not work properly on the part of the north Norfolk coast where she lives
She kept going because she 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
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.
Ms Hopcroft 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.’
Many miles, blisters and tears later, the app finally clocked the official marathon distance of 26.2 miles at around 7pm that evening.
Later on, when she checked her route on a map and realised she had walked about 49 miles and said she erupted into hysterical laughter.
She walked for nearly 50 miles due to a problem with the official Virgin Money London Marathon app she downloaded to record her performance
Ms Hopcroft realised that the app not tracking her distance properly but carried on in order that the app recorded an official race result for her of 26.2 miles. This was Jodey’s fifth London marathon (pictured left and right in previous years)
Over the long and painful route she had covered multiple laps of her family campsite as well as the seaside towns and villages of Martham, Hemsby, Somerton, Sea Palling and Hickling.
Ms Hopcroft admitted she was ready to throw the towel in at some points as she was ‘in agony’ with blisters on her feet but was cheered on by family and friends along her route.
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.’
A spokesperson for the Virgin Money London Marathon said: ‘We warmly congratulate Ms Hopcroft for completing the virtual 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon.
Afterwards, when she checked her route on a map, she realised she had walked about 49 miles and said she erupted into hysterical laughter
‘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.’
It was Ms Hopcroft’s fifth time in a row running the London Marathon and it is her goal to do seven or eight marathons in a row.
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.