Charity chef takes on epic challenge in the world of virtual running

Posted by Oliver on 11/12/20 in Articles, VfL News and Events

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V for Life chef, Alex Connell, is making his way virtually from Lands' End to John O'Groats to raise awareness of isolation among older people.

Having set off on 26 October, at 875 miles, this will be Alex’s longest ever run.

Starting in Cornwall, Alex will be running (and walking) the length of the country, briefly crossing the border into Wales then back to England, before crossing the Scotland border and venturing on to the final destination at the very top of Great Britain.

Alex said: “I’m not going to actually be in either Lands’ End or John O’Groats – this is a virtual run. I will certainly run and walk the 875 miles, but only close to my home here in Manchester. Hopefully I should be able to finish my journey by February 2021.

“Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual running events have become popular. The basic idea is that you run or walk whatever the specified distance, time, or even elevation is. Distances are measured by apps on a phone or sports watch. Generally, a Facebook page will be set up, which allows competitors to chat to each and share experiences. After the event, participation medals are posted out. A degree of trust is assumed, i.e. that the person submitting the time was the actual person that took part or did not ride a bike!

“Inspired by V for Life’s work to support isolated older vegans and vegetarians, I’ll be heading up a virtual A30 approaching Okehampton, along with over 1,000 other participants. After each run I enter the distance and my little marker moves forward. The rules are simple: you can run or walk and have 1 year to complete. For those wanting a gold medal this must be completed within 3 months, averaging 10 miles every day (ish).”

Along the way, Alex has been enjoying some regional dishes to keep him fuelled.

Alex told us: "Passing through Cornwall and Devon were great excuses to eat cream teas. I don't get into the debate of which order the jam and cream go; just enjoy the treat."

“Crossing the River Severn and entering Wales meant that it was time to enjoy some bara brith, with lots of calories and carbs; perfect for running.” 

“I've also treated myself to a good leek soup,” Alex said, “because eating a balanced diet is key to good health. Soup will also help with hydration".

Chef Alex has been running for a decade now, starting around his 40th birthday. Initially aiming for a half-marathon, Alex quickly set his sights on a full 26.2 mile marathon, and he hasn’t looked back.

With running events all over the world cancelled this past year, including the 2020 Manchester Marathon, Alex was undeterred and decided to run his own marathon in his garden. Seven hundred laps and 5½ hours later, Alex crossed the toilet roll finish line in first place.

Follow his progress online here. Alex can be found by searching 'Alex Connell' under map 'LEJOG 7'. 

Although V for Life chefs such as Alex aren’t able to visit people personally at the moment, they can tailor online cookery demonstrations or cook-alongs for groups of older adults. Like virtual running, virtual demos come with added benefits – such as not having to leave your own home to participate. Click here or call 0161 257 0887 to find out more.


V for Life’s other services include a veggie pen- and phone-pals scheme; a virtual lunch club; and grants to support independent living. Visit vegetarianforlife.org.uk for further details.


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