Jonathan Winter from Dundonald completed the Virtual London Marathon on Sunday 4th October 2020. Instead of crossing the finish line on The Mall in London, he chose to complete his race on the iconic mile-long approach to Parliament Buildings at Stormont.
This year, coronavirus restrictions meant that only the elite athletes were allowed to complete the course in London which left 45,000 others to complete a 26.2 mile route closer to their own homes.
Jonathan who trains and coaches at Scrabo Striders Running Club, Newtownards, began his race at home in Dundonald, running along the old Belfast Road and Comber Greenway before finishing on the Stormont estate. Jonathan raised more than £2,000 for overseas aid agency, Christian Aid Ireland.
It was the first marathon for the father-of-two:
“I was involved in athletics when I was younger but hadn’t done anything for many years until three years ago when I did the ‘couch to 5k’ for my own well-being. I was bitten by the bug and returned to running and joined the Scrabo Striders. I’m disappointed to have missed out on the atmosphere of the big event but I’m glad to have got it done and to have raised money for Christian Aid. It was very challenging, so I would like to thank the other members of Scrabo Striders who came out to encourage me, and some even ran parts of the route with me.”
Jonathan has already signed up to complete the Dublin marathon in 2021 so it will be the following year before he can complete the London event but Christian Aid has promised to hold his place until then. And he recalls his excitement at receiving the news that he’d won a coveted spot on the famous London race:
“I’d already lost out on the public ballot so when I got the call to say that I’d secured a place with Christian Aid, I was delighted – I was buzzing all day.”
Originally from Surrey in England, Jonathan spent 13 years doing humanitarian and missionary work in the Philippines where he met his wife Raynalyne. The couple and their two teenage children settled in Dundonald six years ago. The family have an association with Word International Ministries of Migrant Churches and Jonathan works for Faith Mission Bookshops, Ireland.
Rosamond Bennett, Chief Executive of Christian Aid Ireland thanked Jonathan for the commitment he showed to his training and fundraising:
“We are full of admiration for Jonathan. Running a marathon is feat of endurance at the best of times, with thousands of other competitors and crowds of onlookers to keep your spirits up. But Jonathan has shown real determination by completing the course without that kind of support.
“It is only with the kindness of people like Jonathan Winter that we are able to reach the world’s poorest people and bring them hope.”
If you would like to sponsor Jonathan, you can visit his fundraising page here.