BACK in those stifling times of lockdown, when you basically sat staring at the walls until your jowls quaked with boredom, the health and fitness gurus among us advocated doing something that would get you out of breath to help raise the morale. For some folk, it was easier to just start smoking.
Others, of course, had a bit more pith and vinegar about them. For Allan Todd, the senior assistant professional at grand old Prestwick Golf Club, the restrictions of 2020 were far from, well, restrictive. Todd started running. And, a bit like Forrest Gump, he kept on running.
All of this pounding culminated in the 32-year-old completing the Virtual London Marathon last weekend and raising over £3000 for The Golf Foundation, the charity which helps introduce children from all walks of life to the game.
Todd’s 26-and-a-bit-mile route took him from his home in Ayr, across 10 courses in this great golfing heartland and over the finishing line at the Prestwick clubhouse. He made it in three hours, 40 minutes and three seconds. “During the run on Sunday when it was getting really tough I was thinking to myself ‘this is the last marathon I’ll ever do’,” reflected Todd of the exhausting rigours of his task. “But I woke up the next day thinking ‘when’s the next one?’. I’ve got to the end of this week to put my name in for the ballot for next year’s London Marathon and it’s something I’d love to do.”
When the world as we knew it came shuddering to a halt as the coronavirus pandemic raged, Todd used the time to get moving. “You can blame lockdown on this,” he added with a chuckle. “The plan was to lose a bit of weight when the restrictions came in so I started running back in April 2020. Part of the motivation was proving to myself that I could stick to it. I probably didn’t think I would. But you do get addicted to it.”
He certainly did. In preparation for his marathon test, Todd, who has worked at Prestwick for almost a decade, clocked up over 1200km since the start of January. With a disciplined, dedicated regime, and the kind of bleary-eyed alarm calls that would’ve had the larks rolling over and snoozing for another hour, Todd put in the hard yards.
“I found my alarm clock was getting earlier and earlier,” he said. “Sometimes it was 4:45 am to get the long runs in. I had to be back by 7.30 to get the kids up. That was the curfew. But I’m a morning person anyway and you do feel a sense of achievement when you’ve put the miles in early. It’s a nice way to start the day. My longest training run was 20 miles although I nearly sickened myself one time as I went off too quickly at the start and found it a struggle at the end. It was all about planning a routine and sticking to it. You only get out what you put in. It’s like golf. You have to put in the time.”
Prior to last weekend’s big push, Todd had already completed five half-marathons while a charity run for the MS Society saw him bound through 200km in a month.
When the intrepid Pheidippides panted into Athens back in ye day and gasped ‘ah’m bloody knackered now’ before relaying news of victory at the Battle of Marathon to his fellow Ancient Greeks, little did we know the impact his endeavours would have. “I’ve definitely been bitten by the running bug,” declared Todd. “The marathon was tougher than I thought, though, and the last 5km were very hard. I guess if you’re doing the real thing, the crowds will spur you on but it’s hard to gee yourself along.”
As well as raising a considerable sum for charity, Todd also claimed some family bragging rights. “My uncle ran a few marathons back in the day and says he has photographic evidence of him crossing the line in London at about three hours and 40,” Todd said. “He now reckons it took him four minutes to reach the start line … but he concedes my time beats his.”