A downpour – and beers – for Newington primary’s Marathon men

Head teacher Cliff Stokes and the governing body’s chair Jonathan Smith completed the 2020 London Marathon

A 6am start and a two hour downpour didn’t deter Newington Community Primary School’s head teacher and chair of governors from their London Marathon day challenge.

Although the 40th anniversary race (Sunday, October 4) was held for elite athletes only in the capital, runners from around the country were invited to stage their own version of the event.

Cliff Stokes and the governing body’s chair Jonathan Smith set out into the gloom before daybreak determined that Newington would play its part on the 2020 history-making race day.

Mr Stokes said: “Due to the current government restrictions it was a virtual marathon and you could run a 26.2 mile route of your choosing, whilst being tracked by an app on your phone.

“Jonathan and myself finished in five and a half hours having run from Cliftonville around the coastline to the Discovery Park complex near Sandwich and back again.

“We started at 6am and spent the first two hours in a deluge but managed to make great time, and even slotted in a stop for a well-deserved beer at the 25 mile point – not the usual marathon routine.

“We ran to raise fund for two fantastic causes – the Pilgrims Hospices and the RNIB. Thanks to generous donations from school families, staff and friends of the school we raised £300.

“We encourage our children to show grit and determination in all they do and our school community is always keen to support worthwhile causes.

“It was a fabulous day. We had a smashing – and splashing – time and I am already thinking ahead to when the next marathon might be.

“We were determined to flag up a decent time and help our community on behalf of Team Newington, and I am happy that Jonathan and I did just that.”

Both keen runners, Mr Stokes has competed in more than 50 marathons, and Mr Smith has run in over 10 marathons, and Sunday’s was his second London event.

Last year Newington staff took part in the Couch to 10K Challenge, leaving their comfy chairs to get into training and take up running.

More than 30 men and women including teachers, teaching assistants, cleaners and kitchen staff successfully completed the course from the Granville Theatre on Ramsgate’s East Cliff, along the cliff top and prom around the coast to Louisa Bay in Broadstairs and back.

The idea was for staff to show the same grit and determination – among the school’s core values – that is expected of pupils during their learning journey at the school.

The school is planning another Couch to 10K Challenge in 2021.