2020 - My Year in Running

Well that was a bit shit, wasn’t it?

Posted by Ross Poulton on Thu 11 March 2021

As I’ve done in the past few years (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019) I have put together a rear-vision-mirror view on my year in running.

There honestly isn’t that much to report from last year. Things were a little... messy. Although my friends and family weren’t directly impacted by COVID-related illness, the statewide lockdowns and restrictions on movement definitely put a dent in the plans of everybody. This was true also for my running plans.

My first - and only - real event of the year was Two Bays Trail Run back in January 2020. I was able to get an entry at the last minute, and ran the 28km course for a bit of fun. I rolled my ankle around halfway through, and finished a fair way behind my previous years - but it was great fun. Little did I know it would be my last race for over a year!

I was entered into a handful of events after that, which were unfortunately all cancelled for pandemic related reasons. Surf Coast Trail Marathon (43k, June) and Buffalo Stampede (42k, April) were high on my stoke list for the year and I was really disappointed to miss each one.

I do struggle to train consistently when I don’t have any events on the horizon. So, to keep my interest up, I started a run streak during one of our 5km-radius-lockdowns. This lasted about 60 days and was a bit of fun: there was a new motivation for me to get up and run each day. Unfortunately it didn’t really improve my running at all, it purely served as a tool to show myself that I can avoid most excuses for two months in a row!

London? In Melbourne? Sure!

Come August I did pull on a running bib - kinda - to participate in the London Marathon. Obviously international flights were out of the question, so along with Darren and Rob we ran the event virtually near home in Melbourne, Australia. This was a fun challenge!

  1. Firstly, a marathon takes me around four hours to run, give or take. We were still in lockdown conditions with a daily exercise limit of two hours...
  2. Secondly, the rules of the London Virtual Marathon dictated that the event must happen within a 24 hour block, from midnight GMT to midnight GMT. That gave us a window from 10am Sunday to 10am Monday local time.

The challenge was accepted: we would run for 2 hours mid-morning Sunday, and 2 more early on Monday morning. This would keep us within the rules and - hopefully - get us to a total of 42.2km.

We got a true London-meets-Melbourne experience. Sunday was relatively hot and humid, but Darren and I got out for 22.1km in 1h59min. We backed it up Monday morning with 20.1km in 1:54, giving us a total of 42.2km in a tad under 4 hours. Our second run finished at 9:20am - 40 mins inside our allowed window!

We may have been running in a pair rather than with 40,000 other runners - but getting that big heavy London Marathon medal to hang on my wall was a pretty special treat in an otherwise shitty year.

2020 Goal review

  • Run 2,000km. 1,899km in total. I’m not too stressed by this - a lack of events and general apahthy caused by <elmo arms>all this shit</elmo arms> was always going to ding me a bit here.
  • Parkrun below 19:50. Only ran a handful of parkruns, none whilst in great athletic shape, so didn’t even give this a go.
  • Volunteer more at parkrun If there’s no parkrun there’s no volunteering, is there?
  • Keep the race load to 1 big race per quarter Achieved... only thanks to COVID.

Goals for 2021

These might look familiar... Given I effectively put my running in a holding pattern last year, I still want to tick off these goals.

  • Run 2,000km consistently throughout the year Consistently is the aim here. 2000km is 40km a week on average, which is quite reasonable if I want to have some bigger 50-70km weeks and some easier recovery weeks at 10-20km.
  • Parkrun below 19:50 Once the Summer and Autumn events are done, I need to focus on speed work.
  • Volunteer more This goes for life, not just running: I need to volunteer more, at Parkrun, at other trail races, and elsewhere.
  • Build strength My excuse for not doing strength or core exercises is that many runners don’t do these exercises so why should I? That’s bullshit, and I need to do better.

Events for 2021

It’s very hard to commit to events with the on-again-off-again nature of COVID lockdowns...

To start with, I’m signed up for two monster events: The Archie 50k (as part of the Oscars 100 Hut 2 Hut weekend at Mt Buller) in March, and the Buffalo Stampede Skymarathon in April: my biggest-vert run ever (3,000m descent, 2,000m ascent).

I don’t think I’m in perfect mountain marathon or ultramarathon shape - far from it - but these are both in stunning parts of the world that should be enjoyable to run even if I’m not as fast as I could be.

Beyond those events I’d like to run the Surf Coast Trail Marathon (June) and perhaps have another go at Wonderland Run (August) but I think 2021 will be the year of last-minute race entries.


For many reasons, 2020 was a year to forget. I am incredibly lucky that my household was healthy, we kept our jobs, and didn’t have any personal loss. Not being able to participate in running events was disappointing but not the biggest issue of the year for most people.

I’m grateful that my chosen pastime can be undertaken without needing to be in a large group, though for me personally it sure is more enjoyable with friends. With a vaccine rollout in the early days here in Australia, and near-zero local transmission of the virus, it looks like we might just have a better year in many ways.

Photo: Two Bays Trail Race 2020. Having fun in the sand and coastal bush of the Mornington Peninsula