Roving Chef for charity Vegetarian for Life, Alex Connell, has completed an epic running challenge, journeying ‘virtually' from Lands' End to John O'Groats, a journey of 875 miles.
Starting in Cornwall, Alex ran (and walked) 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 wasn't actually in either Lands' End or John O'Groats - this was a virtual run. I certainly ran and walked the 875 miles, but only close to my home in Manchester."
"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."
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 own garden. Seven hundred laps and 5 ½ hours later, Alex crossed the toilet roll finish line in first place.
Like his colleagues, Alex usually spends his time travelling around the country, visiting care homes, conferences and festivals, demonstrating and encouraging the adoption of meat-free dishes to those who cater for older vegetarians and vegans.
As well as for the personal challenge, Alex undertook the run to raise awareness of the charity and how it is reaching out to those in isolation or who are feeling lonely due to the pandemic.
He said: "We have a number of great schemes at VfL that can help those who are feeling a little lonely during these strange times. We have a Veggie Pen- and Phone-Pals Scheme, a new care home card-writing campaign, and can offer small grants to assist independent living. We're here for anyone that needs us."
Although Vegetarian for Life chefs like Alex are not able to visit people personally at the moment, they can tailor a cookery demonstration or a cook-along specifically for groups online. Like virtual running, virtual demos also come with added benefits, including the fact that you don't have to leave your own home to participate.