The COVID-forced international travel restrictions have not stopped a Soldiers Point couple from running this year's London Marathon - albeit in Port Stephens.
Business couple Kevin and Jodie Bees had been looking forward to joining 45,000 other runners for the 40th running of the London Marathon on October 4 until the pandemic hit and put paid to the event for all but a few elite athletes.
With their ambitions momentarily dashed, the couple, who have two children aged 3 and 1, soon decided that if they couldn't go to London for the marathon they would bring the marathon to Port Stephens.
"We were disappointed by the cancellation," says Jodie, a naturopath and nutrition expert. "But, as with everything in life, if we take a flexible approach we can always find a way to achieve our goals."
Organisers are encouraging runners around the world like Kevin and Jodie to run the marathon in their home town and are supporting them by tracking distances and times via a mobile phone application.
All registered runners who finish their own marathon will receive the coveted London Marathon medal.
Kevin and Jodie have plotted their 42.2km marathon along the foreshore tracks of Port Stephens from Soldiers Point to Fingal Point and return.
"Our route may not have the Tower Bridge, Big Ben or Buckingham Palace but we think it must be the most beautiful marathon route in the world," Jodie said.
Kevin, founder of international business coaching organisation BeesKneesBusiness.com, said the event - and especially the Institute of Cancer Research which they are supporting - had become too important in their lives to simply abandon.
"We are very thankful for the support of the amazing community in this area. Nelson Bay Health Foods is providing refreshments for the run, Bondi Chai has sponsored our T-shirt and donated to support the ICR and friends and family will be there to cheers us on."
Jodie said they were strongly connected to the cause they were supporting.
"Kevin's mum died of cancer at age 60 this year as did my good friend Kate (36), and my mum and aunt are both fighting cancer now. It;s very important to us to honour those close to us and to support others in their fight against cancer," she said.
Martin Buggy from Bondi Chai said described the run as a a great idea from a great couple for a great cause.
"You would need more than a little inspiration to run a marathon and there would be few places in the world more inspiring than Port Stephens. Maybe their efforts will encourage others to make it an annual event."
Kevin and Jodie have so far raised $9000 and would welcome further donations. Follow the journey and donate through the Port Stephens Marathon Facebook page.