With the London Marathon cancelled this Sunday due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there are plenty of disappointed runners who feel like their training has all been for naught.

But perhaps the disappointment will be felt most keenly by charities, for whom the Virgin Money London Marathon raised more than £66.4m in 2019.

Smaller charities are particularly hard hit, as many rely on the big chunk of money generated by the event. For instance, Amref Health Africa, a charity that partners with communities across Africa to secure the right to health and break the cycle of poverty, typically raises £15,000 annually from the marathon. “It’s a big loss,” says head of fundraising for women and girls Katie Greywood.

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Instead some bright spark has come up with the 2.6 Challenge (#TwoPointSixChallenge). Here’s everything you need to know.

When is the 2.6 Challenge?

It’s happening on the same day the London Marathon was due to take place: 26 April.

Where is the 2.6 Challenge?

The challenge is being taken all over the UK, with people participating wherever they are while respecting the social distancing rules – in the project’s words, “we’re not looking for superheroes. We’re looking for Home Heroes.”

What is the 2.6 Challenge?

The idea is that participants choose a challenge, any challenge at all, related to 2.6 or 26 (the number of miles in a marathon, plus the date the event would have taken place), and then ask friends and family to sponsor them to try to make up some of the money lost through the London Marathon not going ahead. Anything goes, from running around the garden for 2.6 miles to bench pressing 26 kilos.

How can I get involved?

You can either donate by sponsoring other people’s challenges, or think up your own challenge and fundraise for it. People are also being invited to spread the word on social media by sharing pictures or videos of their challenges and using the hashtag #TwoPointSixChallenge.

What are other people doing?

There’s a wide range of challenges being taken up so far, from a sausage dog who’s going to collect a ball 26 times (who’s already raised more than £1,000 for Oxfam), to running a 26-question quiz. One little boy is scooting 2.6km while another participant is learning 26 songs on the accordion.

Celebrities are also getting involved in the challenge: Paul Chuckle (of Chuckle Brothers fame) is running around the apple tree in his garden; Jessica Ennis-Hill is hitting a golf ball 26 times with a cheese grater; and Jonny Wilkinson is doing 26 keepie uppies with various balls.

Where can I find resources and help?

Go to twopointsixchallenge.co.uk to find out more. The campaign has raised £1.7m at the time of writing.

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