THERE are less than 50 days to go until the biggest physical and mental challenge of my life - this year's Virgin Money London Marathon.

As mentioned previously, both excitement and apprehension levels are already at fever pitch in the Plummer household.

But along with tens of thousands of others, no doubt, I'm keeping close tabs on the alarming spread of Coronavirus.

London Marathon organisers say they're 'closely monitoring' developments and noting the updates and information given by the UK government and World Health Organisation.

As things stand, the advice is that all mass events should still go ahead so let's hope it stays that way.

It goes without saying that if the marathon is off, I would understand and respect the decision. Naturally.

But I'd certainly be bitterly disappointed.

Anyway, in the meantime, it's full steam ahead and I attempted by longest run yet on Friday morning, tackling 22 miles.

I won't do any more than that and was happy with my time of three hours and eight minutes.

It was hard going early on - it seems to take me a few miles to find my stride and rhythm - which makes me think/hope I might be able to go a little quicker on the big day.

However, I'm told that might not be a bad thing.

As Colchester Harriers coach John Hyland told me: "When you do your long, steady marathon run, go just a minute or so below your PB.

"That way, you put your money in the bank and take out the interest on race day."

I never have to look far for inspiration, when it comes to training.

Everyone I've spoken to who has participated or watched the marathon promises me it'll be the most magical, memorable day.

That's certainly the view of veteran runner Terry Rivers, who kindly made contact after my last column.

Coincidentally, I remember writing about his exploits as a junior reporter 20 years ago (I still have the cutting!).

Terry started out as a promising footballer but took up running after being released by then Colchester United manager Neil Franklin.

Since then, he's completed an eye-watering 78 marathons, including 21 at London.

He has been awarded the Halstead Town Council Civic award and met the Queen, in honour of his continuous charity work.

In the last couple of years, Terry has been in remission with lymphoma cancer but stays positive and still runs most days. What a remarkable man.

Another brush with inspiration came on Saturday, when taking my son, Sam, to the UK Inter-Counties Cross Country Championships, in Loughborough.

We were introduced to former Olympian Eamonn Martin - the last British male winner in London, winning the 1993 race after a sprint finish with Mexican Isidro Rico.

Incredibly, it was his first-ever marathon (he recorded a time of two hours, ten minutes and 50 seconds) but he went on to win the Chicago Marathon in 1995 (2h 11m 18s).

Essex's Eamonn competed at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics, in Los Angeles and Seoul respectively, before striking gold in the 10,000 metres at the 1990 Commonwealth Games, in Auckland.

Four years later he represented England at the Commonwealth Games in British Columbia, Canada.

It was great to chat with him and listen to some of his stories about competing on the biggest of stages.

Don't forget to drop me a line if you have any tips or tales about running at the London Marathon.

It would be great to hear from you and my email address is