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It’s the London marathon today: This is what Virgin Sport’s CEO really thinks about it

Today is London’s biggest sporting event of the year - the infamous London Marathon. We spoke to Virgin Sport’s CEO (and marathon runner!) Mary Wittenberg about what she really thinks of this momentous race.

She may be a successful CEO, but Wittenberg is also a running expert. She once ran a marathon is an incredible two hours, 44 minutes she told us. And if that wasn’t impressive enough, she often runs up to 20 races a year! We chatted to her about Virgin Sport and her tips for race success.

Wittenberg with Virgin’s founder Richard Branson

Listen up, London marathon runners

Running a marathon is a big deal! Wittenberg’s advice to all the marathon runners out there today is not to be missed. She told Compelo: “Try and chill out before the race. It’s natural to have some level of the jitters. It’s nervous energy – your body is fuelled and ready to go. Remember you can’t do any more training now. You have checked your gear 3 times and it’s still correct, so things are out of your hands! Also race day is not the time to experiment! Whether that is with new foods at breakfast, a new pair of running shoes, running shorts, a new sports bra, or new nutrition or hydration. Stick to what you know.”

Virgin Sport is the new arm to Richard Branson’s empire. Back in May of 2015, Branson lured Wittenberg away from her job at the New York Road Runners, the company behind the famous New York City Marathon, to create Virgin Sport.

What is Virgin Sport?

Virgin Sport is, in the main part, about driving business to Virgin Active health clubs (of which there are nearly 300!) and to health and wellness business Virgin Pulse. Now four events are taking place to launch Virgin Sport, the first of them is next week. There will be one in Hackney (April 30), then Westminster (July 9), followed by two in October - one in Oxford and the other in San Francisco.

What does Virgin Sport mean to Wittenberg? “Virgin Sport is about bringing communities together to get people moving. Whether this is your first half marathon or 5.5k, the team are here to support you from start to finish. Training is a really important part of any running event but most importantly, we want communities to get together and have fun being active.”

And what if people aren’t into running? “If running isn’t your thing, Virgin Sport is breaking down the barriers to sport by creating a festival for everyone. Hackney Marshes will be transformed into a free access festival village, featuring local bands and DJs, roaming entertainment, live artwork installations and pop-up sports activities. We are passionate about enhancing the lives of young people and supporting festival host communities.”

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The Virgin Sport Festival of Fitness series starts in Hackney on 30th April.