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Brits line up for London

Andrew Lemoncello london marathon

 

15 April 2011

This weekend's Virgin London Marathon features a number of GB athletes vying for selection for this year's World Championships. With marathon selection scheduled for Monday, here is a run down of the top Brits with Daegu in their sights: 

British Men

Andrew Lemoncello, who finished eighth on his debut at the Virgin London Marathon 12 months ago, admits that this year’s event is even more exciting because every British athlete has got an eye on 2012.

“You’re not going to give up anything (in the closing stages),” says the US-based Scot who heads the elite British men’s field for this year’s edition of the event.

“It was so exciting when Phil (Wicks) said he was doing London, and other guys like Lee (Merrien) have been training really well, so yeah, this is going to be it!"

Having been forced to drop out of Fukuoka Marathon in December with stomach cramps, Lemoncello’s best – and only – marathon mark is his solid 2:13.40 in London which is inside UK Athletics’ ‘team’ standard of 2:16 for the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea in August, and just outside the required individual standard of 2:12.

He insists it’s a stepping stone to London however, and at this stage has not confirmed his intentions to run over the marathon distance in South Korea, potentially opting to focus on the track 10,000m instead.

Wicks, a former pacemaker in London, is not daunted by the prospect of making his debut over 26.2 miles and is reassured by his previous event experience.

“I’m really looking forward to Sunday,” he says; “my training has gone really well and I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’ve always run a high mileage, and while the long runs are hard work I’ve been feeling better every week.

“I had to train hard to pace the race and I ran through to 25km, so although it’s a debut race I’ve run the first half before and it’s given me good experience.

“2:12 is obviously on my mind and my training has gone well enough for me to think about it. I’m aiming for it because I think I can achieve it.”

Merrien, who recently returned from a UKA/London Marathon Altitude Training Camp in Iten, Kenya, has a best of 2:16:48 from 2010 and is joined by Dave Webb, who, like Lemoncello has clocked the UKA ‘team’ standard within the qualification period with a mark of 2:15:42, and Martin Williams with a PB of 2:17:36.

“Some people have said 2:12 is tough,” concludes Lemoncello, but to be realistic, you’re not going to do anything at the Olympics (if you run outside of that), and we can get a full team out.”

 

Phil Wicks

Tomas Abyu, statistically the quickest British athlete on the start list, clocked his lifetime best of 2:10:37 back in 2004. He recorded 2:14:32 at the same venue in October 2010, his second marathon in three weeks following victory at Loch Ness earlier in the month but like Ben Whitby, who recorded the UKA team standard with 2:15:09 in Florence last year, it was not on the published list of IAAF approved courses for Daegu qualification.

Tom Payn, who recorded his 2:17:29 marathon PB in 2009, raced to a lifetime best over the half marathon distance in 2010 and is on course to better that mark.

The Aviva GB & NI team for the IAAF World Championships marathon will be selected on Monday 18 April.

UKA will select a team of up to five athletes for Daegu will if at least three eligible athletes have achieved the UKA ‘team’ standard (2:16) within the qualification period 1 January 2010 – midnight on 17 April 2011, but if fewer than three athletes have achieved the team standard then up to two athletes will be considered for selection each of whom must have achieved the UKA ‘individual’ standard (2:12) within the period.

 

Yelling FLM 2008
British Women

Liz Yelling returns to the London for the first time since she recorded a lifetime best of 2:28:33 in 2008 and is determined to make it a stepping stone en route to a third Olympic marathon in London.

“From here on in it’s all about 2012,” says Yelling who finished 26th in the Beijing Olympic Games - her last marathon for more than two years – before taking a break to have her first child.

She returned to action in 2010 with victory in the Silverstone Half Marathon in March and admits that while the World Championships marathon in Daegu this summer is definitely a consideration, it’s not a confirmed fixture in her racing plans.

“I won’t totally rule it out, because to run the London qualifying time now and do nothing between now and then isn’t really good enough I don’t think,” she says. “You need to show consistency and I want to show that I’m continuing to improve going into 2012, not just running well at the moment. If I was a selector then that’s what I’d be looking for.”

Yelling has experience on her side and lines up in the knowledge that her best mark over 26.2 miles is well inside UKA’s required individual standard of 2:31 for the World Championships. Indeed, her 2:37:14 comeback over the full marathon distance in Chicago in October was only marginally outside the team standard of 2:35.

“Chicago wasn’t great but it was really to tick the marathon box, I wanted to prove to myself that I could still do it and now this (London) is about running faster.

“2008 is obviously in my head, it’s the time I ran a great marathon and you take inspiration from those moments, but I’ve also been thinking about the other Brits and we’ve all got an eye on the Olympic Games: Jo (Pavey) is a fantastic calibre athlete and it would be good to see her have a great debut, while Louise (Damen) is stepping up; she’s the future of marathon running and I hope she has a great run around London this Sunday.”

 

Jo Pavey

Equally experienced on the international scene and following the birth of her first child in 2009, Jo Pavey – in complete contrast to her GB & NI team mate Yelling - makes her marathon debut this weekend.

A three-time Olympian, Pavey recorded a lifetime best over 10,000, with 31:12.30 when finishing 12th in the Beijing Olympic Games.

She missed out on the 2010 European Championships in Barcelona with injury but returned to form when finishing sixth in the New York City Half Marathon in March with a time of 69:33, her first race in six months.

“As an athlete you just want to go out and run well,” says Pavey, “but I’ve had such a lot to learn and it’s such an unknown; I hope this is a stepping stone to great things.

“I’m really pleased to be here at last, it seems like I’ve been talking about a marathon for a long time so it’s great to be here. I’ve started to enjoy the training and I’ve found that having a new event to focus on has kept my motivation really high.”

She insists her race plan for the remainder of 2011 is unconfirmed and won’t know her options until post-London, but her ultimate goal, of course, is an Olympic marathon, and London, she says, “would be a dream come true.”

Only Mara Yamauchi has already achieved UKA’s individual time for Daegu within the qualification period and has made herself available for selection, although she misses out this weekend following a recent return to training from injury. Also in the World Championships mix, Alyson Dixon clocked an impressive PB of 2:34:51 in Brighton on 10 April, albeit on a course which is not on the published list of IAAF approved courses for Daegu qualification.

Also competing in London this Sunday, European Marathon Team Cup bronze medallists Susan Partridge and Helen Decker line up together for the first time since their outing in Barcelona last summer.

Partridge, who clocked her lifetime best on the London course in 2010 (2:35:57) ahead of a 16th place individual finish in the European Championships in Barcelona, will be looking to lower that mark to go inside the UKA team standard of 2:35.

Decker, 19th in London last year in a PB (2:36:56) and 21st in the European Championships following a period of training at the UKA/London Marathon Altitude Training Camp in Iten, Kenya , is well placed to improve on that mark following a lifetime half marathon best of 74:04 in Reading in March.

The pair are joined in the line of leading British women by Rebecca Robinson (coach: Norman Matthews), who was 20th in London on debut last year (2:37:14) and24th at the European Championships and Louise Damen, who makes her debut.
The Aviva GB & NI team for the IAAF World Championships marathon will be selected on Monday 18 April.

UKA will select a team of up to five athletes for Daegu will if at least three eligible athletes have achieved the UKA ‘team’ standard (2:35) within the qualification period 1 January 2010 – midnight on 17 April 2011, but if fewer than three athletes have achieved the ‘team’ standard then up to two athletes will be considered for selection each of whom must have achieved the UKA ‘individual’ standard (2:31) within the period.