25th April 2019
MARATHON TEST AWAITS BRITISH CONTINGENT IN LONDON
The stage is set for the Virgin Money London Marathon this Sunday with some of the country’s best endurance runners taking on the marquee 26.2 mile course through the iconic locations in the capital city. The event also acts as the British Championships and trial race for the IAAF World Championships in Doha later this year.
By winning the Chicago Marathon last October, Sir Mo Farah (coach: Gary Lough; club: Newham & Essex Beagles) showed his credentials over the distance, smashing the British record in the process, clocking 2:05.11.
He was third in London last year behind Kenya’s world record holder Eliud Kipchoge and Ethiopia’s Tola Shura Kitata, both of whom compete in this year’s race. Kipchoge is the overwhelming favourite, looking to make it five London Marathon victories in a row.
Farah won the Big Half in March, recording a time of 61.15, in his only race since his triumph in the States last Autumn.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s race, Farah said: “This event is a great event that I’ve watched over the years and that I’ve been lucky enough to run, the first time was in 2014 and to come back last year and finish third in a British record was incredible.
“I’m still learning because the marathon is completely different to the track. Since racing Eliud in London and learning the hard way, I feel like I’ve learnt a lot. Each race you get better and get more experience and going into Chicago, training was going well and I was enjoying it.
“As an athlete, if you don’t enjoy it, you don’t run your best and I run my best when I’m enjoying it and I’m happy. My aim on Sunday is to go out there and see what I can do.”
Other notable British athletes involved are Dewi Griffiths (Kevin Evans; Swansea) and Callum Hawkins (Robert Hawkins; Kilbarchan), who have achieved notable results over the distance in recent years.
The latter is hoping to put to bed the demons of his Commonwealth Games marathon in Gold Coast last year and hopes that he can show a reflection of the form he is producing in training on the streets of the capital.
Hawkins added: “Lisbon didn’t go quite as well as I was hoping – I thought I was in better shape. But since then I’ve been going well in training out in Majorca and I feel in pretty good shape. Every session I was doing I was setting PBs. I’d probably say I’m in better shape now than before Rio and pre-London 2017.
“It would also be nice to get that monkey off my back by showing I can run in the heat. Normally, in hot races, I’ve been fine but it was just an accumulation of things [in the Gold Coast] – I got a bad bug bite the week before and ended up on anti-inflammatories, which knocked my system off a little bit. Maybe I was hot-headed, too, going from a long way out and not taking my foot off the gas.
“This year for me is all planned around making Tokyo and I think [the World Championships in] Doha is part of those plans. It’s a great opportunity to gain selection and then I can have the best build up for the Olympics.”
Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Robbie Simpson (Deeside Runners) will make a tilt at qualifying for the British team at the IAAF World Championships in Doha later this year, with the race acting as the trial for the men’s and women’s races.
Others British athletes to watch out for include debutant Jack Martin (David Turnbull, Stockport), 2017 surprise package Joshua Griffiths (Carol Jones; Swansea), Jonny Mellor (Steve Vernon; Liverpool) and Andy Davies (Steve Vernon; Stockport).
In the elite women’s race, the domestic battle will be a fascinating one, with last year’s British champion Lily Partridge (self; Aldershot Farnham & District), Charlotte Purdue (Nic Bideau; Aldershot Farnham & District) and Sonia Samuels (Sale Harriers Manchester) among the leading names.
Partridge took almost three minutes off her best at the 2018 edition with a time of 2:29.24, claiming an excellent eighth place. Unfortunately, she did not finish at the European Championships in Berlin last year but will be raring to show her best on home soil.
Purdue arrives at race week on the back of a build-up which has included a half marathon PB and victory at the Big Half in London. The former came in Japan at the Marugame International Half Marathon, 69:46 the time, taking 43 seconds off her previous best.
She is hoping that she can continue the form she has shown over an excellent winter to keep her in contention this weekend.
She added: “At The Big Half, the crowd got me through the race because it was really tough conditions and the weather was pretty windy. I just hope I can do a lot of people proud on Sunday.
“I’d love to get a big PB. I’ve been training [in Australia] with Sinead Diver, who’s run 2:25, so I know I’m around that kind of pace, but I don’t want to go off too fast and blow up. I need to run a sensible race and then try to finish as high up as I can. I always run better in the second half of the race and I always feel terrible for the first hour.
“I would like to be first Brit because I won the British [half marathon] champs at The Big Half this year so it would be good to have the double. And obviously I always want to win the British race.”
Also on British watch in the elite women’s race are Tracy Barlow (Thames Valley) who finished 43rd at the World Championships in 2017, Tish Jones (Belgrave), Natasha Cockram (Tony Houchin, Mickey Morris Racing Team) and Hayley Carruthers (Birchfield Harriers).
You can follow the races on BBC and the London Marathon website, while the British Athletics Twitter account will be providing updates throughout the races.