26th August 2023


Natasha Cockram (coach: Robert Hawkins, club: Micky Morris Racing Team) finished a valiant 30th in the women’s marathon on the penultimate morning of action in Budapest at the World Athletics Championships.

The Welsh athlete started conservatively as the field grouped together for the first 5km before a brief surge from Susanna Sullivan (USA) and Rosa Chacha (ECU) split the pair off from the rest. As the next 5km developed, the group began to whittle down with the Briton maintaining her place in the lead group, going through 10km in 35:42.

A step up in pace around 13km split the lead group up as the field became stretched out for the first time. Cockram could not hold on to the pace and dropped to 25 seconds behind the leaders by the 14km split but maintained her position in the top 40.

As the temperatures started to rise around 8am, Cockram continued to race smart as she reached the halfway mark in 1:15:56 in 41st, just 90 seconds off the lead group.

The next 10 kilometres were a battle for the Briton as she continued to tick off the miles working with Croatia’s Bojana Bjeljac and Spain’s Meritxell Soler for long periods to move up to 39th. She went through 30km in 1:49:30 with one final lap to face around the streets of Hungary’s capital.

It was a lonely last lap for Cockram, but a fruitful one, as athletes began to fade or drop out, she remained composed and fought well to pick off several athletes and cross the line in a time of 2:35:34 for 30th position in her first World Athletics Championships marathon.

The race was won by Ethiopia’s Amane Beriso Shankule in 2:24:23 with her compatriot Gotytom Gebreslase taking silver in 2:24:34, and Morocco’s Fatima Ezzahra Gardadi moving through the field strongly to take the bronze in 2:25:17.

The British 2:26:14 marathoner, spoke afterwards, saying “It wasn’t too bad for the first 10-12 miles, but it ramped up after that. It was a double whammy of the heat rising and the pace increasing. I managed to pick quite a few athletes off on the second half which was always the aim. Going through halfway I did worry I had gone out too fast, but I managed to pick a few off so I am happy enough with that result.

“It is really hard to predict times coming into races like these. It is quite slow compared to my PB, but based on position and where I was ranked in the field, I am happy with that. It is my first time ever competing for GB and to do it at a World Championships is an incredible experience.

“It was pretty hot out here today, but I have prepared well for this, despite been in the UK for my training. I was running 20 miles in the peak of the heatwave in the UK in May and June, jumping in the hot tub for half an hour afterwards, which was pretty brutal, but it has paid off.”

The Great Britain and Northern Ireland medal tally:

Gold (2): Katarina Johnson-Thompson – Women’s Heptathlon, Josh Kerr – Men’s 1500m

Silver (2): Mixed 4x400m Relay, Matthew Hudson-Smith – Men’s 400m

Bronze (1): Zharnel Hughes – Men’s 100m