6th August 2017
SUPER HAWKINS JUST MISSES PODIUM AFTER RECORD-EQUALLING MARTHON RUN
A phenomenal display from Callum Hawkins saw him equal the best ever performance by a male British athlete in the marathon at the World Championships as he finished fourth at London 2017.
The 25-year-old Scot went into the race following two exceptional marathon performances in 2016 where he finished eighth in the London Marathon and ninth at the Rio Olympics but today’s blistering performance was his best yet as he lowered his PB to 2:10:17.
Hawkins looked comfortable as the race began in front of a passionate home crowd that lined the streets of the capital and after five kilometres, he pushed into the lead in order to stretch out the chasing pack.
He maintained a quick pace to break up the field but dropped back to ninth around the half way staged as Kenya’s Boston Marathon winner Geoffrey Kirui led a small breakaway group.
Hawkins soon fought back in trademark fashion to produce a stunning finish that saw him storm past many of his world class rivals to take fourth place. It was a result that equalled the best British men’s result from 22 years ago, when Peter Whitehead just missed the medals in Gothenburg in 1995.
The was won by Kirui with Ethiopia’s Tamirat Tola taking silver and Tanzania’s Alphonce Simbu picking up bronze narrowly ahead of Hawkins.
“I wanted to maybe sneak a medal and to actually see it (third place) as I was finishing was a bit tough,” Hawkins said. “I gave it my all – I couldn’t really have asked for anything more performance wise. I couldn’t give any more. I knew I could be close to a medal so I had that in my mind.
“Maybe I should have held them a bit closer when that big move went, but it was a huge move. I thought going in to it that I could compete with them, but maybe need a few more years – I’m still only 25.”
There were also strong performances from the other two British Athletics marathon runners in the men’s race with Andrew Davies clocking 2:17:59 to pick up 31st and Josh Griffiths crossing in 2:20:06 to take 39th in a field featuring 100 entrants.
The 39th place marked a fantastic result for Griffiths, who shot to fame at the London Marathon in April. Although he had not started the world-renowned race amongst elite runners, or ever run a marathon before, the 22-year-old from Wales broke clear from the club-running ranks to finish in 13th. The result meant he was the first Briton to finish, clocking 2:14:49, and his unexpected performance earned him a place at the London 2017 World Championships.
“To be with the British Athletics team has been an amazing experience and it is something I definitely want to be a part of again in the future because it has been amazing,” he said.
“I just want to say a massive thank you to the crowd, everyone who came out made really made the day special and we couldn’t have done it without them really. I also want to say a massive well done to Callum because his performance really was unbelievable.”
Just ahead of Griffiths was a delighted Davies who said he had loved every step of the race.
“That was unbelievable – I experienced something like that at Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games but that was on par. It was incredible, you had to lap all the atmosphere up.
“It was an unbelievable performance from Callum to get a 2:10 on that course – that’s probably two to three minutes slower that a normal course, so what an incredible run.
“I’m a bit gutted for him to miss out on the medals but he’s got plenty of time and I’m sure they’ll come thick and fast before too long.”
Later on in the women’s race, Alyson Dixon put in a courageous display that saw her lead the elite field for the majority of the race.
The 38-year-old, who received huge support from the home crowd throughout, pushed into the lead straight from the gun and was out in front on her own until well over the halfway stage – at one point by nearly a minute.
The chasing pack eventually managed to reel in Dixon around the 30 kilometre stage but she stayed with them until the final stages at which point the effects of her early surge caught up with her.
Dixon eventually fell back to finish in 18th in 2:31:36.
“I’m lost for words, it was amazing,” she said. “I knew I was in fantastic shape, training has gone so well, it was a quick turn-around from the London marathon, but the last seven weeks I’ve spent at altitude and sessions have gone beyond belief, I’ve done mileage like I’ve never done – 130–140 miles a week. It all paid off out there. I never in my wildest dreams expected to be leading.
“If you can’t enjoy running a World Championship in London with that support what are you in the sport for? It was giving you that boost every time.”
One of those to pass Dixon in the closing stages was strong-finishing compatriot Charlotte Purdue who put in a fantastic performance to claim 13th in 2:29:48 to be the first Brit across the line.
“At the beginning I held back quite a lot and I think it definitely paid off well because at the end I felt so good,” said Purdue. “I was picking them off. I had nothing else to give but I felt really strong on that last lap so I was really happy.”
The final Brit to cross the line was Tracy Barlow who finished 43rd in 2:41:03 in a strong field of 92 entrants.
“Having seen the guys come off the course a lot of them said take it easy going around the first few laps because actually it is quite tough. So the first couple of laps I just tried to get in to a rhythm, take it easy, then just dig in and try and push on if I could.
“The atmosphere was amazing, it makes 100 per cent difference just having your name shouted out the whole way round. People I don’t even know were shouting my name. It’s nice having the support of everybody getting right behind you.”