London Marathon Preview
As another Easter approaches, so does the annual edition of the UK's biggest marathon. Approximately 35,000 people will line up in Blackheath and Greenwich for the start of the race on Sunday morning. At one end of the field you have Mo Farah taking on the world record holder, the world and Olympic champion, the course record holder and last year's winner in a battle that is likely to see them running at around 4:45mpm for the full distance.
At the other end of the scale there will be thousands of people simply aiming to complete the course in six, seven and even eight hours for charity for pride and just to get the famous medal that says "I have done it". As a club, for this year's race we have eight people who will all be donning the purple and yellow for the day and should all be somewhere between Mo and the sweeping trucks. Here is a very brief run-down of where they all are;
Clay, Nick – Our venerable lead coach has run many marathons and after deferring last year due to injury has had his best preparation since becoming a V40. The rest are his own words; "A light XC season has enabled me to come out the other side almost in one piece. With a 13 week training schedule, planned from mid January that has gone to plan with a few extra rest days thrown in for good measure.
Confidence from the one 20 miler at race pace and the Sandy 10 have set me up well for good for age (3.15), that is the aim, on the off chance that I can run in a couple of years time with Jordan when he is old enough next April. But my main aim is to not have Mo finish while I am only half way round like the Bupa 10km last year!"
Crossland, Helen – After amazingly completing the Brighton marathon just seven days before Helen is just hoping that her tired legs will get her around. A longish cycle ride and a gentle trot will be her attempt to get the legs going again. With the weariness of Brighton in her legs, beating her PB of 5:03 seems unlikely, but you can absolutely guarantee that she will enjoy herself.
Grimshaw, Ian – This will be Ian's fifth marathon and third attempt at the London course he knows so well through working at Canary Wharf. He qualified for the race with 3:04 in Brighton last year and his thoughts ahead of the day are; "My training has gone pretty well and I'm hoping to keep going at 6;40mpm pace for as long as possible to get under 3 hours. I did this for 22 in my last long run so hoping I can keep going for another 4. I am trying to visualise RUNNING along the Embankment, up Birdcage Walk and then finally into the Mall!"
Hurley, Joe – Joe's participation is a little doubtful due to a very bad back, although he claims it is getting better and as of today says he is 50/50 to run. Those who have followed Joe's running down the years will be fully aware that injuries are an annual occurrence for him and yet it is a rare sight for London to happen without him in the throng. He thinks it could be the "height of foolishness" to run, but would you expect anything else?
Inchley, Amy – This is Amy's second attempt at London after the previous one ended up in A&E with a sprained ankle. She is certainly in the form of her life over the shorter distances so must be full of confidence as she has also done a good series of long runs, even if illness at Oakley cut off her last one. She is one of six who qualified through the "Good for Age" method in 2013, but she had to defer last year when seven months pregnant. A PB is a minimum target for Amy and we will see from there.
Owens, Kate – As usual, Kate has been keeping herself to herself in terms of racing so we don't really know how she is running at the moment, but as a marathon specialist who smashed the club record in Brighton last year, the chances are she will be on good form come the big day. One would imagine that 3:23:53 is her target time for her first attempt at London. She is running for the British Heart Foundation and will gladly accept sponsorship from anyone willing to give.
Rose, Warren – Having entered the club ballot for a few years running, Warren finally had his name pulled out last November so will be making his debut on the London course. His marathon PB of 3:21:53 stands from the hideous conditions of the first MK marathon in 2012 so it's likely he'll be hoping for torrential rain and a howling gale come Sunday morning, just to make him feel at home! He's been running pretty consistently so shouldn't be too far off a PB given a decent run.
Stratford, Gary – As usual Gary has timed his form to perfection and so in his words; "Training has gone well with the evidence shown at the Sandy 10. However I have learned there are a number of 'on the day' factors that also make up the pieces of the marathon jigsaw, so I'm trying to keep a lid on my growing confidence, but I'd be lying if I didn't have an ambitious target in mind." With a fair wind I guess Gary's 2:57 PB may be under threat.
In addition to the runners, there will be a small collection of club members on the course at 26 miles doing the usual "bandit catching" role and Tom May and Uncle Pete will be leading a support team to the course before adjourning to a hostelry for post race rehydration and stories from the day. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to come along and sample the atmosphere.
For those wishing to join the support team. Tom is aiming to catch the 8:20 from LB station.