Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Reflections on London

All too often sports events fail to live up to the hype but this year the Flora London Marathon really delivered. The quality at the front is hard to put into words. With a group of 9 going through halfway on world record pace and then slugging it out for podium positions in the closing miles this really was one of the best marathons i've seen. The first three all ran 2.05 and 3rd-5th ran the fastest times ever for that position. Not many people would have believed that you could run 2.06.17 and only finish 5th ! And all that in the face of wind and rain and in the closing miles which undoubtedly slowed proceeedings.

My clubmates had a good day with Al Jones and Tim Hawkins both going sub 2.40 for the first time with 2.38 and 2.39 respectively and a combined improvement of nearly 15 minutes which just goes to show what you can do with thorough preparation. Jon Gilling was just outside his PB with 2.43 and I'm sure that Tim and Al's runs will have convinced him that he can be in the 2.30s next time out. And Paul Rose also ran a sub 2.45 to book a championship start again for next year. Top of the ladies pile was Jenny Moore with another near miss at the 3 hour mark.

Best of the Brits was Dan Robinson who ran a PB and another well judged race while Tom Abyu committed himself to go with OQ pace but slowed in the second half. His third marathon in 6th months and some recent ill health making the task just too big. Toby Lambert ran his first sub 2.20 and while he will have been hoping for a bit faster I'm sure he will be relieved to finally get a good marathon under his belt. With only 4 guys under 2.20 this was hardly a vintage year for british mens marathoning. No doubt the armchair coaches will be having a raging debate on the internet message boards as to what needs to be done but if you look back 5 years at the long mid-distances its clear that we are now reaping what we sowed with a lost generation of distance runners.

The good news is that the young guys starting out seem to be making good progress. The team for the world cross this year contained plenty of guys just out of uni and they need to push on now and that will feed through into the marathon in future. There is definitely some good stuff going on in the US which we need to tap into with several of the World Cross Team being based there and just last week my Butler Uni based Wells team mate Andy Baker ran 13.55 for 5000m.

If I was an ambitious 22 year old and I hadn't got the speed to compete at the mile I would plan for the marathon right now with a view to a 2011 debut as a 25 year old. If its good enough for Hall, Ritz and Wanjiru ...


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