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Charlotte Purdue (GBR) poses for a portrait after taking part in a virtual press conference at the official hotel in the biosecure bubble

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30-09-2021
6

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Britain’s best have points to prove as they seek GB selection

To stand on the start line of an Olympic trials marathon you have to be 100 per cent ready to go and I just wasn’t there. It was really unlucky but it is what it is and that’s sport.

Jonny Mellor

Thankfully, Mellor added, training has been good since and the ankle injury is well and truly behind him.

Gaining confidence

“This will be my 10th marathon and with every one I am gaining confidence and learning more about the distance,” he said. “Winning last year gave me confidence, especially with the conditions, so hopefully I can do that again this year.

“My goal is to run inside [the qualifying time of] 2:11:30 and finish as first Brit but equally I’m not thinking too far ahead. I want to finish Sunday and then it would be nice to have a selection of races to pick after that.”

Purdue was initially ‘shocked’ by her absence from the women’s team for Tokyo, and appealed against the decision, but says now that running well at the London Marathon is just as important.

“Obviously I was disappointed but I quickly focused on something else and having the London Marathon was a great thing to aim for,” she said.

“I always want to run every year. For me the London Marathon is as exciting as the Olympics, so I put all my focus into training for this race.”

Best-ever marathon training

She certainly comes to the British capital in the mood to make amends after setting a course record when winning her third Big Half title last month and enjoying what she described on Thursday as her best-ever period of marathon training.

“I couldn’t really have asked for better preparation,” she said. “Everything has gone better than I expected.

This will be my seventh marathon and every time I find the training a bit easier and can push it a bit more. I always look back on my training diary and this time everything has gone better than it ever has before.

Charlotte Purdue

“This will be my seventh marathon and every time I find the training a bit easier and can push it a bit more. I always look back on my training diary and this time everything has gone better than it ever has before.”

So well, in fact, that Purdue is targeting Yamauchi’s 2:23:12 to go second on the GB all-time list, having slipped to fourth behind Jess Piasecki at the end of 2019.

“It’s very weather dependent but I’ve got Mara’s 2:23 in my head,” she said.

Such a time would certainly make it hard to leave her out of any of next summer’s championship teams, whether she goes for the Eugene Worlds, the Europeans or the Commonwealth Games.

“I haven’t decided what my plans will be for next year yet, so I’ll have to decide which one I go for,” she said. “At the moment I haven’t thought past Sunday.”

Whirlwind rise to the elite

First, of course, she’s got to finish ahead of her British rivals in London, including last year’s domestic champion, Natasha Cockram, who’s hoping to break the 2:30 barrier and set a new Welsh record, and Sam Harrison, who has enjoyed a ‘whirlwind’ rise from club runner to the elite Start Line over the last three years.

“I definitely want a PB and to bring the Welsh record down into the 2:20s,” said Cockram, whose best of 2:30:49 was set in Dublin two years ago.

“This is my first marathon injury free and completely pain free, so I’m really looking forward to it. My training hasn’t been quite as intense as normal, but I think being injury free is more important.”

Harrison’s marathon best is a modest 2:51:33, but she has run faster even than Purdue over the half marathon distance this year and is primed to leave her mark on the longer race.

“It will definitely be a PB on Sunday, that’s for sure,” she said. “But I hope it’s a big PB. We’ll see what we can pull out on the day.

“I’m looking forward to giving it a real good shot. I want to get a qualifying time for one of the three championships next year. That would be a dream come true.”

Every athlete’s dream

It would be a dream for Mellor’s biggest rivals too, especially Mohamud Aadan, who was third at the Olympic trials on his marathon debut six months ago, clocking 2:12:20, a time he needs to improve by less than a minute to be in with a shout of selection.

“It’s the dream of every athlete to represent their country and wear the national vest. It would make me proud, so it’s a massive goal to do well in London,” said the 31-year-old.

“The trials showed me the marathon is the right distance for me and I am confident I can improve. I know what the journey is now and to what to expect. I know what I need to do to perform at my best.”

Joshua Griffiths meanwhile will need to improve by almost two minutes to make the Worlds team, but says he will have ‘no excuses’ for a poor performance on Sunday after enjoying a summer build-up in fine weather conditions.

Advantages of autumn

“I much prefer preparing for an autumn marathon because the weather is much fairer. It’s much easier to get quality training,” said the Welshman, whose was a surprise British winner back in 2017 when he emerged from the club race to place 13th overall.

“If I can reproduce my race for 2017 it will be a good day,” said Griffiths. “Training this time has been a lot smoother, so there are no excuses on Sunday.

It will be an even better one if he can hit second race target too – setting a world best for a combined father/son marathon with his dad, Nick Griffiths, who is also running on Sunday.

The current ‘record’ stands at 4:59:22 and with Josh’s best at 2:1311 and dad Nick running 2:47:17 this year, the pair believe they have a realistic chance.

“He’s running really well for a 52-year-old,” said the younger Griffiths, who is also his father’s coach. “If there’s a chance we can do it, it will be pretty awesome.

“But I think we’ll both just focus on our own races and then we’ll see what happens.”

Whatever happens for the Griffiths family, the race for British honours in Sunday’s Virgin Money London Marathon is set to be as intriguing as ever.