Previous London Marathon champions Paula Radcliffe, Liz McColgan, Ingrid Kristiansen and Catherina McKiernan share their thoughts on this year’s event
What does the London Marathon mean to you?
Kristiansen: I have a great memory from my time in London. It is very well known in Norway. It brings a great atmosphere and is always competitive.
McColgan: It is one of those iconic races that is held in the UK. The exposure it receives is fantastic, for elite athletes and those who are in the mass participation races. To be British and to win here is a double whammy as it is in front of the home crowd. That emotion is impossible to find elsewhere. It is one of my favourites, whether I ran well or badly! When I won, I felt as though I was sharing something very special with those I was running with, and those watching on from the streets.
Radcliffe: It is part of running culture in this country. I grew up. I stood by the side of the road and watched Ingrid set the world record while waiting for my dad to come past – he was a long time after! Being bitten by the bug of being part of this carnival is so special. It became a serious part of my April schedule when I was an athlete and even then I wanted to get my runs done in time so I could watch the races afterwards. Then I took part, and then being able to start the mass participation in 2015 was very special. It is a global coming together of the running community and we are privileged to have that.
McKiernan: It is a fantastic race and coming from Ireland we always watched it, despite not being a huge athletics family. We all gathered around the TV to watch it in April. I never dreamed when I was running around the fields of wheat on my family farm that I would grow up to compete, let alone win. Running this is a big deal and something to cherish.
What do you think of this year’s elite fields?
Radcliffe: Trying to pick a winner from the calibre and quality of this field is so difficult. I don’t think the London Marathon has ever made it easy for home talent making a debut. It will be a fascinating race – I am not sure if the weather will be conducive to fast times or more cagey racing but the quality is undeniable. Sifan has the speed, Bridgid is the world record holder and Peres will need to make it fast at the start. It is a strong field.
McColgan: At this level, it is about giving it your best. The London Marathon never makes it easy as the field is the best in the world. I expect fireworks and fantastic racing. When you get the opportunity to stand on that Start Line, anything is possible when the gun goes.
What is your advice for mass participants?
Kristiansen: Go out and believe in your preparation. Have fun and don’t push too hard in the beginning.
McColgan: Stick to your game plan. Now is not the time to try anything new. Deliver the race you have prepared for.
Radcliffe: When I ran for the first time, my dad told me: “The marathon is something you have to respect but not be afraid of”. Don’t be stressed by those people in front of you – the race will open up, so stick to that preparation.
What are your thoughts on Trees for Tees?
Radcliffe: It is a brilliant initiative. The running community has a lot more perspective now and can put a lot more value on the importance of the environment and the world we live in. the marathon makes a difference – the fact people are running and there are fewer cars on the road brings cleaner air. There are only a certain number of T-shirts you can fit in the cupboard or medals you can hang somewhere, so planting a tree to make a difference for the future is something we can all get behind. We want our children and grandchildren to be able to breathe in clean air and compete in events like this for many years to come.