The reigning Olympic 5000m and 10,000m champion Sifan Hassan added the 2023 TCS London Marathon crown to her victories yesterday as she made her debut at the distance.
On winning the 2023 TCS London Marathon:
“I feel amazing, I feel drained, to come through, but it was amazing. I feel like just now I’ve started believing it, seriously, I’m not lying, I couldn’t believe it. For the first 10, 20 minutes, I couldn’t believe, I’m really happy, I can’t explain, I’m so grateful.”
On waking up as champion this morning:
“Most of the time, whenever I have a race I couldn’t sleep, but yesterday I wake up in the morning and was like ‘Here we go, finish London’. I remember couple days ago I was like I’ve got one day left, I’ve got two days left, why I do this to myself, every time I wake up I was like I hope London Marathon comes today. Today when I wake up, I had a great sleep and I was like yes, I did the London Marathon, I finish and I win also, so I was happy when I wake up. I’m so grateful when I wake up.
“I have great respect for the marathon and for the people who do the marathon.”
On the atmosphere:
“It was really great. I had a lot of issues when I entered the race. I was so scared, so scared of the marathon like how the hell am I going to do 42km, how I’m going to run. Because your heart is pumping almost to the limit and you’re going to run two hours… and be focusing and running and carry all your kilos around for two hours for three hours. I was like telling myself how I’m going to do this, this is the most hardest thing I have challenge, but when I started, I was like what I'm going to do, when is the pain going to stop. Suddenly I felt something bother me in my leg... I was busy with the leg… how long I’m going to go, I wish I go 25K, at 13K, I can’t get more spirit, I was just so busy with the leg.
“The crowd at the London Marathon is amazing, the people are so amazing, cheering calling my name whenever I’m close to the crowd, I feel like I’m close to 400 people... The way they cheer is like I’m catching them: ‘Sifan’. I feel more energy, I get a lot of energy from the crowd, it’s amazing. There were a lot of people running and cheering.”
On whether she considered pulling out of the race:
“Yes many times, whenever I start to stretch, I thought I can’t go on, but I was thinking to myself ‘okay Sifan here we go’. I wanted to get into the marathon spirit but I started these issues, so I started stretching and I was like let me actually go more than 21K, I want to try and go more than 21K. Then I start to not run, but even like walking… I was like on 21K and I was like thank god I can go two three more kilometres get little bit more spirit from the marathon. I was so tired but I was so grateful for every kilometre, at 25 I was so happy, I was like this is good I reached 25K so I know a little bit about the marathon. When I was on 13K my leg kind of dropped, I didn’t feel it but I was like here we go I’m at 13… I’m going to challenge the marathon pain but I was feeling better.
“I was shocked when I was with the group, when they were ‘we’ve got a winner’ I was actually shocked. I was with the three and when I passed amazing athletes, there were 11 athletes that run sub-2:20, how the hell did I pass these people… I was already celebrating before I finish, not to win but the view, I was already very happy.”
On how the race unfolded:
“I was seeing all the way leader, I have a lot of energy, but for some reason the first 5K I struggle, it was the opposite. So, when people struggle it’s the last 5K, but I was struggling even breathing. I was like I’m already suffering at 5K, how am I going to go 42K.
“I was counting, oh my god at 35K left I’m already suffering. Then at 10K I was so tired and thinking I have 32K left, but after that I seen them I feel so much energy I could even sprint to catch them… But the problem when I little bit increase their legs are catching me, I was like here we go, so I have to calm down, their legs controlled me.”
On reaching the lead group:
“No, I wasn’t thinking that, I was just so happy I was like whatever, I don’t care I’m with the three… I was even looking the time I was running… I don’t care number three or five that I finish with the group I’m grateful, suddenly at 200m I saw the Finish Line, but I don’t want to move… Until the end I thought I don’t want to move, maybe I just stay with them and see what happens.”
On the emotions she felt when she crossed the Finish Line:
“When I was kicking, I was like I kicked then I thought somebody was going to kick me. I couldn’t believe it was the Finish Line. I thought maybe I’m wrong, maybe there’s a couple of kilometres to go so I didn’t kick 100 per cent… Me winning, I just can’t believe it, you’re kidding me. I was so happy, I couldn’t believe it at all.”
On preparing for the TCS London Marathon during Ramadan:
“Two months before, when I decided to run the marathon, I don’t know when I decide to run actually, I was asking myself questions when I decide I talk to my manager, why the hell I decide this time… I remember two months ago he ask me which marathon do you want and I said London, they told me it’s Ramadan but I don’t want to worry about this, I just want to run London. I say I’m not going to fast, it’s OK if I don't run fast also, but then in my heart I’m like 100 per cent I’m going to fast.
“When Ramadan is coming, I was so worried, they sit down with me, I can’t stop fasting, so that was the most challenge, I don’t have confidence for this marathon, I don’t have great preparation as I was fasting. They told me you know you have to practise the drinking, but I can’t do that. So yesterday, and that’s the problem, I don’t know how to drink, I don’t know when to drink.
“When I drink I couldn’t breathe, the air doesn’t come in because I didn’t learn how to drink and how to breathe and the first 25K, 13K was the hardest for me to drink. But luckily I didn’t have any stomach issue and that’s what I was really scared of and the whole month I was doing like 400K during Ramadan is the hardest.”
On balancing marathons with track in the future:
“I really enjoyed the marathon, I even enjoyed the journey, the pain in leg is weird, I hope I don’t have this next time. I really enjoyed it, especially after I finish. I want to do marathons but also want to stay on the track.”