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Virgin London Marathon

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Susan Partridge

21 April 2013

The focus for most of the British elite runners at today’s Virgin London Marathon was to secure a place at this summer’s IAAF World Championships in Moscow this August.

A host of British athletes were vying for selection led by the likes of Scott Overall (Robbie Chapman), Derek Hawkins (Robert Hawkins), Phil Wicks, Susan Partridge (Steve Jones) and Amy Whitehead (George Gandy).

Also attracting much GB interest in the field was London 2012 double Olympic champion Mo Farah (Alberto Salazaar) who made a guest appearance at this year’s marathon, running only half the course before competing over 26.2 miles next year.

Women’s Elite

None of the British women in the field held the World Championships qualifying time of 02:31.00 and with withdrawals from former European 3000m Indoor champion Helen Clitheroe and London 2012 marathon runner Freya Ross, in the weeks running up to the Virgin London Marathon, all eyes looked towards Partridge and Whitehead in their quest to secure the time.

And it was Susan Partridge who led the British charge from beginning to end. Both Partridge and Whitehead went out quickly, but a gap between the two started to open just after the halfway point.

“After being indecisive last year and being left behind, I decided I was going to hang on no matter what,” said the Leeds City athlete who went through the first mile in a quick 5:30.

“Amy (Amy Whitehead) and I were holding on, but it was a risky strategy. I knew it was way too fast but I didn’t want to be left isolated. There were a couple of athletes who came and went from the group, but it was a bit inconsistent and not even paced.”

Partridge,  has just returned from a training stint in Boulder, Colorado (USA) alongside fellow Brit Amy Whitehead.

“At five miles I could see the leaders and for that split second you wonder if they’re all having a bad day and that maybe you can win,” admitted Partridge, who went through half way in 1:13:50. “I did worry about running out of steam, but it was worth the risk after last year.

“Most of the time there were people around me, and when I reached 20 miles I passed the South African (Irvette Van Zyl), so I knew I must be running at a reasonable pace. I knew roughly how I was going and at that point I was hoping to go under 2:30:00, but the main aim was to qualify for the World Championships and I’m really pleased with how I ran to do that.”

Partridge crossed the line in ninth position with 02:30:46 – shaving over four minutes off her marathon PB and securing an automatic spot on the GB & NI team in Moscow this summer.

Whilst Whitehead couldn’t quite keep the same pace as Partridge and finished further back in 13th in 02:34:14, she was still pleased with her performance:

“I gave it my all today so there’s no excuses. My preparation and build-up hasn’t been great, but I was on the line and I felt fine. The pacemakers were a bit fast for me I think, so that’s why I was left on my own for a large part of the race.

“One thing I must say there were so many people shouting my name, and it really does help.”

Up at the front of the women's elite race, Kenyan Priscah Jeptoo, who finished second here last year, went one better in 2013 to take the title ahead of team mate Edna Kiplagat in a time of 02:20.15.

 

Men’s Elite

Mo Farah was the talk of the town in the build-up to the marathon following an announcement in February that he would contest only half of the course before completing the full distance in 2014.

For Farah, this year was all about gaining experience in marathon running and he came off the course just before the halfway point feeling good about the experience,

“I felt good. The crowd were absolutely awesome. They just want to make you go. I really got excited in the middle of the race, but you have to let the guys do their race. It’s their race.

“The biggest challenge is really picking up your drinks, make sure you have good fluids. I stopped one time and had to go back. It’s really hard. I need to do a lot more training.

“But the crowds were amazing. I really appreciate the opportunity the Virgin London Marathon have given me and I am looking forward to the full marathon next year.”

From a GB standpoint, Lee Merrien (coach: John Nuttall), Derek Hawkins (Robert Hawkins) and Scott Overall (Robbie Chapman) all hold the World Championship qualifying standard of 2:14:30 from 2012 going into today‘s race, with Hawkins and Overall lining up in an attempt to lower their personal bests and finish as the first Brit home.

 Hawkins had a breakthrough performance in his marathon debut running 2:14:04 in Frankfurt last September and had his sights firmly set on improving that this weekend. For the first half of the race Hawkins trailed Scott Overall, until just after the 25km mark when Overall pulled out of the race.

Overall said: “I got to 25k and just never felt comfortable. I think the interrupted build up had meant I wasn't 100%.

“I had 16 days of no running because of my knee injury and those two weeks without training didn't help. My injury is fine now but it was a lack of preparation today.”

Taking the opportunity, Hawkins maintained the leading British position, opening up a gap of over two minutes between himself and nearest British rival Phil Wicks, finishing in 13th, just outside the qualifying standard in 02:16:50.

"I felt fine on the start line and my preparation was good but I just didn't feel comfortable during the race. I don't know what it was, I just didn't feel comfortable.

"I'm disappointed not to get the A standard today and I don't know what the selectors are going to do - I just don't know. I want to go to Moscow but I just don't know what they'll do.

 Former national half marathon champion Phil Wicks hoped to better his time of 2:15:38 from his previous marathon appearance in 2011, but was 15th in 02:19:07, whilst Kent AC enjoyed a strong showing with Paul Pollock finishing in 2.17.10 followed by John Gilbert in 2.17.43.

Selectors for the IAAF World Championships meet on Monday to confirm the marathon representatives for Moscow this summer.

At the front of the elite field Ethiopian Tsegaye Kebede took his second London Marathon title of his career after winning the race back in 2010. In a thrilling race, the pack were chasing a world record time early on, but it was not to be as Kebede won the race in 02:06:04.

Elite Wheelchair

In the elite wheelchair races,the familiar faces of David Weir (Jenny Archer) and Shelly Woods (Jenni Banks) headed the fields having won a remarkable eight Virgin London Marathon titles between them, with Weir collecting a total of six since his first appearance in 2002.

Weir was aiming for a record-breaking seventh this weekend but it wasnt to be after he finished fifth in 01:31:31.

Weir sat in the top three for most of the course before being out-sprinted in the closing stages by Australia's Kurt Fearnley who finished first and Marcel Hug of Switzerland who finished second.

In the women’s wheelchair race, Shelly Woods also relinquished her London Marathon crown finishing fifth in 1:50:44.

IPC Athletics World Cup

This year’s Virgin London Marathon featured a new set of races for disability athletes called the IPC Athletics World Cup, which included races for athletes with visual impairments (T11-13) or limb impairments (T42-46) .

The only British runner in the field was Richard Whitehead, who won gold in the T42 200m at last year’s Paralympic Games and hold world records for double amputee (T42) athletes in both half and full marathon. Whitehead was unable to replicate that form finishing the course in 03:15:53 but met by rapturous support throughout the course.


 

For results visit http://results-2013.virginlondonmarathon.com/2013/