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virgin london marathon

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Susan Partridge
Susan Partridge at the 2012 Virgin London Marathon

There will be a strong British presence in the elite fields of the Virgin London Marathon on Sunday as the country’s best marathon runners look to secure selection for the IAAF World Championships in Moscow in August.

Lee Merrien (coach: John Nuttall), Derek Hawkins (Lawrie Spence) and Scott Overall (Robbie Chapman) all hold the qualifying standard of 2:14:30 from 2012, but Hawkins and Overall will both line 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 will have his sights set on bettering that this weekend. Overall represented Team GB at the Olympic Games last summer, finishing 61st in a time of 2:22:37 after setting a personal best of 2:10:55 in Berlin the previous year, and will be looking to clinch selection for a second consecutive global championship.

Thomas Abyu has the quickest time on paper of all the British entrants with a personal best of 2:10:37 from 2007, while former national half marathon champion Phil Wicks will hope to better his time of 2:15:38 from his only previous marathon appearance in 2011.

Double Olympic champion Mo Farah (Alberto Salazar) will run the first half of this year’s Virgin London Marathon as he prepares to run his first ever full marathon at next year’s event.

In the women’s race, British representation has been hit by the withdrawal of the likes of former European 3,000m Indoor champion Helen Clitheroe (John Nuttall) and Freya Ross meaning that none of the three athletes (Ross, Claire Hallissey and Sonia Samuels) who have achieved the IAAF World Championships qualifying mark of 2:31:00 will participate in this year’s Virgin London Marathon.

The pick of the British women this weekend will therefore be Susan Partridge (John Montgomery) and Amy Whitehead (George Gandy). 33 year old Partridge will run her 11th marathon as she bids to knock just over three minutes from her best time of 2:34:13 to give her a chance of World Championships selection.

Whitehead has remarkably knocked 20 minutes from her personal best since her first marathon six years ago and needs to improve by just another two and a half minutes to secure the qualifying mark for August.

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