Today, it seemed only the kenyans did NOT suffer from heat and dehydration, with Geoffrey Mutai and Mary Keitany setting world leading times in the 2011 Virgin London Marathon.
Mutai’s time of of 2.04.40 took half a minute off the course record.
With temperatures a cloudy 9 degrees at the start, it looked like today was going to see perfect racing conditions.
However, when the sun came out around 11am it became clear that fuelling and hydration were going to be very important for the runners.
Jim Benson ran a comfortable first half and his splits seemed to suggest recent illness had been forgotten about. Jim went through half way in 1.18.26.
Gladys Ganiel O’Neill (Abbey AC) but coached by Ray Tracey and Belfast Senior Coach of the Year, Matt Shields – was just a few yards ahead, going through half way in 1.18.17.
Greg McClure was his usual consistent self – going through 1.29.04. Lisa Sturgeon was through half way in 1.30.57 so her pre race target of “sub 3” and a pb was still a possibility at that point.
However, soon after half way (Tower Bridge) the gap between Jim and Gladys had widened and by 30km, Gladys was 2 and a half minutes up on Jim (1.51.33 to 1.54.09).
Lisa was running strongly although her paced had dropped by this point – and it was no coincidence temperatures were rising quickly at this stage too.
Gerry McNamara, who had trained so hard for this year, was to be the first victim to the heat, dropping out around 15 miles.
Gerry will be gutted about his performance today but dropping out may have been best thing to do in the circumstances. We’re sure his day and “sub 3” aren’t too far off – perhaps a cooler day in Belfast or Newry might see a more successful attempt?
Back with the leaders and Gladys was still running strongly – passing 35km in 2.11.18 – her splits still consistent (although dropping a bit). Jim had resigned himself to a run in the mid 2.40’s at this point.
Lisa’s pace had slowed by this stage too. However, she really held it together over the last 10km despite the heat. On the other hand, Greg McClure was running as strong as he was at any stage in the race. His splits showing metronomic pacing.
Coming through Bird Cage Walk and past Buckingham Palace, the BBC’s interactive tv coverage focussed on Gladys’s finish.
Glady’s performance (second female from the mass start) would have graced the elite race – her time faster than many more established GB and International runners, including Liz Yelling.
Gladys’s finish time of 2.41.22 was a new personal best by almost 20 seconds. Commenting on her performance after the race, she said: “While I got another PB I am disappointed particularly as the first half had gone well when the sky was overcast and I was on 6 minutes mile pace. However, after that I suffered in the heat particularly in the last 6 miles. The final 2 miles were a real challenge -I had trouble standing at the end“.
Jim Benson recorded a time of 2.44.46 – splits here
“Mr Consistent” Greg McClure posted another sub 3 – in a time of 2.59 – splits here
Lisa posted a hugely creditable 3.09 – splits here
Gladys’s splits here