Seven ESM athletes tackled the London Marathon this Spring – exactly the same number as last year, though this year it was an all-male affair. After the warm conditions experienced by club members at the Brighton Marathon two weeks earlier, pre-race preparations included anxious monitoring of the weather forecasts. They needn’t have worried: for the second year in a row, the bright mild conditions were close to ideal, as proven by the numerous records broken in the elite fields.
The first three to finish for the club were all running their first marathon, and all three produced performances that will gain them an automatic place next year. Santosh Rai was first to finish, just two minutes outside the 3-hour mark, displaying impressive pace judgement with his negative splits of 1:31:38 and 1:30:49. Next home was V45 James Steel, who slowed a little in the later stages of the race, but was also satisfied with his finish time of 3:08:14, well inside the good-for-age qualifying time of 3:15. V40 Jez Etherington was just a minute behind with 3:09:17 and was another to show great pace judgement with his splits of 1:34:33 and 1:34:44.
At the other end of the experience spectrum, Steve Plummer is something of a marathon specialist. Not satisfied with his PB of 3:04:08 at Boston six days previously, he set out with the expressed intention of “just enjoying himself” at London. He commented afterwards that his legs had started to hurt after about 4 miles, but that didn’t stop him clocking 3:13:21! He and Santosh ran together for around 11 miles of the course – as seen in the photo above – but Steve fell off the pace during the last few kilometres. (Indeed, he stopped in the closing stages to help a runner in trouble – see photo). So far, Steve’s marathons have taken him to Berlin, Manchester, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Paris. His current target is the special medal awarded to those who complete the Six Majors. (Next stop Chicago this autumn, followed by Tokyo in the Spring of 2018 and New York in the autumn).
Yu Kawachi of Ealing Tri has little previous road racing experience, according to his Power of 10 profile, so his 3:44:03 was a good first performance, with only a slight loss of pace in the second half.
Andy Leung is an experienced marathon runner, with at least six previous outings over the distance and a previous best of 3:50:18 from Rotterdam in 2014. He expressed some disappointment with his 3:48:55 at London this year, but it was a PB, despite him slowing significantly after the 30k mark.
Steve Cliff had only run his first marathon at Brighton two weeks previously, where he struggled in the heat like everyone else. It was little surprise that he struggled in the second half of the race and was pleased just to finish. Steve also took the opportunity to raise money for a charity close to his heart.
One record we did beat this year was the proportion of our runners not racing in the club vest. The London Marathon is an England Athletics club championship event, so can we try and do a bit better next year, guys?
That aside, well done to all our athletes, and thanks to the many club members who lined the streets to cheer them on.
ESM results summary
Santosh Rai 3:02:27; James Steel (V45) 3:08:14; Jeremy Etherington (V40) 3:09:17; Stephen Plummer (V50) 3:13:21; Yu Kawachi (V40) 3:44:03; Andy Leung (V40) 3:48:55; Stephen Cliff (V40) 4:56:19