Is First Briton Enough to Secure Olympic Place for Claire at London Marathon?

22 Apr

Whilst Claire Hallissey was clearly the club star in the London Marathon there were at least 12 other club athletes involved in the event and each of them will get a mention here. (Sorry if there are any I have overlooked).

To begin with Claire, what can I say? As her coach for three years I always knew that she was a tough competitor and that her pace judgement is superb but that still didn’t stop me watching anxiously as she hit the front in the ‘Battle of Britain’ but Freya Murray hung on determinedly right to the end.  Claire was looking to run sub-2:28 to hopefully get the nod where Olympic selection is concerned over Club Life Member Jo Pavey – we must now wait for the selectors to make their decision tomorrow. I will sleep with everything crossed. Claire’s finishing time was a fantastic 2:27:44. Not far behind Freya made an excellent debut over the distance and 2:28:10 is a performance to be proud of and her coach, former World Marathon Recoprd holder and ex-Bristol Athletic Club athlete, Steve Jones will probably be disappointed for Freya. I wouldn’t write off both ladies running in the Olympics as much can happen in the next 95 days and there is no guarantee that both pre-selectees will be illness or injury free come the Women’s Olympic Marathon.

In the Men’s Race Richard Hobby ran a quick first half but after going through in 69:57 I am sorry to report that he didn’t finish. Angus MacLean also started quickly (but not as quickly as Rich) and after passing half-way in 72:11 hung on to finish 440th in 2:47:52 and is sure to be disappointed with his 1:35:41 for the second half. Next home for the Club was Matt Varley who ran two fairly even paced halves to go through in 1:26:13 and finish in 2:56:31in 874th place. Not far behind him was Amy Stiles Chalk who had a 5-minute lead on him at half way but after going through the mid-way point in 81:12, Amy slowed on the second half to record 2:56:50.

Next home was Tom Kingsnorth who was ten seconds in front of Amy at half-way in 81:02 but who slowed to a 3:04:07 finish by the end. Gareth Cullen was next in 1,707th position – Gareth hit mid-way in 1:31:14 and clocked 3:06:38 for the full distance. Eighty-seven places behind Gareth was Julia Belyavin who passed half-way in 90:33 not too far outside her sub-3-hour goal but a second half in 97:02 gave her a finishing time of 3:07:35 for 1,794th in the race and 104th female finisher. Andy White finished 2,346th in 3:12:51 with newcomer Peter Gandon 5,917th in 3:38:14. Nicky Bromhall was fifth club lady home in 3:50:42 and a lack of training through recent knee problems told for Nicky as a 1:48:00 first half was followed by a 2:02:42 second half to give her a 3:50:42 clocking. Finally, Andy Dunn was the only club finisher over 4 hours after a 1:40:43 first half saw him really struggle towards the finish. Nevertheless he kept going to come home 12,517th position in 4:06:16.

I have done some calculations and by my reckoning our three fastest ladies accumulated time was 8:32:09 and I am sure that not too many teams will have beaten that time – so I await the Women’s Team Result with interest.

Well done to everyone from the club who completed the race but I can’t help finishing with another well done to Claire – great coverage and lots of mentions of Bristol & West AC – you have helped put the club back on the marathon map.

Keith Brackstone Reports.