The five-time Olympian has been added to a stellar women’s field
Jo Pavey is to run the Virgin Money London Marathon on April 23 as the five-time Olympian targets a PB and a spot on the GB team for the 26.2-mile event at this summer’s IAAF World Championships in London.
The 43-year-old became Britain’s first female track athlete to compete at five Olympic Games last year when she contested the 10,000m in Rio and she now plans to step up in distance to run the London Marathon for the first time since 2011.
“I’m always looking for a new challenge,” said Pavey. “Last year was all about making a fifth Olympic Games and after I had done that I started to think about my next challenge.
“I have been thinking about doing a marathon again for the past few years and for a British athlete the London Marathon – with the amazing home crowds and the iconic course – is the pinnacle. I wanted to be sure I was injury-free and could crack on with my training before committing which I am and I’m really excited about the challenge.
“I would love to qualify for the World Championships in London,” she added. “I know it’s a tough ask, but it is an exciting challenge to think about the possibility of representing my country over distances from the 1500m right up to the marathon. It’s also an event where I think I have the possibility of running a PB and that is also a massive target of mine.”
Pavey’s marathon PB was set on her debut at the distance at the 2011 Virgin Money London Marathon when she finished in 2:28:24 and she went on to run 2:28:42 in New York later that year. Qualifying for a place at the World Championships in August will require her to run inside 2:36:00 and be one of the top two British finishers at the London Marathon, which again acts as British Athletics’ trial race.
“I know it’s not going to be easy,” Pavey said. “There are lots of good girls in the field like Alyson Dixon, Charlotte Purdue, Louise Damen and Susan Partridge who all want the same thing.”
Beyond the battle of Britain, Pavey is excited about standing on the start line with one of the finest collection of female marathon runners ever assembled.
She said: “It’s an amazing line-up with runners like Jemima Sumgong (the 2016 Virgin Money London Marathon winner and Olympic champion) and Mary Keitany (the 2016 New York Marathon champion), as well as someone like Tirunesh Dibaba who has been such a legend on the track you forget she has run 2:20:35 for the marathon.”
The competition for places on the GB men’s team for the World Championships has also intensified with the addition of another of Britain’s Rio Olympians to the elite men’s field.
Tsegai Tewelde produced one of the shocks of the day at the 2016 London Marathon when he was the second Briton home behind Callum Hawkins. The then virtually unknown Tewelde, who came to Britain as an asylum seeker following the 2008 World Cross Country Championships in Edinburgh, ran 2:12:23 on his debut to gain Team GB selection for Rio. But the former Eritrean was forced to drop out of the Olympic marathon and is now keen to make amends by winning a place for London 2017.
“I loved running at the London Marathon last year and I am delighted to be part of the elite field again in 2017,” said the 27-year-old. “After running so well in 2016, I hope the London Marathon will inspire me again to find my best form. Obviously, the Rio Olympics didn’t go to plan for me but I will be doing my best to win selection for the British team for the World Championships in London this summer.”
With Hawkins’ name already on the team sheet for the World Championships, Tewelde must finish as one of the top two British men. London 2012 Olympian Scott Overall has also joined the field and there are three athletes who have already achieved British Athletics’ qualifying standard of 2:16:00 – former European 10,000m silver medallist Chris Thompson, Matthew Bond from Sale Harriers and Scotland’s Robbie Simpson.
However, Tewelde believes that with the help of the £5000 London Marathon training grant he received following last year’s race, he is in good shape to win a second British vest.
“It will be a tough race with lots of good athletes going for the two remaining places but I am confident I will one of the first two Britons at the London Marathon,” he said. “The grant I received from the London Marathon after last year’s race has made a big difference to me. It has helped me spend more time training and to pay for travel and equipment. It has definitely made it easier for me to prepare for my races.”