This Friday (March 26) sees the British Olympic Marathon Trials held at Kew Gardens in Richmond, London. It is the first time in 40 years that the trials have been held as a standalone race. The last one being Milton Keynes back in 1980. Since then the London Marathon has acted as the Olympic qualifying race for all GB marathon hopefuls. However, obviously this year is a little different, and with the re-scheduled, re-jigged, and re-shaped London Marathon last October, as well as the Olympic games in Tokyo themselves being delayed an entire year, British Athletics had to re-think the qualifying situation.
Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
Both Men and Women’s fields of elite GB athletes will toe the start line before setting off at 08:00 on Friday morning in the picturesque surroundings of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. The Marathon will start at Kew Palace; take in 12 laps and 1 smaller lap of the gardens, before finishing at Palm House. The full course is detailed below.
In order to secure a spot in the GB Marathon team at the Tokyo Olympics later in the summer, runners will need to have the qualifying time from the 1st January 2019 (2:11:30 for Men and 2:29:30 for Women) AND place in the top 2 in the Trials. Therefore, it really is something of a shoot-out for those top spots among the competitors.
Callum Hawkins is pre-selected
Selection though is not quite as straightforward as it seems – Callum Hawkins is pre-selected already in the men’s team and therefore not running. In addition, there are other athletes, including British No.1 in 2020 Jonny Mellor, with qualifying standard times that are not racing the trials. It means Mellor, or others, could still be picked for Tokyo if only one – or none – of the athletes at the trials achieve the required time. In a similar twist in the women’s race, Charlie Purdue and Jess Piasecki are missing the trials but both are comfortably inside the required standard.
Ben Connor is the fastest in the men’s marathon field having gone inside the Olympic qualifying standard with a time of 2:11.20 at the Virgin Money London Marathon last October. Dewi Griffiths will be among those who will also be chasing the qualifying standard at the event having posted a 2019 best of 2:11.46 but an astounding 2:09:49 marathon PB. Christopher Thompson will be another strong contestant after his fantastic Half Marathon performance at The Vitality Big Half last year where he placed 2nd behind Kenenisa Bekele in a time of 1:01:07.
Lily Partridge will have the Olympics in her sights
In the women’s contest, there are a number of athletes in with making a chance to punch their ticket to the Olympics. Stephanie Davies, who ran 2:27.40 in Valencia, is one of four British women who currently hold the standard. Lily Partridge will have the Olympics in her sights with a personal best of 2:29:24. Another huge addition to this Women’s field is Scottish runner Sarah Inglis whose recent personal best of 2:29:41 is only 11 seconds outside the Olympic Standard, she ran this in December 2020!
There will be no spectators at the event unfortunately due to ongoing covid restrictions however, you can still enjoy what is set up to be an intriguing running spectacle, thanks to the race being streamed Live on BBC iPlayer and on britishathletics.org.uk on Friday morning. So tune in!
Below are the full lists of fields along with their Marathon PB times to date: