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Lemoncello impresses on marathon debut

25 April 2010

While there was disappointment for Britain's Mara Yamauchi, who finished 10th in the women's race, Andrew Lemoncello enjoyed a solid debut in the men's, finishing eighth in a high quality men's race, clocking 2:13:40.

The US-based Scot had been hoping for a mark closer to 2:10, but there he set a credible benchmark for future marathons.

"Yes, I'm now planning to do the European Championships marathon," he said soon after the race. "My plan had always been to race 10,000m at the Europeans, followed by an autumn marathon, but now I think, ‘Why not?'

"I've done a lot of training and I don't feel any different today than after a long Sunday run, so physically I have no problems at all. I also want to run in a race - in a pack - so yes, that's now my plan."

While his will be a welcome addition to the UK Athletics' (UKA) selectors' team sheet for Barcelona, there will be concerns over the fitness of the more experienced Dan Robinson who pulled out soon after passing the half way mark in 65:58 suffering from a calf injury.

Having clocked an impressive lifetime best of 2:12:14 in Amsterdam last year, Robinson set off at 2:10 pace with Lemoncello and fellow Brion Andi Jones. But the trio were faced a faltering pacemaker lost time on their target schedule at every split.

"I'm frustrated," said Lemoncello, who went through half way in 65:27. "I wasn't looking around at all because I had the numbers in my head. I knew what I wanted to run, but you trust the pacers, and to realise you're 10 seconds off the pace so early on is just so frustrating."

With Robinson out, Lemoncello and Jones, the top finishing Briton in 2009, were left to battle it out alone as the wind picked up.

"It wasn't so much difficult, but it was hard to focus," said Lemoncello. "Running on my own from 11 miles was just too much - it was basically a 15-mile tempo on my own in the wind."

This summer's marathon in Barcelona will incorporate the European Marathon Cup and UKA can select up to six men and women to run in each race where three will score as part of the team.

The first three eligible UK elite athletes in today's race - which also included the UK Championships, in addition to Commonwealth Games trials for Scotland, Wales and England - will be selected as long as they've achieved the qualification standard within the required period (1 January 2009 - 25 April 2010). With that in mind, Lemoncello and Jones have secured their team spots with sub-2:18:00 performances, with third placed Brit Ben Moreau, who clocked a new lifetime best of 2:16:46 - also guaranteed selection.

In addition to Yamauchi and Lemoncello, five other Britons achieved performances worthy of consideration for either the European Championships or Commonwealth Games (Scotland, England and Wales) selectors.

The pick of the bunch was Susan Partridge who was the second Briton in 2:35:57, a PB by almost two minutes.

"My main motivation was just to do myself justice," said Partridge who was ready to quit competitive racing following a disappointing performance in London two years ago. "I hadn't fully decided on targeting the Europeans or Commonwealths, but I've never done a European Championships before, other than the cross country, and it would be great to get that major championships experience under my belt.

"My main motivation was always to run as fast as I could. If it meant blowing up and missing the standard then so be it, but it worked. More than anything I'm just glad to be back where people are interested in me."

Behind Partridge, Helen Decker finished 17th in 2:36:56, while Rebecca Robinson (2:37:14), Jo Wilkinson (2:37:44) and Holly Rush (2:37:56) are also in contention with sub-2:38:00 performances, although they may have to settle for England selection and the Commonwealth Games rather than a GB vest this summer.