Purdue full of confidence for Sunday's selection showdown
Charlotte Purdue won’t be holding back when she runs in her second Virgin Money London Marathon this Sunday, 23 April.
The 25-year-old made her debut in the capital 12 months ago, clocking an impressive 2:32:48 for 16th place and third Briton.
She went on to run a 2:30:04 PB in Frankfurt in October and is exuding confidence ahead of Sunday’s selection race for this summer’s World Championships.
“I’m pretty confident ahead of Sunday – all my sessions have been faster than October,” she said. “I did one session of five by 5km that was two and a half minutes faster, but all my sessions have been about five minutes better than before London last year.”
While selection for the Rio Olympic Games wasn’t her primary focus last year, she was – if only for a short time – hugely disappointed to miss out on the Games.
“I knew going into the race what the (qualifying) standard was and what I needed to do,” she said. “I also knew that qualification for Rio would be a big ask. I’d never done a marathon before and I think I held back physically and mentally.
“I cried initially when I knew I hadn’t run the time – it was just so close – but by the time of the Games I was totally focused on training for Berlin. I enjoyed watching the Olympic race and I didn’t even think about where I’d have finished.”
Purdue started the year training at altitude in South Africa before travelling to Melbourne, Australia, in February to train under the guidance of her coach, Nic Bideau. She returned to the UK in March and won the Reading Half Marathon in 72:15.
“This time last year it was all new to me,” said Purdue, who has been running up to 130 miles per week in the build-up to the London Marathon. “Before then, my longest run had probably been around one hour forty-five, but this year running for two hours has been mentally easier and my body has responded much better.”
With the World Championship qualifying standard already under her belt, Purdue can focus solely on Sunday’s selection race when she will line up against her more experienced British rivals, including five-time Olympian Jo Pavey, Rio Olympian Alyson Dixon, and Scotland’s Susan Partridge who has run for Britain at World and European Championships in the past.
Pavey clocked 2:28:24 on her marathon debut in London six years ago and recorded another 2:28 in New York that autumn. The 43-year-old hasn’t run a marathon since, yet despite more than two decades of running for her country is as eager as ever to win a British vest.
“We’re all going to be going for it,” said Pavey of the women targeting World Championships selection, a group that also includes Tracy Barlow and Jenny Spink.
“For me, 2:28 is a possibility. My main aim is to qualify for the World Championships, but it’ll be a tough task. I’ve trained hard and consistently. I’ve put in the work, but I’ve had more illness than I’d have liked.
“I just love running, setting a goal and aiming for it. The marathon is very tough, but there’s still a possibility of me running a PB. I’ve still got a lot to learn and I love new challenges.”
Dixon, who was first Briton last year and represented Team GB in Rio, is also focused on qualifying for the Worlds.
“I’m still moving forward,” said the Sunderland Stroller. “The World Championships is my focus, but I’m also looking ahead to next year’s Commonwealth Games. I still have a few big aims.”
Partridge was sixth at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and has been training in Boulder, Colorado, alongside her coach, Steve Jones. She failed to finish last year, but that disappointment hasn’t dampened her motivation to run well this time around.
“I’ve trained pretty hard for this,” she said. “I’m not sure how many more marathons I have in me. Every time I think it might be my last and that helps me get the most out of my training.
“Sub-2:30 is still realistic for me, but it’s a big thing. I still train to the same level and I really want that elusive time.
“I don’t want to keep running marathons and running badly or dropping out, so I always ask, ‘Have I got another good one in me?’.
“Retirement is about finding the right time to bow out and that’s not for me right now, but if I could do the World Championships it might be a reason to step back.”