The British hopefuls in Sunday’s elite men’s race took part in a socially distanced press conference at the athlete hotel today (Friday 2 October), where they shared their thoughts on a turbulent and testing year of training, the new course, life in the biosecure bubble, and how they’re looking forward to flying the flag in London again this year.

Jonny Mellor

On how it feels to be racing again after running an Olympic qualifying time in Seville in February:

“When I ran in Seville I never thought the next one would be in October. I’m so grateful to the London Marathon for putting this on. I’m delighted to be here and privileged to be on the Start Line. I’m really looking forward to it.”

On running without crowd support:

“It’s been a lonely time for a lot of people. Where we live in the Peak District, you are in the middle of nowhere much of the time, so it’s been strange for us all.”

On what life is like in the bubble:

“It’s quite relaxed and we feel very safe. The bump technology is quite entertaining.”

On how the looped course will change his approach to the race:

“It’s fewer laps than the 10K so it’s not that bad. It could be one of the fastest marathons we ever run. There’s no elevation, you’re nice and sheltered by the park, and you can see other people ahead of you in the race. So I’m looking at the positives.

“I think if you’re having a good day it could be really good; if you’re having a bad day it could be rough out there. At the end of the day it’s 26.2 miles.”

On the advantage of having already raced a marathon this year:

“It is a factor, but there are also very talented lads in the field. A lot are capable of running the time but it does give me confidence that I’ve got it in my back pocket and can run with less pressure.”

On whether he aims to break 2:10 on Sunday:

“I’ve always thought I was capable of running 2:0-something. If I can come away with another qualifying time, that’s goal number one. But if I can get under 2:10 then I’d be delighted.”

On how close he is to PB form:

“The way I’ve been feeling in training and at altitude is much the same. I’ve benefited this year from having a training partner in Ross Millington so that’s been a big help too.

“Obviously with the marathon you just don’t know sometimes, but I’m confident I’ve done everything I need to.”

On Sir Mo Farah pacing the British men:

“It’s an honour and quite unique to be able to line up alongside him. The longer he can go the better.”

On his message to the 45,000 virtual runners:

“Plan your route. Make sure you know where you’re going. Let people know. Get your friends to run different 5K sections with you, or cycle with drinks and gels. Go out and get it.”

Chris Thompson

On how he coped with the Covid-19 lockdown:

“I can’t remember the last time I’ve gone this long without racing. At first I really took a back seat and rested up, recharged the batteries. I didn’t do much at first, watched a lot of Netflix.

“Once things started to get going and the London Marathon came on the table I’ve been looking forward to this weekend. It’s not the most normal of build-ups but I’ve enjoyed it more than any. I am looking forward to this marathon more than any other because of everything that’s happened.

“The hardest thing was the uncertainty of the months ahead, not knowing when the next race was. There was an element of relief once we had a target to move towards. It’s amazing what those set dates can do to change your mind-set and drive you forwards.”

On running without crowd support:

“They will be there in spirit. I do feed off that kind of interaction normally, so it will be strange. But I will make the most of whoever’s there.”

On chasing the Olympic qualifying time on Sunday:

“I think everyone is chasing that time and this race has given us the opportunity. I feel like this is a free hit, an opportunity that two or three months ago didn’t exist. Let’s see what we can do.

“If I can be in Jonny’s shoes after the weekend I’ll be ecstatic. We want a handful of athletes with the time and then we have a shoot-out in a marathon next year. That would draw quite a bit of fun. Hopefully I can be in the mix.”

On how the looped course will change his approach to the race:

“My coach always says with a marathon you’re aiming to get bored before you get tired, so you’re trying to zone out from things.

“There will be a slightly different mentality to how you break down those laps. But once we get into the rhythm of it after four or five laps it will start becoming a ticking-off process.

“Every marathon you do is a unique experience and this is no different to that. It may be laps but ultimately you’re going into it with the same mentality you would any other race.”

On how close he is to PB form:

“After my first marathon I felt it was a good springboard but since then every marathon build-up has had something unique and I’ve come at it from a different angle. In 2016 I ran 2:15 off eight weeks training so still feel that was my best performance.

“This one is completely different again. I’ve not gone anywhere and not one session has been anything like what I’ve done before, so I’m an open book.

“But this is the one I’ve enjoyed training for the most. And I’m going into this feeling like it can be a springboard. I’m not putting barriers in the way of that.

“If I run quick, great. But the marathon is a cruel mistress. It can throw up anything. I’ve done what I can and we’ll see what happens. Roll the dice.”

On Sir Mo Farah pacing the British men:

“I hope he’s pacing to 25 miles! I’m sure it’s going to be interesting for him to run at our pace, but hopefully that will mean he can run to just short of the finish.”

On a message to the 45,000 virtual runners:

“Remind yourself that everyone is there in spirit and we are all rooting for each other. When things get hard that’s kind of why we do it, so you can have that happy feeling afterwards.

“When I ran my first marathon, the thing I underestimated was how proud I would be just to have run a marathon. People who are doing it for the first time are in for a great feeling when they’ve done it.

“This is why we do it, that Sunday evening feeling of patting yourself on the back thinking, ‘I did good today’.”