Two of the British women hoping to build on Paula Radcliffe’s legacy of world-beating achievements at the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon, Steph Twell and Lily Partridge, took part in a socially distanced press conference at the athlete hotel today (Friday 2 October).

Steph Twell

On how happy she is to have a chance to race after such a long lockdown:

“It’s absolutely fantastic to be here today. It’s been a long drought. Having this race has certainly helped keep me motivated and allowed me to set some goals. It has been tough to have to go for such a long time without goals, so I’m delighted to have a chance to run.

“I’ve waited for this race since April. I was so disheartened when it had to be postponed, so there will be an element of relief that things are getting back to normal.

“I hope this race is a pivot point for lots of other races across Britain and beyond to hold events of this nature.

“I am going to enjoy it. To make sure I smile on the Start Line and hopefully have that smile with me on the Finish Line too.”

On whether the marathon is her perfect distance:

“I certainly feel there’s a lot of room to explore and to grow in this distance. This is only my third marathon but I’ve known from a young age that the marathon would be something I eventually turn to.

“I love long runs, I love the marathon as a community event, and I love the training, so all that has been a string to my bow. I’ve never been afraid of the hard work.

“But my 1,500m, 5K and 10K background can complement that when we’re racing. We are here at the British champs so I want to use my skills to really develop in the marathon as well.

“I am a fresh-faced marathon runner, so this is an opportunity for me to grow again. It’s my first female-only race and the British championships, which is really important to me, and the time will count too.”

On how lockdown has affected her build-up:

“My build-ups for marathons have not been traditional, they’ve been quite short because I’ve been coming off a 10K or 5K background. This was going to be more traditional and I got a lot of work in early in the year. I’ve maintained that through lockdown.

“But it has been hard with lack of access to physio and gyms and that has taught me a lot about how to manage my intensities correctly.”

On running such a unique marathon without fans:

“That extra support in the final miles always provides a little bit more encouragement. But equally with the camaraderie between the athletes here, with us all so grateful to be running, everyone will be enjoying the race on the day.

“There will be a lot of support from fans on TV too, so we will carry that spirit with us and will be making the most of it.”

On her focus for Sunday:

“I am here to race. I think that’s my main priority and I think with the feedback we get around the course anything can happen. I hear the course is fast so I don’t want to limit myself. There’s a great opportunity.

“This is part of building momentum for next year to make sure I am ready and fresh for a big Olympic year.”

On whether she has left track racing behind:

“No, I still think I can be competitive over shorter distances, but I believe at this point I need to develop my aerobic engine and that’s something the marathon can help with.

“I don’t know my full potential in this event so I don’t think this is the final roll of the dice or my signature marathon. That will come with even better preparation and more experience. I still have to put that package together so I can show a signature performance further down the line.

“My main aim for next year is to have the best impact for Britain at an Olympic Games and I don’t know if that is the 10K or the marathon yet. This is a chance to know what I can achieve.”

On the early (07:15) start time of the women’s race:

“Let’s just say I’m going to have to set more than one alarm. It’s going to be a very short night’s sleep. I expect we’ll be getting up about four o’clock in the morning and taking breakfast a little later.

“But the social distancing has been brilliant. We’ve been well equipped here and we’re looking out for each other because we don’t want to waste this opportunity.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to watch the other races afterwards and witness history, and then use that as inspiration for my future marathon career.”

On what life is like in the bubble:

“I think everyone is pretty relaxed because we know the protocols and it’s been really well managed. But sitting at breakfast feels like you’re back at school because the tables are all socially distanced.

“The bump technology is new too and a bit odd. But it is a great opportunity and has to be the way forward for races.”

On her message to the 45,000 virtual runners:

“Even when going thorough a tough patch, remember someone else somewhere is going through the same experience.

“We’ve all been though a lot this year, so coming through the marathon is a beautiful symbolic version of doing something for you and making something positive out of the whole situation.”

Lily Partridge

On how training has been affected by lockdown:

“We’ve planned it as much as anyone can plan anything in 2020. Normally I train in the south of Spain, so it’s been different training in the UK.”

On chasing the Olympic qualifying time on Sunday:

“I have full focus on the Olympic standard. That’s the goal for the weekend, to make sure I come out ready for next year with what I need for the Olympics.

“I need to focus on qualifying, whether that be from a top-10 finish or getting inside the 2:29:30. My run in 2018 got me both of those so a repeat would be great.”

On running such a unique marathon without fans:

“The fans are typically what make the London Marathon so they will be missed. But hopefully we can put on a good event and everyone can tune in with the virtual marathon as well. But they are such a key part of the event.”

On running on a looped course:

“I love a lap, I love a loop. So I will use those laps to mentally break the race down. That hasn’t changed anything in how I’ve prepared. I am looking forward to it.”

On life in the bubble:

“It is strange, but that just sums up 2020. Everything is a bit odd. The protocols are brilliant, they’re clear and everyone is respectful of what needs to happen. I feel safe.”

On her partner Ben Connor’s marathon debut in the men’s elite race on Sunday:

“I think he’s looking forward to it. But he was whinging after a couple of long runs that his legs were tired, so I took the Mickey out of him for a while. We’ve decided that whoever runs worst has to drive home after the race.

“But to be able to do marathon training with someone else has been brilliant, especially this year when it’s been crucial to have that support.”

On her message to the 45,000 virtual runners:

“It’s just about being grateful that we’re able to run, knowing that your body is healthy enough to run 26 miles. Try to enjoy it. I’ll be thinking of you when it gets hard.”