London Marathon 2021 – The British Preview

Here’s our British preview of the 2021 London Marathon.

London acts as an qualifier for the 2022 World Championship Marathon in Eugene. With potential Commonwealth and European spots also to fight for, the race amongst the Brits looks as good as ever.

For our full previews for the race as a whole see here for men, and here for women.

London Marathon – British Women Preview

The British women in the elite race are as follows:

AthletePersonal Best
Charlotte Purdue2.25.38 (London, 2019)
Natasha Cockram2.30.03 (Kew, 2020)
Rose Harvey2.30.58 (Wrexham, 2021)
Naomi Mitchell2.33.23 (London, 2020)
Becky Briggs2.38.58 (Kew, 2021)
Samantha Harrison2.51.33 (Manchester, 2017)

Purdue seeks redemption

Charlotte Purdue’s omission from the Olympic marathon team was well publicised and clearly still rankles to some degree. On the question of potentially qualifying for the World Championship Marathon in Eugene, Purdue said the below:

“I can’t say there won’t be selection issues because you never know what they’ll do.”

Charlotte Purdue on potential World Championship qualification

As tongue-in-cheek as the comment may have been meant, Purdue knows that a strong run should earn her place. The Nic Bideau coached athlete has stated she is going for Mara Yamauchi’s 2.23.12 best, a time which would elevate her from fourth to second on the British all-time list. With a recent third place finish at the Great North Run (68:49) and a win at the Big Half (69:51), both difficult courses, the thirty-year-old looks in impressive shape.

Those chasing the World Champs standard

Natasha Cockram enters London as the defending champion as far as British runners go. Her 2.33.19 in difficult conditions was enough to hold off the challenge of Naomi Mitchell. Cockram will be aiming to lower her 2.30.03 Welsh record, achieved in finishing second at the Marathon trials in June.

She will also have a very big eye on the World Championship standard of 2.29.30, a standard she may well find herself capable. Cockram enters the race off the back of a ninth place finish at the Great North Run (72.59) and says this is the first time she has entered a marathon injury free.

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In perhaps better form is Rose Harvey. The Clapham Chasers athlete has exploded onto the scene thanks to a fourth place finish in the Cheshire Elite marathon. Her 2.30.58 was almost a twenty-five minute pb. Coached by Phil Kissi (also coach of Steph Davis), more recently Harvey came third in the Antrim Coast Half in a big personal best of 70:28. She has realistic hopes of a sub 2.29.30 clocking.

No stranger to massive breakthroughs herself, Samantha Harrison broke 70 minutes for the half earlier this year (69:48) and was second at the recent Big Half (70:39). Harrison’s only previous marathon was the Manchester Marathon in 2019 where she ran 2.51.45. It is a time she will look to obliterate on Sunday, despite being coy on what pace group she will target.

The outside shots.

It is perhaps harsh to call Naomi Mitchell an outside shot, her second (British) place in London last year was hot on the heels of Natasha Cockram, and at one point she looked like she may well beat her. The Reading AC athlete was seventh at this years Olympic trials in 2.37.50 and raced most recently at the Big Half where she ran 74.23 for fifth. Mitchell will also be aiming to run the 2.34 England Commonwealth Games standard.

Becky Briggs made her marathon debut in Kew, finishing eighth in 2.38.58. Briggs was seventh in Antrim (73:30) and will hope to improve on her best from March.

London Marathon 2021 – British Men Preview

The elite men in the British race are as follows:

Athlete Personal Best
Jonny Mellor2.10.03 (Seville, 2020)
Mohamud Aadan2.12.20 (Kew, 2021)
Joshua Griffiths2.13.11 (London, 2020)
Charlie Hulson2.13.34 (London, 2020)
Andrew Davies2.14.36 (Valencia, 2019) V40 British Record
Nick Torry2.15.05 (Frankfurt, 2013)
Weynay Ghebresilasie2.17.21 (London, 2019)
Matt Leach2.17.38 (Marathon Project, 2020)
Josh Lunn2.17.59 (London, 2020)
Dan Nash2.18.51 (Brighton, 2019)
Ross Skelton2.19.21 (Amsterdam, 2019)
Doug MussonDebut (64:36 Half Best)
Jamie CroweDebut (64:19 Half Best)
Phil SesemannDebut (62:47 Half Best)

Another redemption attempt

Jonny Mellor returns to London hoping to be the first Brit for the second time in a row. The Liverpool Harrier ran 2.10 twice in 2020 but suffered a freak gout injury before the Olympic trials. Mellor was subsequently not selected for Tokyo but made his return at the Big Half. His 64:44 shows some room for improvement but Mellor has experience of rising to the occasion (He ran 64.46 three weeks before 2.12 in Berlin in 2019). He will hope to break 2.10 for the first time and will keep an eye on the 2.11.30 World Championship qualifying time.

“I’m a highly motivated runner but it’s definitely a bit more fuel to the fire”

Jonny Mellor on not being selected for Tokyo

The chasing pack

Mohamud Aadan will tow the line for his second marathon, having debuted in Kew in March (2.12.20 for third). The Thames Valley Harrier comes into London high on confidence after a third place finish in the Big Half (62:28) and will have realistic aspirations of chasing the 2.11.30 standard. Aadan was sixth Brit at the 10,000m Olympic Trials.

Josh Griffiths already has the Welsh Commonwealth Games standard so may decide to go for broke and chase the World standard instead. The Swansea athlete also will be targeting the father/son world record currently held by Tommy and Eoin Hughes (4.59.22), a side goal Griffiths feels confident of achieving.

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Commonwealth standard pushes

Charlie Hulson has run below the Commonwealth standard but not within the qualifying period and will aim to repeat the feat after a difficult 2021 with injuries. The New Balance Manchester athlete, coached by Steve Vernon, has a 64:28 half marathon best from 2019. His only outing this year was a second place finish in the Chester Half (67:02), a measured run two weeks out from London.

Andrew Davies, another Steve Vernon athlete, will also be targeting the Commonwealth standard. The Welsh standard is 2.15.30, a time Davies was within 20 second off at Kew. Davies has raced two Commonwealth Games so far (17th in 2014, 11th in 2018) and has also represented GB at the 2017 World Champs. Running the standard would cap a truly remarkable career for the former semi-pro footballer who took up running seriously well past his 32nd birthday. Davies ran 67:42 at the Chester Half behind Hulson.

Phil Sesemann makes his debut after a very solid 2021 where he competed at the Euro Indoors over 3000m. The Leeds City AC athlete will feel capable of running the 2.14 English Commonwealth standard.

The outside shots

Matt Leach is better than his 2.17.38 suggests. The Bedford & County runner has a 62:57 half marathon best from the Houston Half and may target the English Commonwealth standard.

Others chasing a potential commonwealth standard will be:

England (2.14.00): Doug Musson, Ross Skelton, Nick Torry (13th in Glasgow 2014)

Scotland (2.15.12): Jamie Crowe, Weynay Ghebresilasie

Wales (2.15.30): Josh Lunn, Dan Nash

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Featured image Eddie Keogh for Virgin Money London Marathon

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