Mo Farah is among the runners preparing for the Virgin Money London Marathon this weekend.
The 35-year-old, who has been preparing at a training camp in Ethiopia, is targeting the British record over the 26.2 mile race. Currently held by Steve Jones, the record of 2:07:13 was set in 1985.
“I have learned a lot since I made my marathon debut in London in 2014,” Mo said. “I understand the marathon more, so I will go after the British record and see what I’m capable of. My aim on Sunday is to respect the other guys and get on with the race.”
The multiple Olympic and world track champion will be looking to repeat the success of his glittering track career as he races on the streets of him hometown this weekend – but he’s realistic about his chances.
Four years ago, he set an English record of 2:08:21 but that only makes him the 13th fastest in Sunday’s field. The line-up contains eight athletes who have finished the course in under 2:06, including the second and third fastest men in history – Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele and Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge.
But Mo admitted that he was welcoming the competition. “It’s a great feeling not being the favourite,” he said. “There isn’t much pressure on me.”
The elite runners make up only a small section of those who will take on the challenge on Sunday, though. And many amateur runners and charity fundraisers will join them on the course across London.
There are also a number of runners who, like Mo, are hoping to break records on Sunday. This includes Barnaby who will attempt to run the fastest marathon dressed as an insect while raising money for Refugees at Home; Michelle who wants to break the record for the fastest marathon on stilts while raising money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association; and Victoria who will raise funds for WaterAid running her first marathon, while dressed as the poop emoji, in hopes of breaking the record to become the fastest female to complete a marathon dressed as an emoji.
However, the weather is expected to be hot and Professor Sharma, medical director of the London Marathon, has released the following advice:
1. Adapt your goal according to the conditions. In the conditions forecast for Sunday, you should slow your planned pace. If you were planning to run in fancy dress, please think carefully whether that is still appropriate in the conditions.
2. Listen to your body. If you feel thirsty, drink water. If you feel overly tired, slow down. If you feel unwell in any way, visit one of the 39 first aid stations on the course. Check out the locations of the first aid stations by downloading the Virgin Money London Marathon App.
3. Wear the appropriate clothing. This should ideally be lightweight moisture management clothing designed for use in warmer conditions (but remember that new clothing can chafe if it hasn’t been worn and washed).
4. Drink according to your thirst. There is water or sports drink available every mile from Mile 3 to Mile 25 on the course. Be careful not to overdrink – drinking too much water can be dangerous and lead to hyponatremia (water intoxication) – read more here.
5. Take one bottle only at each water station. Please do not take more than one water bottle or compostable cup at any water station. There is plenty of water for everyone if you only take one.
6. Drink, Douse, Drain, Drop. When you take water, Drink if you feel thirsty. Douse your head and the back of your neck with the remaining water. If you don’t need all the water, check if your fellow runners would like it to douse themselves. Drain your bottle by squeezing out any unused water. Drop the bottle carefully on the ground for our recycling teams to collect.
7. Use the showers. There are six shower stations on the course which are based at Miles 9, 13, 17, 20, 22 and 23 – remember to run through these if you need to cool down. Remember that as your running clothing becomes wetter, you may experience chafing. Consider taping sensitive areas such as nipples and using petroleum jelly to help prevent chafing.
8. Wear sunscreen. You may be out in the sun for several hours so remember to apply a good quality sunscreen to all exposed areas before you leave home.