Two reigning World Para Athletics Marathon Cup winners will feature in the British team of five at the Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday 28 April 2019, which incorporates the marathon events for the World Para Athletics Championships.
With the world championships taking place in Dubai during November, the marathon medals will be up for grabs in the highly-competitive fields in the capital city.
David Weir (club: Weir Archer Academy; coach: Jenny Archer) won a record eighth London Marathon last year, and with a world medal also a possibility at the event, motivation will be high for the 2019 edition. With Boston winner Daniel Romanchuk (USA) and Paralympic champion Marcel Hug (SUI) both in the field, will it take another successful sprint in the final 400m for Weir to match last year’s feat and beat them again this year?
Weir announced last Autumn that he is targeting qualification for the T54 marathon at next year’s Tokyo Paralympic Games, and the London event will play a key part in those preparations.
So far this year, he’s already retained his Big Half title, clocking 51:12 in early March and expects another tough challenge on his 20th consecutive appearance on the streets of London.
He said: “I don’t remember [my first London Marathon] that well, but I do remember the first time I won it. In 20 years it’s got a lot better – the organisation, the professionalism, the athletes. It’s getting tougher every year [to win]. At times I haven’t put the effort in at training and I’ve under-estimated the other guys a bit, so I’ve had to dig deep recently and focus on a few things in training.
“Just being part of the Abbott World Marathon Majors Series has boosted the athletes’ appetite to do well in marathons. The London Marathon just seems to push the benchmark for coming up with new ideas. All we’ve asked for – for years – is inclusion and London Marathon seems to be doing the best they can to ensure we feel included.
“I’ll have a race plan for Sunday but if Dan [Romanchuk] goes off quickly we’ll have to go with him. It depends what happens on the day. The pack’s often there at the end in London. We’ll see.”
Joining Weir on the start list is Commonwealth silver medallist, Johnboy Smith (Weir Archer Academy; Archer). He took notable scalps at the Berlin marathon last Autumn – including Weir and Romanchuk – on his way to a third place finish and PB of 1:29:44.
Smith was 11th in Boston last week, following on from a third-place finish at the Big Half earlier this year. The Gravesend-based athlete’s best finish at the major marathon in London was 11th in 2018.
Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Simon Lawson (Carlisle Tri; Ian Thompson) will also contest the T54 marathon, following a 14th place finish over the 26.2-mile distance in Boston.
Another World Cup gold medallist from 2018 is Derek Rae (Fife; Ron Morrison) who competes in the T46 classification for athletes with an arm impairment. The Scottish athlete will be seeking another successful race around the streets of London, the location of his career best time of 2:33:24.
He goes into the race on the back of a 10-mile PB at the Tom Scott Memorial Round the Loch 10 at the end of March – recording a time of 51:52. He was also just ten seconds outside his half marathon PB on a windy day in the capital.
Rae is ranked fifth overall in the field on PBs alone, with Australian Michael Roeger the significant favourite following his world record in Melbourne last October. His time of 2:23:31 was over three minutes faster than anyone else in his classification last year.
Charlotte Ellis (New Marske) makes her debut for a British Athletics team in the visual impairment class. With a best of 3:25:55 to her name, which she set at the Manchester marathon last April, the New Marske athlete takes on the best in the world in the T12 class.
She goes into the race on the back of lifetime bests over 10 and 20 miles in the lead up, posting bests of 70:02 and 2:36.16 respectively.
Reigning champion Misato Michishita (JPN) leads the way in the classification; the 42-year-old holding a lifetime best of 2:56.14.
You can follow the World Para Athletics Championship races on BBC and the London Marathon website, while the British Athletics Twitter account will be providing updates throughout the races.
The British Athletics team for the World Para Athletics Marathon Championships at the London Marathon on Sunday 28 April 2019:
Charlotte Ellis [Guide Runner; Lucy Niemz] (New Marske)
Simon Lawson (Carlisle Tri, Ian Thompson)
Derek Rae (Fife, Ron Morrison)
Johnboy Smith (Weir Archer Academy, Jenny Archer)
David Weir (Weir Archer Academy, Jenny Archer)