Olympic qualification is the main objective for Steph Twell and Lily Partridge in the London Marathon, but just being able to race again is a bonus for the British runners.
When asked what her targets were ahead of Sunday’s race, Twell simply replied “I’m here to race.”
With a personal best of two hours, 26 minutes and 40 seconds from last year, the 31-year-old is one of a handful of British female athletes to have gone inside the Olympic qualifying standard of 2:29:30.
She will be looking to strengthen her hand further in the capital. However, with the 10,000 metres on the track in Tokyo also still an option, Twell is keen to find out if the marathon is her ideal distance.
“I hear the course is fast so I don’t want to limit myself. There is a great opportunity,” said the British 10,000m champion at the marathon press conference.
“I’ve waited for this race since April. I was so disheartened when it had to be postponed. I was ready to go. I’ve invested a lot in this year.
“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.
“But my 1,500m, 5k and 10k background can complement that when we’re racing. We are here at the British championships 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.”
This year’s race is restricted to elite athletes, with the usual 45,000 runners unable to take part due to the coronavirus pandemic, and will be run behind closed doors rather than along the traditional street route.
Partridge’s best time of 2:29:24 is just inside the Olympic qualifying standard and she is also looking to lay down a marker and put herself firmly in line for a Tokyo spot.
On chasing the Olympic qualifying time on Sunday the 2018 British marathon champion said: “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.”
With partner Ben Connor making his debut in the men’s race, there is an added incentive for Partridge to run well.
She joked: “Whoever runs worst has to drive home! To be able to do marathon training with somebody, to have that tiredness and someone there who understands, is brilliant. Especially during this particular year and this particular build-up, it’s been quite crucial to have that support. When one of us has been struggling a little bit we’ve been able to pick the other one up.”