I am Australian but London is my home and has been for the past ten years. I love it here and was so thrilled when London won the Olympics for 2012. I was living in Sydney in 2000 so have first-hand experience on how great it is to be in an Olympic City in the lead up and during the Olympics. I’m now in a position where I know more about the British Olympic team than I do about the Australian on,e simply because of the huge amount of media exposure. Although from next Friday, you will find me decked out in green and gold chanting ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie’ at every opportunity…
National loyalties aside there are some athletes in the Olympics who really capture the hearts of the public. For me, one of those athletes is Paula Radcliffe. I participated in a Nike 10km run with her in Hyde Park in 2006 and remember being so excited that I was going to ‘race’ Paula Radcliffe. I had managed to wriggle my way towards the front and set off at a blistering pace to avoid being mown down by the thousands of people behind me and to keep Paula in sight. I knew I had a small window to enjoy being in the front rows and could keep up what was a sprint pace for me for 200m.
Doing that gave me a new found respect for how fast marathon runners push their bodies to go, often increasing the pace for the 2nd half of the race to finish with a ‘negative split’. The thing I found particularly incredible about this race was that we were running really, really fast to keep up and this was Paula taking it easy and just chatting and enjoying herself. After all, she was six months pregnant at the time!
The women’s marathon on Sunday 5th August and men’s on 12th August start on The Mall at 11am and will make their way from The Mall, along the Embankment, then loop through the City of London and back along Embankment to The Mall. The course has been designed to take in as many fabulous London landmarks as possible. The great thing about an event that covers 26.1 miles is that there are lots of places to catch the action. Outside of the ticketed areas on The Mall, the rest of the course is free to spectators.
Some quick marathon facts:
What’s the distance of a marathon? 26 miles and 385 yards or 42.195 km’s
Why the odd distance? The original distance of 26 miles was extended for the London games in 1908 to enable members of the Royal Family to watch the start of the race from the East Terrace at Windsor Castle and the end of it from the Royal Box in the Olympic stadium at White City. The extra 385 yards came about as a partial lap of the stadium was required to bring the runners around to the front of the royal box to finish. The distance was officially adopted by the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) in 1921 as the international standard.
Who’s on the British team? Paula Radcliffe, Mara Yamauchi, Claire Hallissey, Scott Overall, David Webb, Lee Merrien
What’s the existing World (WR) and Olympic (OR) records?
WR: Women 2:15:25 Paula Radcliffe, 13 April 2003, London Marathon
OR: Women 2:23:14, Naoko Takahashi, 24 September 2000, Sydney Olympic Games
WR: Men 2:03:38 Patrick Makau, 25 September 2011, Berlin Marathon
OR: Men 2:06:32 Samuel Wanjiru, 24 August 2008, Beijing Olympic Games
Is it a record breaking course? A test was completed on the course in May 2011 with 39 elite athletes who reported back that a world record was unlikely due to the windy layout and the later start time (11am) of the race.
How do we know the course is accurate? The official measurement of the course took place at 2 a.m. on 13 June 2012. It was carried out by David Katz, a member of the IAAF Technical Committee, using a bike fitted with a Jones Counter.
Really? American Fred Lorz’s had his victory overturned in the 1904 St Louis games when he was busted for getting a lift for most of the way and only running the final four miles.
Ethiopia’s Abebe Biikila won the 1960 Rome marathon barefoot because he couldn’t find a pair of shoes comfortable enough to run in.
Enjoy the games!