Vindication for Charlotte Purdue as she achieves London Marathon personal best after Olympics snub
Charlotte Purdue said she felt "vindicated" after running a huge personal best at the London Marathon to become Britain's third-fastest woman of all time, just months after she was left out of the Olympic squad.
Purdue's 10th-place finish in a time of 2 hours 23 minutes 26 seconds was more than two minutes faster than her previous best set on the same course in 2019, and sent a clear message to TeamGB selectors who she called out earlier this week for her omission. She trailed Kenya's Joyciline Jepkosgei, who outshined reigning champion and world record holder Brigid Kosgei to take the title in 2:17:43.
Purdue, 30, was forced to put all her energy this season into the London Marathon after she missed out on becoming an Olympian, British selectors instead opting for a team that included Steph Twell, who posted a time one-minute slower than Purdue during the qualification period.
On Friday Purdue told Telegraph Sport she had had "minimal communication" with UK Athletics since her Olympic snub and subsequent failed appeal in March, but revealed on Sunday that she received a message of good luck and congratulations from the governing body both before and after her race.
When asked if she felt vindicated by her performance, she said "definitely", adding: "I did feel I deserved to be in Tokyo, obviously I wasn’t selected but I put all my emphasis on this race as soon as I wasn’t. If I didn’t it would have been way tougher for me because I need to have a focus for my training to execute 120 miles every week. This was my Olympics."
Purdue's efforts paid off. Running the final six miles of the marathon alone, she managed to push herself to the finish line and up to third fastest Briton of all time over the distance. She was just 14 seconds off Mara Yamauchi's second-best British time set in 2009.
© SHUTTERSTOCK Vindication for Charlotte Purdue as she achieves London Marathon personal best after Olympics snub - SHUTTERSTOCK
"In my head I thought, I'm going really fast but the last six miles I didn’t have a clue what time - I was just trying to go to the end," Purdue said post-race. "My coach was like, if you had known [about Yamauchi's time], could you have sped up, but no. I think running the last six [miles] alone was hard. If I had someone with me maybe I could have gone faster. It is annoying but I feel like I could still get it [in the future]."
Her finish time earned her qualification for next year's World Championships, but British team selectors may have somewhat of a headache on their hands, as she immediately threw doubt over whether she would compete at the Oregon event. It is one of three major races in 2022, including the European Championships and home Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
"I don’t know if I will go to Oregon," she said. "If I could maybe get a medal at the Europeans would that be better than top 10 in the worlds? I don’t know. I spoke to Mara a couple of weeks ago and I asked her opinion of what she would do, and she said if she had one regret in her career it was that when she was in medal shape she didn’t go to the champs where she could get a medal. So I don’t know what to do now."
Like Purdue, champion Jepkosgei was also in London to make a statement, after she missed out on securing a competitive spot on Kenya's Olympic marathon squad for Tokyo. The half marathon world record holder pulled away at the 35km mark, leaving the rest of the field in her wake, including compatriot Kosgei.
Kosgei won Olympic silver in brutal conditions at the Tokyo Games just 57 days ago, and defending her title in London proved a step too far as she finished down in fourth. It was a particularly fast field, the first time ever that five women have ran sub-2:19 in a marathon.
They went out ahead of more than 36,000 amateur participants who started the race, as the London Marathon returned to its usual course after last year's virtual alternative due to the pandemic.
Junior doc Philip Sesemann hails his dog after creditable seventh place finish
By Molly McElwee
Junior doctor Philip Sesemann made an impressive marathon debut in London as the first British man to cross the line in seventh - and credited his dog, Kipchoge, with getting him through training.
Sesemann put himself well and truly on British Athletics' radar on Sunday, by coming from relative obscurity to post a 2 hours 12 minutes and 58 second time, running under the European Championships and Commonwealth Games qualifying time.
It was quite a way to spend his 29th birthday, and just reward for putting in the miles during a period in which he has worked on the Covid frontline, in his role as a part-time junior doctor on an A&E ward at St James's Hospital and Leeds General Infirmary.
"It’s been difficult but I’ve always worked part-time and my colleagues have always been very supportive of combining the two as a career," Sesemann said of the last year. "I’ve had it easier than most of my colleagues. If anyone knows, A&E waiting times have gone up a lot recently - especially over the summer. That has been difficult for my colleagues. I have tried to support them as much as I can.
"There have been challenges, but more around Covid risk for myself, where I have done all this training and trying to avoid catching Covid beforehand. It wouldn't be worth it. I reduced my hours to negate that.”
He said his three-year-old spaniel Kipchoge, named after men's marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge, helped him get through particularly long training weeks.
“She’s great, she has Strava and she’s on 80-plus miles a week," Sessemann said of his pup. "She is a little bit mental. She will do 20-milers and stuff, she did seven-day rolling 103 miles the other week. Seems to love it – but doesn’t get a choice. She doesn’t pace me. She usually lags behind but is a stalwart on the Leeds training scene."
Sesemann was one of 12 Britons to finish in the top 20 of the men's elite race, putting himself in the best position to pull on a Great Britain vest at an outdoor major championships for the first time next year: "That would be great. I ran at the European Indoors over 3,000m this year. Hopefully it can go from the 3,000m to the marathon in a year. That would be nice. We will enjoy today and then think about what is next.”
As he guns for a spot at either the Europeans or Commonwealths in 2022, the London-born athlete will have another four-legged helper at his heels over the winter months. His new puppy, a German Shorthaired Pointer named Haile - in an ode to Ethiopian long-distance great Haile Gebrselassie - is getting prepped for a place as part of his training crew.
"She's still quite young but will be on the mile list quite soon," Sesemann said. "I did bring her along for a little warm-up the other day and Kipchoge wasn’t too pleased. Those names roll off the tongue a bit better – Kip and Haile.”
Elite races, as they happened
Runners streaming over the line at The Mall in the shadow of Buckingham Palace
The three hour finishers are coming through now. We're going to wrap up our coverage here shortly, but thanks for joining us today.
We've got more live blogs throughout the afternoon, including Premier League action from 2pm, and cycling action at Paris-Roubaix.
A lot of runners will be past the halfway point... now the hard work begins
Jonny Mellor was the quickest British man last year, here's what he said about getting through this part of the race:
Canary Wharf is a really tough section of the course with twists and turns. On a windy day you can gain shelter from the buildings, but don’t rely on your GPS data at this point as signals can be affected by the nearby buildings.
It’s not uncommon to go through bad patches in the marathon and if you do find yourself going through a tough patch, stay focused on the process, knowing you’ll come through the bad patch and start to feel good again.
Work with other runners around you and latch onto them during any tough spells you may experience.