The Scottish marathon star will see off the UK’s best youngsters in London.
Callum Hawkins has been announced as the official starter of the Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon on Sunday (April 22).
The 25-year-old, who led the men’s marathon at the Commonwealth Games last Sunday for most of the race before collapsing just over a mile from the finish due to the hot conditions, will set more than 1,500 of the UK’s best 11 to 17-year-old runners on their way in this year’s event.
The Mini London Marathon is a series of 12 races over the last three miles of the London Marathon course involving the UK’s young runners, wheelchair racers and ambulant para-athletes.
Hawkins ran the event himself as a young athlete, finishing third for Scotland in the boys’ under-12 race in 2005 and second in 2007.
“It’s a real honour to be able to start the Mini London Marathon,” said Hawkins. “The London Marathon is an incredible event. The numbers of people running and the huge crowds create such an amazing atmosphere, which I was lucky enough to experience when I ran a couple of years ago.
“I remember competing in the Mini Marathon myself as a young athlete and it was a fantastic occasion. It will be great to see the next generation of runners taking on the Mini Marathon challenge and I look forward to greeting the medallists at the finish line.”
The fourth-placed world championships marathoner will start the events from Old Billingsgate from 08:40 before greeting the winners at the Finish Line in The Mall where he will present the winners with their medals and prizes.
Hawkins burst onto the British marathon scene in 2016 when he was eighth, and first Briton, at that year’s London Marathon and went on to place ninth at the Rio Olympic Games. He followed that up by setting a Scottish half marathon record of one hour in Japan last February before finishing fourth in the London 2017 World Championships marathon, matching the best-ever place by a British man at the worlds.
He joins a long roll-call of high-achieving British sports stars who have started the Mini Marathon in recent years, including Max Whitlock, Denise Lewis, Jonny Wilkinson, Sir Steve Redgrave, Ellie Simmonds and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The Mini London Marathon, which incorporates the official British Athletics Road Running Championships for young athletes, has long been a seedbed for future internationals, such as Hawkins. Mo Farah, David Weir and Hannah Cockroft all won Mini Marathon titles in their youth before becoming Olympic or Paralympic gold medallists.
The event has also been a breeding ground for talented runners who have gone on to succeed in other sports, such as triathlon’s double Olympic medal-winning Brownlee brothers, Jonathan and Alistair, and the 2013 women’s triathlon world champion, Non Stanford.
Britain’s future stars will represent nine English regions and three home country teams while young athletes from the capital will run for one of the 33 London boroughs.
The young runners taking part have all been selected from regional trials, held throughout the winter. Each team consists of 36 runners, six for each of the half dozen race categories, while there are also four races for the best young wheelchair athletes in the country and two for ambulant para-athletes.
In recent weeks Fast Running has published a series of articles from the London Mini Marathon showcasing the stories of those who have competed in the event before and where they are now. This includes Laura Weightman, Josh Griffiths, Jake Wightman and Chris O’Hare. You can all be found here.