After finishing eighth in today’s Virgin Money London Marathon, Lily Partridge has much bigger aims and says a new breed of British runners could push each other on to emulate the current American upswing in distance running.
As the top British woman in London, she clocked 2:29:24 to take 1:45 off her PB, but she is setting her sights on eventually running low-2:20s.
It’s a statement few British women have ever made with such confidence, but such is the height to which the international bar has now been raised, Partridge knows she can not be satisfied with sub-2:30.
“You’ve got to look at what the Americans are doing and it only takes one or two girls to do it, I think it’s a belief thing, it’s confidence to say if that’s what you want to achieve you’ve got to go for it,” said the Aldershot, Farnham & District runner.
United States has had two wins in World Marathon Majors events from Shalane Flanagan and Desi Linden in the past six months and two other women below 2:22 over a similar period.
Partridge added: “I’m not going to say I’m going to go out in my next marathon and do 2:22 – I’m not there yet – but we have to be
looking at those times, we can’t be looking at breaking 2:30 and running 2:28 because they don’t get you anything now.
“There’s a couple of young [British] girls coming up starting the marathon and I think we have the opportunity to do what the Americans are doing and it will take confidence for someone to do it.”
Paula Radcliffe and Mara Yamauchi are the only GB athletes to have dipped below 2:25, but the Alan Storey-coached athlete said: “I just think I need to keep doing what I’m doing, getting better, staying healthy, I think in the next couple of years I can run under 2:25.
“My training suggests that’s where I can go. Half the sport is staying healthy, getting that consistency, put a couple of years back to back without any major upset. You can start doing big things if you can link those things together.”
As well as looking into the future, Partridge reflected on a race from which she had hoped for a time of 2:28.
“I blew up a little bit the last three miles but I think that was just the nature of the day,” said the 27-year-old, who went through halfway in 1:14:03. “I think everybody slowed a little towards the end. I’m happy – job done, top 10 and qualification for Euros. I would have liked faster, I think it was worth a little bit faster but I think you can only do what you can do on the day.”
Despite suffering a bit in the last three miles Partridge’s run was a great display of even split running, holding a km pace of 3:29 to 3:33 for nearly the full 26.2 miles.
Regarding the conditions, she said: “I didn’t think, ‘wow, it’s really really hot’. The last three miles is really hard anyway in the marathon; the heat just adds to that, plus I was on my own with a pacemaker so you lose that competitive side a little bit that maybe would give you a little bit of something.”
Partridge, who was 15th in the European Cross in December and clocked 71:06 at the Big Half in London last month, added: “I haven’t had any injuries this build-up. Everything’s gone really smoothly, I’ve been finishing runs at five-and-a-half-minute miling but not feeling like I’m running five-and-a-half-minute miling.
“I’ve had that consistency. The cross country helped – I got fit without knowing I was getting that fit… I think both Charlotte and I could have run quicker at the Big Half but we were in marathon training and that’s difficult.”
She was not totally alone today, but again referred to the potential of pooling British talent for collective progression. She said: “There was a group of four or five of us, but that will only develop. When more and more of us can run 2:28, that becomes 2:27, 2:26 which becomes 2:25.”
Partridge has secured qualification for the European Championships marathon in August, but she will rest up and aim for a 10km road race at the of May before returning to 26-mile training.
The rising star of British marathoning spoke to Fast Running in-depth before the marathon and you can read the interview “Lily Partridge: conquering the marathon” here.
Pre-race favourite Kipchoge fought off a loaded men’s field as he stormed to his third London Marathon win in 2:04:17, while Mo Farah ran a superb race to finish third in new British record time of 2:06:21. You can read the men’s report here.
Vivian Cheruiyot was the surprise winner of the women’s crown, as Mary Keitany and Tirunesh Dibaba both faded in their attempts to break Paula Radcliffe’s record – a full report of the women’s race can be found here.