Local line-up for London

Snaefell fell race on Saturday

Snaefell fell race on Saturday

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About one in a thousand of the 37,000 runners who set off from three starting positions around Blackheath in the 35th Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday morning will be Manx or Isle of Man resident.

By three miles the courses merge and the first Manx runners, although slower than in previous years, will finish on the Mall within three hours.

Steve Kelly was the first Manx runner to finish the 1981 event in 2hr 27min 24sec and every one of the 1,000 or more who have followed have been slower! Dave Cowell’s Manx record of 2:23.34 has lasted since the 1974 Commonwealth Games in New Zealand. Keith Gerrard’s debut of 2:26.27 in Rotterdam 12 days ago is next best.

Last year’s fastest in London, Adam Russell, has emigrated to Australia and Ed Gumbley, fastest in 2013, to Hong Kong. Former Isle of Man Sportswoman of the year, Jess Draskau-Petersson, who used her dual nationality to represent Denmark in the 2012 Olympics, was the fastest in Olympic year and she now resides in the USA!

Of this year’s runners, Paul Curphey is the fastest but his 20-year best of 2:37.51 will not be threatened on his 22nd consecutive appearance.

Tim Knott was hoping to improve on his 2:43.42 until injury and a cold wrecked his chances. He will start slowly but will he catch Nigel Armstrong who has a best of 2:44.32 from 2006 but is well short of the form that took him to victory in the 2013 Isle of Man Mountain Ultra.

It’s asking a lot of Peel’s Helen Taylor to be the first female finisher only six days after a personal best of 3:23.53 in Boston on Sunday but she could be, although probably not close to Paula Radcliffe whose marathon swansong will boost the crowd.

One of the aims of the London Marathon was to improve the standard of British marathon running. Within three years 220 British runners had run under 2hr 25min.

Standards have plummeted since with only around 10 per cent at that level. But with an elite field containing most of the world’s best runners, spaces allocated to all British clubs - many gaining their places through an online ballot and the majority of spaces sold to charities who expect their runners to raise up to £2,000 for their cause - the range of ability makes the London Marathon arguably the greatest in the world.

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