Natasha Cockram storms to a maiden British Title in London
The 40th edition of the Virgin Money London Marathon took place on Sunday morning in a unique format, taking in 19.7 laps of of a Covid-19 secure course at St James’ Park.
Poor weather conditions dampened down any chance of fast times on the flat looping circuit in Central London but were unable to stop Cockram from overcoming all the British competition.
A group of the top British athletes passed the half-way point in under 2:30 pace with Welsh hopeful Natasha clocking 1:14.33, in-line for 2:29.05. This meant that until the last third of the race, the MMRT athlete was on for an Olympic qualifying time set at 2:29.30 and a serious attack at her own course record of 2:30.50.
In the later stages it was clear that neither would be possible but as she passed the long-time leading Brit, Naomi Mitchell, it looked likely that a first British Title was on the cards.
Cockram stopped the clock in 2:33.19 to claim a maiden title and prove her place as the top British marathoner on the day. This was particularly impressive as a mysterious ankle injury had affected her preparations for the marathon showpiece.
When asked about taking the British title, Cockram said (via Virgin Money London Marathon);
'It was just incredible to get the win today, I was disppointed that i didn't get the Olympic standard but conditions were tough out there so I'm really happy with that'. This time last week I couldn't even run so just to make it to the start line was a surreal experience'.
'When Naomi passed me I thought that was it, she was gone because I just couldn't stick with her, I didn't have anything left in me but I didn't give up. I kept focusing on her and just kept chasing her down'.
Jenny Nesbitt was another Welsh Athlete in action, doing a fantastic pacemaking job for the top British Athletes.
Conditions improved slightly by the time that the men’s race started at 10:15. Welsh hopes here sat with Liverpool Harrier Charlie Hulson, 2017 British Champion Josh Griffiths and Cardiff AC’s Dan Nash.
Hulson was the fastest of the Welsh Athletes on paper having run just one second faster than Griffiths but it was Griffiths however that finished as the first of the trio as the third British man in a new P.B. of 2:13.11. This moved the Swansea Harrier to sixth on the Welsh all-time list behind Steve Jones, Dewi Griffiths, Steve Brace, Dennis Fowels and Tony Simmons.
'I'm happy to come away with third in the British Championships and a P.B. of 2:13.11'.
'Conditions were tough which made fast times more difficult but I focused on my own race and worked my way through the field in the second half' said Griffiths.
Hulson also revised his P.B. with a new mark of 2:13.34, not quite what the North Whalian had been targeting with his sights set on 2:12 or under but enough to move him to ninth fastest ever Welshman ahead of Commonwealth Games fourth placer Dale Rixon.
Unfortunately Nash had to withdraw at around the 20 mile mark due to a hip problem that was in his own words 'aggrevated by an over-ambitious start'.
Pics by Bob Martin / Jed Leicester / Virgin Money London Marathon