Seaward and Graham lead local contigent in London
24 April 2017
Kevin Seaward (Coach: Andrew Hobdell) and Laura Graham (Coach: Ryan Maxwell) led the way as thousands of local runners joined the 40,000 strong field at the Virgin Money London Marathon. Wheelchair athletes Jack Agnew and Andrew Greer also impressed with wins in the associated London Mini-Marathon races.
Cardiff based Kevin Seaward (St Malachy’s AC) and Kilkeel’s Laura Graham (Mourne Runners) both looked set for personal bests for much of the race but were forced to settle for 2:17:08 and 2:42:38 respectively.
Despite clocking excellent finish times for the classic 26.2 mile distance, particularly in warm conditions, both will be disappointed, given their ambitions. Kevin explained (on social media) that cramp forced him to slow the pace late on, posting, “gave it a bit of a go today, inexplicable quad cramps from 20 put end to a good race. That's marathon running!”. The Olympian’s finishing time saw him finish agonisingly close to Athletics Ireland’s IAAF World Championships standard of 2:17:00 and Athletics NI’s Commonwealth Games standard of 2:16:30.
National Half Marathon and Marathon Champion Laura made the brave decision to line up in the elite ladies field and did not look out of place as she ran down five time Olympian Jo Pavey before the European gold medallist decided to drop out. Laura held what would have been personal best place until the final 7k, before crossing the famous Mall finish line just over forty seconds outside her best.
After the race, Laura told Athletics NI, “I really felt it in the final stages, I just lost the mental focus that was there throughout the race. I’m disappointed that I didn’t better my personal best but on a more positive note, this weekend has been an excellent experience and one that will help me going forward.”
Northern Ireland’s Stephen Scullion (Aldershot, Farnham & District AC) made a welcome return to competition, and like Kevin Seaward, narrowly missed the Athletics Ireland’s World Championship standard when finishing in a new personal best of 2:17:59.
Kenyan athlete Daniel Wanjiru won the race in 2:05:48, while pre-race favourite Mary Keitany (Kenya) led the ladies home in 2:17:01.
Northern Ireland was also well represented in the London Mini-Marathon, races that cover the final 3 miles of the marathon route. Torque RC wheelchair athletes Jack Agnew and Andrew Greer, both coached by Heather Ardis, excelled with wins in their respective Under 17 and Under 15 races; this completes a hat-trick of wins for Jack at the event.