Graham in the Elite Line up for London Marathon
21 April 2017
Irish Marathon champion Laura Graham is included in the list of 32 Elite runners in this Sunday's Virgin London Marathon which once again contains the usual world class line up of top international athletes.
The 31-year-old Mourne Runners athlete has been included in this exclusive field on the strength of her winning time in the Dublin Marathon last October when she took 6 mins off her previous best time to set new figures of 2 hrs 41 mins 54 secs. At the weekend, Laura will be aiming to improve on this time by racing with the cream of African and British runners.
This will be a daunting task as this small group of elite competitors will be starting some 40 mins before the main field from where a staggering 36,000 are expected to finish later in the Mall. Laura will not therefore be able to rely on pacing from good male runners to help her towards a fast time.
She will in fact be among the slowest of this group which is led by twice previous winner Mary Keitany of Kenya who is the 2nd fastest ever runner behind Paula Radcliffe with a time of 2.18.37. There are no fewer than 8 of Laura's rivals with times under 2 hrs 22 mins. Mother of two Jo Pavey is the fastest of the British entries with a time of 2.28.24.
Graham will however be concentrating on her own race with major Championship qualification times at the back of her mind. The Irish standard for this summer's World Championships in London is 2 hrs 38mins while the Commonwealth Games guideline for Brisbane next year is currently a minute faster. Certainly, in her current form Mother of 4 Laura will be aiming for a time under 2 hrs 40 mins.
The former mountain runner recently stated that she will avoid last year's mistake of setting too fast a pace early on. If Graham’s judgement is accurate the flat course and good weather should certainly nudge her towards a new PB.
Commonwealth Games athlete Gladys Ganiel who has a sub 2 hrs 39 mins’ best time will also be racing. The North Belfast runner has not had the perfect build up because of a virus which is only now clearing.
The closing date for Irish marathon selection for the World Championships is next Monday. Holywood's Paul Pollock has already achieved the qualification mark with an Irish leading time of 2.15.30 from his marathon race in Japan back in February.