British men making strides in endurance

Published 17th November 2020 by Mymo

Just like the exciting moves in female British endurance that are currently going on, men’s running is making waves. While racing in 2020 was sporadic due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the brief flashes of talent we saw in the events that went ahead should fill athletics fans with confidence for the postponed Olympic year ahead. 

So, who are the ones to watch, and which running shoe brands do they favour?

Running an incredible 60:31 in the World Championships Half Marathon in Poland in October 2020 put Jake Smith third in the British all-time list and at the forefront of athletics fans' minds. Coached by masters athlete and head of Team Thie James Thie, Jake Smith is just 22 years old but appears firmly grounded to remain in the sport for the long run. Smith is not currently sponsored, but favours the Nike Vaporfly Next% as his race shoe of choice.

Marc Scott (Nike) made probably the biggest blast on the road this year with a British 5K road record at the Podium 5K event (Barrowford, UK) in August. His outstanding run of 13:20 was just ahead of triathlete Alex Yee who also came under the previous record on the night. Marc splits his time between the US and UK, and is a former athlete to mymo coach Ken Harker. Notably, Scott has depth making him one to keep an eye on, running an incredible 60:39 at the Antrim Half Marathon in September, too.

The marathon men

It seems New Balance team coach Steve Vernon is doing something right with his Team NBMCR (Manchester) squad because they just seem to keep turning out and getting great results. While Ross Millington’s most outstanding results come in the 10,000 and Half Marathon, you don’t have to look further than Millington’s training partner Jonny Mellor for some marathon class. Having just sneaked an Olympic qualifying time in before lockdown (Seville, February 2020), Mellor proved he had Tokyo promise with a 2:10:03 finish. He went on to repeat this, coming in as first British man over the line in the Elite only Virgin Money London Marathon where he battled the challenging conditions to run another qualifying time of 2:10:38. 

Another New Balance athlete making waves in 2020 has been Derby runner Ben Connor, who was also until recently under Steve Vernon and training regularly with Jonny Mellor. Ben clocked an incredible 60:55 in the September Antrim Half Marathon for third place before going on to finish second Brit at the Virgin Money London Marathon Elite race in October. His time of 2:11:20 was not only in the OQ timeframe, but also Connor’s debut. You just had to see Connor’s reaction as he finished to see what this meant, and his passion for the sport makes him a favourite that is easily identifiable with fans.

Completing the New Balance marathon trio is perhaps Britain’s most exciting marathon prospect Callum Hawkins who has already secured selection for the Tokyo 2021 Olympic marathon, the only British man to have done so ahead of the trials. Hawkins has shown time and again his hard work and gutsy race ethic that have earned him second place in the Half Marathon all-time list, a 4th place finish in the 2019 World Championships marathon and an incredible marathon PB of 2:08:14. It will be interesting to see how Hawkins chooses to run as pacemaker in the December Elite only Valencia marathon where he may end up as pacing for his brother Derek Hawkins seeking OQ time (PB 2:12:49). Both athletes are coached by dad Robert Hawkins and are well used to training together, pacing and challenging each other.

A few wildcards to watch ahead of the trials are Dan Nash, the 2:18 marathoner also known for his outstanding 50K time of 2:49 (currently not sponsored) and Josh Lunn who ran an impressive debut in the Virgin Money London Elite only marathon of 2:17:59. Lunn is currently not sponsored but chooses to run faster workouts and races in New Balance. It’s worth keeping an eye out for 2:14 marathoner Charlie Hulson (New Balance), Peter Le Grice (none), Adam Hickey and Aaron Scott (both Hoka), Paul Martelletti (none) and Josh Griffiths (ASICS), who finished in 3rd placed Brit in London. 

We are yet to fully see the qualification window details for British athletes as this was only shared with some athletes, coaches and managers early this week (9.11.20), but it looks like the trial race event planned for March 26th, 2021 will definitely be one to watch.

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