Home Forum General Stuff Main Forum The Decline in British Marathon Running

This topic contains 59 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  Uralcox 11 months ago.

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  • #138762 Reply


    Tim Hutchings responds to Fairbourn’s article about Manchester being the best Marathon for a British revival in Marathon running.

    See comments.


    #138804 Reply

    john bicourt

    shm85, I don’t think too many would agree about any “resurgence” in UK distance running over the last few years. Apart from Mo (a rather special case) who of those mentioned have even made a global team let alone made a final and exactly where are we across all the distance events men and women compared with previous decades?

    And the real question is, not about the “lack of talent” but the lack of any ability and effectiveness by that bunch in UKA led by a useless CEO, collectively paid £6million a year in nice fat salaries, plus, unheard of before, athlete funding to produce something.

    #138819 Reply
    Profile photo of Fairy Smoke
    Fairy Smoke

    main issue is that the number of serious distance runners now is about 1/3 of what it was c 25-35 years ago. all the other stuff is fairly marginal. Maybe a couple of 2.17 guys could become 2.14 guys if they sought out the wonderful advice of the expert Bicourt. I spent some time today at the Expo and although I spend many of my waking hours involved in long distance running I felt rather out of place. It’s not an environment that cares about performance as we know it.

    It’s fairly well documented that both Thompson and Overall are living hand to mouth. So we have to rely on a tiny talent pool who have the intelligence to become top endurance runners whilst also living at borderline poverty level until their mid thirties.

    Mo is an exceptional case. What do people think is the fastest ever marathon by a male not raised at altitude and not gaining any boost from PEDs?

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 11 months ago by Profile photo of Fairy Smoke Fairy Smoke.
    #138831 Reply

    john bicourt

    In answer to FS’s question above, I would guess it has to be Steve Jones? I was chatting with him yesterday at the “Athletes Reunited” get together in London. In talking about his 2.07.13 in Chicago he corrected me when I said that he’d gone through halfway in 62.40. In fact it was 61.40! No pacemakers, no carbo loading diet and he only drank water en route. He also said when I asked about the present state of British marathon performances that he thought the current and recent “crop” simply don’t race enough, and he’s probably right? Looking at the our All Time lists it is pretty clear, to those who would know, that most if not all were in fact prolific racers for their clubs, not only on the track at varying distances but also over cross country, road relays and road races up and down the country.

    #138833 Reply
    Profile photo of Trickstat

    He also said when I asked about the present state of British marathon performances that he thought the current and recent “crop” simply don’t race enough, and he’s probably right?


    This week’s AW features a top 20 merit ranking for British men for the 2013-4 cross-country season and a report and results from the National 12 stage. I’m not sure if any of that top 20 ran at the 12 stage.

    #138834 Reply
    Profile photo of piriepirie

    john .
    going back to our 60s/70s/80s racing was a priority simply because that is what athletes were trained to do, ” race ” nowadays it is about looking forward to holidays in the mountains.

    For all the chat about how much these holidays bring on the athletes it hasnt worked and this bunch over the last 15 years cannot hold a candle to the older style of trainer/racers.

    I do not see where money is going to make any difference either, it hasnt so far and has often been said the money wasnt there 30/40 years ago so that excuse falls flat.

    Is it because so many go to university where life isnt that tough where they can train with relative ease perform well, then they have to join the real world and cant hack it, where as most of our athletes didnt go to UNI but had real jobs and trained/ raced and dealt with it.

    #138843 Reply
    Profile photo of Fairy Smoke
    Fairy Smoke

    goater yamauchi radcliife nerurkar bleasdale buckner spedding Moorcroft rowell -might have been decent runners if they hadn’t been pampered in ivory towers

    #138844 Reply

    john bicourt

    pp. Plenty of our top runners, including me, from the 60’s 70′ and 80’s went to university. In my event alone, in the AA’s there were 3 with PhD’s, John Jackson, Gareth Bryne Jones and Tony Ashton and half of the rest had or were studying for degrees. Many, of our best marathon runners all had degrees,too, Dr. Ron Hill, Ian Thompson, Charlie Spedding, Hugh Jones, et al. And the same in the other distances. Don’t let anyone get the idea that our best previous distance runners were all wearing cloth caps and working in’t mill or down mine. And if they weren’t studying the rest had pretty responsible jobs.

    FF. I tend to agree. Those you name would probably have been much less successful had they been given the pampered life afforded to those today.

    As for the money issue: Paying for a bloated administration and (basically) ‘holiday’ trips abroad has proved mainly fruitless. Put even half of the £10million a year (salaries and support) wasted on a useless UKA into prize and performance bonuses across the board at U20’s and senior and the sport would flourish exponentially.

    #138850 Reply

    john bicourt

    Reasonable debut for Mo, given all the hype beforehand….. but Steve’s still the man.
    Pity about Thomo and Scott. Had expected better, although CT’s was a debut effort. (anyone know what other Brits have fast (sub 2.11) debuts?) Also disappointing our first woman only 2.35.

    Big Bren doesn’t seem to know why Mo is having a go at marathon and thinks he should stick with the track. I would have thought it fairly obvious. What more can he win at 5/10k? He’s proved to be the best in the world with his global gold medals so he’s got everything to lose. Also, he probably picked up in excess of $500.000 for this effort and clearly could run faster in future with similar or even better paydays.

    He may well defend his 10k title in Rio but I doubt he would go for the marathon in Rio for the same reason most of the top big city marathoners won’t go for it either. (or maybe that’s a good reason to do it and become a legend if he wins? Otherwise for him and the others it could be: 1) no money on offer. 2) Possibly would knock out their chance for a big payday in a city marathon, although they would have c3months to recover. Who knows?

    ps. It seems the only way a Brit can win London will be when the prize and appearance money is for Brits only!

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 11 months ago by  john bicourt.
    #138856 Reply

    slow dude

    I think he did well. He isn’t the fastest runner, he is the best racer. And having 3 pacemakers up front who don’t care about racing takes his advantage away.

    Have a look at Kiprotich, in a race where everyone runs for themselves he has twice shown the ‘fast guys’ how it is done. Would someone like Kipsang go out that hard in the Olympics making pace himself? If not it can be just like the 10,000. Mo sits in and out-sprints them.

    Great for Thompson to have run the qualifying standard. Not the time he hoped for but giving him an option for Glasgow. This makes him, Steve Way and John Gilbert from today, with Nick Torry and Dave Webb having faster times than the last two from Frankfurt. Thommo, Torry and Webb also having the European standard.

    #138857 Reply


    Ben Moreau and Andi Jones also have the qualifying time I believe

    #138858 Reply


    Thompson had a good debut…and looks strong enough to go well under 2:10…His training partner Overall once again fell over his own ego by going out way too fast for his fitness level…his original debut clearly flattered to deceive…nothing decent ever since….

    Really good run by Steve Way who has come at this via Ultra’s training and was a bit surprised by a 3 minute PB…

    In contrast Mo looked under-prepared with what seemed to be a lack of marathon specific training….he looked very uncomfortable from half way, bobbing style, leaning forward, high leg recovery and bouncy…Salazar has yet to get his marathon coaching delivering the goods…

    #138927 Reply

    john bicourt

    Kipsang’s running style looks the epitome of energy conservation. I wonder if any of UKA’s department of sport’s scientists could do an analysis of his compared with Mo’s?

    #138977 Reply
    Profile photo of chopkins

    My thoughts on the current UK marathon state regarding officials and selection

    #138978 Reply

    john bicourt

    I think most people would agree with you. I certainly do and it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest the way the “selectors” sometimes operate or rather fail to operate, as in your case.

    I seem to recall UK Sport/UKA (one and the same really!) at one time wanting to use the “he/she is too old for funding” on anyone over 25 until they realised they’d lose half their potential team!

    If you had been batting around for the last 10 years and had never gone faster than you have, then they may have some justification not to slect but as it stands you debut pretty well, prepared for London properly but had an unfortunate injury which clearly would be cleared well in time. You wouldn’t be taking anyone else’s place and very significantly you’re still young and can obviously improve.

    Hope it all works out for you. Your 10000 time suggests you can run close to or under 2.15.

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