The British Virgin Money London Marathon athletes

A year after Mo Farah finished 8th in the 2014 Virgin Money London Marathon, we met up with the best of British from this year’s lineup: Scott Overall, Sonia Samuels and Emma Stepto.

When asked how training was going, Sonia, whose best marathon time was 2:30 in Berlin, told the room how she feels good about her Virgin Money London Marathon build up after spending four weeks training in Kenya. She has been running an average of 110 miles a week, while Scott tells us his average is between 120 and 130 miles per week, every week.

Sonia has had two bites of the athletics cherry in her life, winning the national junior cross country championships as a girl before becoming a teacher. Eventually her husband suggested she take up running full time, and now she is running for Great Britain in World Championships.

Emma’s athletics story, too, is an unusual one, as she only started running at age 35. Despite loving hockey, athletics and swimming at school, it wasn’t until Emma started going to the gym in her 30s that she realised how much she enjoyed running. Spurred on, Emma participated in a Race for Life event.. And won! Emma tells us;

I asked myself, if I can do that, what else can I do? I started getting competitive with myself and wanted to see how far I could push myself.

Scott Overall, the best British athlete in the race this year, has had a disappointing couple of years when it comes to London Marathons. After having to pull out of the 2013 event with an injury, he then finished slower than his desired time in 2014, but is back fighting and wants to beat his debut time this year. He tells us;

I can do the time, I have it in my legs, I just have to go out and do it. It’s a special event for me as it takes place in my home town. I’ve been participating since I was young enough to be in the mini London Marathon and grew up watching it on TV – I’d just like to run it well!

Scott went on to tell us that his main priority now is to get a good time at the marathon on Sunday and then hopefully qualify for the Rio Olympics, which will be held next year, an event that Sonia is also hoping to be part of.

The trio were asked whether they were disappointed that there weren’t more British athletes in this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon, and all three answered with a resounding yes. Scott described why he thinks there aren’t more men participating:

There was a time when a time of 2:10 was competitive. Now with the times the Kenyans are running it’s just not competitive which means the lads can’t use that as full time job and so don’t have time to train.

The interview took a strange turn when the women revealed that they both enjoy shark diving. Emma told us how she actually got caught inside the cage when she gave it a go, while Sonia actually did it on training breaks in South Africa. When asked whether he had any strange or daring hobbies, Scott gave us a firm answer of “No. I’m very sensible.”


About Ian Humphreys