What makes the London Marathon such a unique event is that while you have swarms of rhinos, giant dolls, runners carrying fridges and singing karaoke making their way round the 26.2 mile course, in front of them all are a bunch of elite athletes competing for one of the top titles in the world.
We caught up with some of these elite athletes at London Marathon HQ where they talked preparation, their feelings about Sunday and… chickens!
The group is quite a mixture. You have Feyisa Lilesa who has run 20 marathons, Florence Kiplagat who is a London Marathon veteran (having come first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth!) alongside Vivian Cheruiyot and Bedan Karoki Muchiri who have not only never run the London Marathon before, they’ve never run a marathon before!
Vivian says that in some ways this helps – she’s not scared because she’s never done it! Maybe ignorance is bliss…
Florence says she doesn’t like being reminded that she’s never won the London Marathon, but that it encourages her to keep working hard.
Kenenisa Bekele tells us that some races are harder than others and some preparation is harder than others, but that life as a marathon runner is never easy.
This sentiment is echoed by Feyisa Lilesa who tells us about his move from his home in Ethiopia to Arizona.
It was extremely difficult moving to Arizona. Even once my family moved over it was still difficult because I miss my people and I miss my country”
Despite this being a common theme, the runners know each other well and in some cases are great friends and even class themselves as family. Mary Keitany thanks her “Kenyan sisters” (Florence Kiplagat and Vivien Cheruiyot) for encouraging her and keeping her motivated.
Ghebreslassie tells us that he was inspired to become a runner by watching his countryman Bekele on the TV, while Bekele makes the room chuckle when he’s asked if he’s disappointed that Eliud Kipchoge is not here to defend his title.
No. I am not disappointed. I hope to run with him again in the future but I am not disappointed he’s not here this year!”
One thing is echoed over and over by the runners; running at the London Marathon is special. These elite athletes – who are taking part in the Abbot World Marathon Majors when they run the London Marathon – mention the crowd, the honour it is to be invited to run such a great course.
And of course, it wouldn’t be the London Marathon without Florence Kiplagat entertaining us with her chicken stories (she has around 1200!)
Some of them are stolen, some of them died and of course, I ate some of them. I have to eat!