Eight Dursley Running Club athletes ran the London Marathon on Sunday 24 April 2016: Graeme Hawkins, Andy Hara, Dave Halford, Peter Woodward, Nathalie Langley, Neil Malpass, Rich Shirley, Laura Gaby and Rachael Goatman-Thomas. Read Dave's article to hear more about the race and, most importantly, how our fellow Dursley runners fared.


The Sunday of the Virgin London Marathon saw perfect weather conditions for the 2016 version of this iconic race. This year the millionth runner to cross the line since the London Marathon began would mark the races incredible allure to runners old and young, fast and slow. As ever an extremely high class elite field was gathered. In the men’s elite race the Kenyan Eluid Kipchoge was the pre-race favourite, with Stanley  Biwott and the legendary Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele hoping rather than expecting to beat him. With pacemakers in place the first 10km were run in 28:37, the pace then settled down to around 14:50 per km split. Kipchoge kicked away from Biwott with around two miles to go crossing the line in 02:03:05 achieving a course record, a personal best and putting himself in the box seat for the Olympics.  Biwott had to be pleased with a personal best of over a minute finishing in 02:03:51.In the women’s elite race there was much drama with both race favourite Mary Keitany and Jemima Sumgong falling. Sumgong picked herself up from a heavy fall with about 7km to go to re-join the leading pack which included Tigist Tufa the 2015 winner. Sumgong then broke away with Tufa, as they ran down the embankment Tufa could be seen to be weaving from side to side a sure sign of tiredness, and Sumgong stretched out a comfortable lead as the pair reached Buckingham palace, with the winner looking at ease as she crossed the line in 02:22:58. In the race for GB Olympic Selection Alyson DIxon and Sonia Sammuels both ran well outside their PBs but having already achieved the UK Athletics Olympic qualifying time finishing first and second was what they needed to do to guarantee their place in Rio. Charlotte Purdue was third, in 02:32:48 well within the IAAF qualifying time but not quick enough for the UKA. Callum Hawkins was first GB male and an impressive 8th overall in 02:10:52, with Tsegai Tewelde second home in 02:12:23, with Hawkins older brother Derek just over 30 seconds behind.


Running the same course, eight Dursley Running Club athletes were at the VLM, Graeme Hawkins, Andy Hara, Dave Halford, Peter Woodward, Nathalie Langley, Neil Malpass, Rich Shirley, Laura Gaby and Rachael Goatman-Thomas. The last of these taking another step on her fantastic journey from alcoholic to athlete, raising around £4000 for the charity Addaction. The weather conditions were ideal for marathon running.

Rich, running his first ever marathon, was through 5km in 21:21, with a half marathon PB of under 85 min, 3 h looked possible. Graeme posted 25:48 for his first 5k, this was true old school running, take it out hard and hold on! Behind Graeme, Neil, Dave and Peter started more conservatively. Rachel completed 10K in 01:17:32, slowing to a more realistic pace of around 9 min/km.

Rich showed exemplary pacing up to 25km with his pace varying by only 3 s, at half way in 91 min. By now all the Dursley athletes were well into their stride, Nathalie had started steadily along with Laura at 6:46 mins/km pace, and maintained it around that mark up to 35km whilst Laura dropped away.  At 30km the Dursley athletes’ efforts began to take their toll. Rich dramatically slowed, Graeme also suffered over the last 12k and Neil reported his legs going AWOL at around this stage. Rachel dropped to 10:16 but picked it up again finishing strongly and 9 mins/km. Andy and Nathalie limited their losses over the last 12 kms with Andy picking up his pace in the last 2km to provide textbook demonstration of race pacing, his first 5K his slowest until he reached 35km and the variance over the race was a mere 22 s.

Rich kept going to be first home and in 03:12:13. Graeme was next home in 03:52:32, an excellent 46th in the MV65 category. Dave came home comfortably under 4 h, 03:57:34, Peter 04:00:07, Andy’s excellent pacing saw him home in 04:07:57, Neil 04:10;35, Nathalie 04:45:27 Laura 04:49:57, with  Rachel, the club’s much-respected Lanterne Rouge, finishing in an incredible 06:11:17.