Britain’s Chris Thompson will take pole position at the adidas Silverstone Half Marathon this Sunday, 2 March, as he gears up for his full marathon debut alongside his old friend and training partner Mo Farah at the Virgin Money London Marathon on 13 April.
The 2010 European 10,000m silver medallist will be hoping to tune up for his first appearance over the classic distance with a confidence-boosting win at the home of British motor racing where the official warm-up race for the London Marathon has been held since 2003. The 32-year-old will have his sights set on Matt Smith’s nine-year-old course record of 65 minutes 23 seconds as he heads a field of up to 10,000 runners over the 13.1-mile course. The Aldershot, Farnham and District athlete, a former national 5000m champion, holds a half-marathon best of 61:00 from the 2012 Great North Run and has completed the distance in less than 65 minutes four times in the last two years.
Thompson will be aiming to follow fellow British international Scott Overall as the 12th winner of the men’s race before the pair tackle the London Marathon the following month. “This will be my first time at the Silverstone Half Marathon and it is important for me to put in a good performance ahead of my marathon debut in April,” said Thompson. “I know Scott has won for the last two years so I will certainly be looking to follow in his footsteps and set myself up for a good run in London.”
The adidas Half Marathon at the famous Northampton racetrack will also be a crucial test of fitness for some of Britain’s greatest Paralympians as they press the accelerator on their preparations for the full marathon in six weeks’ time. David Weir will be going for his third successive win in the men’s wheelchair race after he smashed Simon Lawson’s Silverstone course record by nearly eight minutes to win two years ago before going on to claim his sixth London Marathon wheelchair crown and race to four gold medals at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Weir retained the Silverstone title last year and will be looking for his hat-trick this weekend as he prepares to take on the best racers in the world in the British capital in April, where he’s tipped to overtake Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson as the most successful wheelchair racer in London Marathon history.
Weir has already shown great form in 2014 with victory over the reigning London Marathon champion Kurt Fearnley in the Australia Day 10km race in Sydney, and he believes another win will set him up for the challenge ahead. “I had something of an off season last year after the highs of 2012, so it’s been really important to put down a marker this year to let my rivals know I’m hungry to carry on winning,” said Weir. “I did that in Australia where I was in great form, and Silverstone will be another important step on the road towards the London Marathon and the Commonwealth Games this summer.”
Another British Paralympian Jade Jones returns to the Silverstone track to defend her women’s wheelchair crown after she scorched more than 10 minutes from the course record to claim a massive victory on her debut 12 months ago. A quadruple world junior champion on the track, Jones clocked 62:09 12 months ago and went on to win the Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon for the third time in a row. The 18-year-old Teessider won by more than 30 minutes last year but she won’t have such an easy ride this time as the two-time London Marathon champion and Paralympic silver medallist Shelly Woods joins her on the start line looking for her first victory in this event.
Sally Baker of the Rugby Triathlon club will hope to repeat her 2012 victory in the women’s able-bodied race with a personal best of 83:20 the target to beat. Thousands of other club athletes and fun runners will also be looking for PBs and morale-boosting runs as they test their form and fitness ahead of spring marathons.
Emmerdale star Chris Chittel will drop the chequered flag to get them all underway at 12 noon as many of his fellow TV actors join the throng of celebrities, fundraisers and fancy-dress runners hoping to raise money for many worthy causes.