A host of British runners competed in Sunday’s (25 October) Frankfurt Marathon as they made their initial moves for 2017 Olympic qualification. Of the athletes taking part, however, only Callum Hawkins posted a time within the British Athletics’ selection standard, while Jonny Mellor, despite a strong showing in his first competitive marathon, finished just outside the qualifying time.
Like its Berlin counterpart, the Frankfurt course is known to be flat, fast and highly conducive to a PB. As such the race attracts more than 15,000 competitors annually on a route that moves through the city and its eye-catching skyline before going onwards to the area of Sachsenhausen then to Hochst, back along Mainzer Landstrabe through the city centre and giving participants a film star finish on the red carpet at the Festhalle.
Mellor was on course for a qualifying standard performance as he passed the half way mark at 66:46 but his pace dropped and he crossed the line in 2:16:52. This was, however, Mellor’s debut over 26.2 miles, which suggests he stands a good chance of reaching the required standard in the near future. The Liverpool Harrier commented on his Twitter feed: 'Deflated but not defeated. Lots learnt in Frankfurt, not the marathon debut I wanted but plenty to take from it and a solid 2:16 to build on.'
There was disappointment for Jess Coulson in the women’s competition, who, after passing half way on 74:24, looked likely to meet her target of 2:31. The Stockport Harrier was forced to pull out before the 35k mark however, and said: “Not the way I wanted my debut to go…but that's the game we are in...onwards and upwards…I'll be back for more.”
Leading the charge for the British contingent was Kilbarchan’s Callum Hawkins. The 23-year-old has been in fine form throughout the year, recording a second place showing and PB at the Great Scottish Run and 11th at the Great North last month. Hawkins crossed the line in 2:12:17, almost two minutes under the selection time of 2:14:00.
At the front of the field, Ethiopian duo Sisay Lemma and Gulume Tollesa took the spoils yet both had to work extremely hard in the closing stages to secure victory. Lemma, Lani Rutto and Alfers Lagat were tied as they approached the final km, yet the Ethiopian prevailed and set a PB of 2:06:26 en route to success.
Tollesa was neck and neck with compatriot Dinkinesh Mekash for the duration and only a sprint finish separated the two. Both runners were awarded a time of 2:23:13 yet it was Tollesa who won by a whisker.