Banchory’s Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Robbie Simpson says it’s unlikely he’ll take his place in the elite-only London marathon on October 4.
After months of agonising over whether the mass participation element of the race could go ahead – with 40,000 people entered – organisers finally admitted defeat at the end of last week.
But they remain committed to proceeding with a small field of top world stars led by Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge and Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele. A few of Britain’s top marathoners, including Deeside’s Simpson, have also been invited to take part.
The race will be held within a “secure biosphere” which organisers say is a contained safe environment similar to that at other top professional sporting events.
The athletes will cross the usual finish line on the Mall after 19.8 laps of a spectator-free route around St James’s Park.
It has also been confirmed that following a change of heart from World Athletics, times recorded at London will be eligible for the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games. The governing body had previously decided that the qualifying period wouldn’t open again until December.
Simpson said: “It’s a really tricky situation. When they first started talking about a possible elite-only race, months ago, I said I was interested.
“But as time has gone on and no definite decision was being made, I went off the idea. At the moment I haven’t committed.
“On the one hand it doesn’t seem as though there will be any serious races for a long time, so it’s an opportunity to compete. And it’s now back to being an Olympic qualifier as World Athletics changed its mind about that.
“However, there’s a lot of reasons not to do it. I still feel it might not happen. It might not be possible to get there if lockdowns keep reappearing.
“Also, I’m not keen on doing a race with that number of laps and such a small field. It would be discouraging to get lapped by the leaders and I’m not so sure I’d get the best out of myself.
“I’ve also changed my training. As there was no decision about London, I decided to focus more on training for trail races after it was announced that the Lairig Ghru race in September and the Bennachie Ultra in October would be going ahead.
“So I’m not sure if there’s enough time now to get into peak shape for a marathon by switching back to that type of training. I’d need to have decided two months ago that I was definitely doing it.
“At the moment my thinking is that I’d be happy enough to do the Lairig Ghru and Bennachie races and wait until next year to do a marathon.”