Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon
For immediate release: Thursday 13 February 2014
Mini London Marathon video to inspire Britain’s future stars
London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic champions Mo Farah and David Weir are just two of a galaxy of British athletics stars who feature in a new video about the Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon launched today to coincide with the start of a two-month countdown to this year’s event on Sunday 13 April.
The Mini London Marathon is an annual series of races for the country’s top 2,000 young athletes staged over the final three miles of the famous London Marathon course on the same day as the London Marathon itself. First held in 1986, and now the official British Road Running Championships for young athletes, it has become a seedbed for future sporting champions, giving many burgeoning world stars their first experience of a major event in front of a large crowd.
The four-minute video highlights the event’s role in inspiring young athletes such as Farah and Weir in the earliest stages of their careers. It goes live today on the Mini Marathon website, Facebook and Twitter pages accompanied by blogs from past winners such as Paralympic champion Hannah Cockroft and world triathlon champion Non Stanford who describe the event’s crucial role in inspiring them to seek future sporting success.
Cockroft, who won the mini wheelchair race in 2009 and 2010 before becoming a double Paralympic champion at London 2012, writes that: “Looking back, 26 April 2009 was really the beginning of my career as an elite athlete.
“Every mile of barrier was lined with people up to 10 deep. Although it was a tough race, the noise really carried you along and, aside from the Paralympics, I have never received support quite as overwhelming as I did that day.
“Only when a volunteer at the end of the race told me I had won the girls’ event did I actually realise my achievement. I think that was the moment that made me thirsty for victory.”
Stanford became the world triathlon champion in London’s Hyde Park last September, but she tasted Mini Marathon success on The Mall four times for Wales between 2001 and 2005.
“Some of my fondest memories from running come from the Mini London Marathon,” she says. “It was always such an exciting weekend. I loved the atmosphere and grandeur of such a prestigious event; my excitement certainly carried me to a handful of victories.
“I remember one year being presented with my trophy by Jonny Wilkinson, and even a die-hard Wales fan like myself couldn’t keep help but feel very smug.
“I was also very fortunate to race the year that Paula Radcliffe ran her amazing world record, and remember watching her tearing down towards Buckingham Palace. Paula was one of my idols growing up and I had goose bumps watching her that day.
“The London Mini Marathon played a significant role in my early career. It gave me an insight into the excitement of big races, and I always left the big city inspired to one day follow in the footsteps of my sporting heroes.”
The launch of the video also coincides with the arrival of the first entries for this year’s races from UK regional and home country team managers around the nation, lists that are likely to include the names of Britain’s stars of the future.
In the video Farah talks about the excitement he felt on his first Mini Marathon appearance as a 14-year-old Hounslow schoolboy in 1997, aged 14, when he finished second. He returned to win in 1998, 1999 and 2000 before going on to become a 5000m and 10,000m champion at the 2012 Olympic Games, and at European and World Championships. He is preparing to race the full London Marathon for the first time this year.
Weir dominated the Mini Wheelchair Marathon in his youth, winning seven times, and has since claimed six London Marathon wheelchair titles as well six gold medals at Paralympic Games. This year he is aiming to become the most successful wheelchair racer in London Marathon history.
The video also features Shelly Woods, who won the mini wheelchair event twice in her youth before rising to become senior champion in 2007 and 2012 and win the London Paralympic silver medal.
Not all future champions were mini marathon winners, however. Olympic triathlon medallists Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee both ran the mini marathon without success, proving that experience of competing, together with perseverance, can often be as vital as the taste of victory.
The latest star to make the transition from the Mini Marathon to the senior stage is Jade Jones, who was second to Cockroft in the girls’ wheelchair race in 2010, and then won three times in a row, including last year when she broke her own course record.
Jones competed for TeamGB at London 2012 and won the senior race at the Silverstone half marathon last March. She will race her first full marathon alongside Woods at this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon on 13 April.
London Marathon race director Hugh Brasher said: “The Virgin Money Giving Mini Marathon is a fantastic way to inspire the next generation of athletes. They still have a long way to go, but hopefully we play an important part in helping them on that journey.”