Natasha Cockram and Jonny Mellor seal top British positions at the 40th London Marathon

London British women Cockram Mitchell Barlow
Natasha Cockram (running handicap -0.2) and Jonny Mellor (running handicap -6.2) secured top British positions at the Virgin Money London Marathon. Meanwhile, Ben Connor (handicap -7.0) grabbed an Olympic qualifying standard on his marathon debut. David Weir was the best placed British finisher in the elite men’s wheelchair race. 

With Olympic qualifying standards to be achieved, there was plenty to play for at the London Marathon. Although, the event did not act as an official trial for Olympic Games selection for the British athletes.

There were outstanding performances from Jonny Mellor (handicap -6.2) and Ben Connor  (handicap -7.0) in the elite men’s race as both ran inside the Olympic qualifying standard. Mellor, who had already achieved the standard in Seville earlier this year, won the battle to be first British man across the line, while Connor impressed on his marathon debut.

The British race rapidly pared down to a group of five, ably paced by British record holder and Olympic 10,000m champion Sir Mo Farah (handicap -7.1). The tall loping Connor was prominent among them, with Mellor tucked alongside training partner Ross Millington (handicap -5.7) with Charlie Hulson (handicap -5.7) and Chris Thompson (handicap -5.6).

Connor and Mellor were the leading Britons throughout the contest, and at the halfway point, the duo and Charlie Hulson (handicap -5.7) went through in 65:18 with a projected finish time comfortably inside the Olympic qualifying pace of 2:11:30. As Hulson dropped off the pace, Connor and Mellor battled it out in the final six miles but with a couple of kilometres to go, Mellor extended his lead, coming home in 2:10:38. For Connor, despite visible signs of fatigue in the closing stages, he managed to hold on for an outstanding debut time of 2:11:20.

Joshua Griffiths (handicap -5.9)  ran the best marathon of his career as he clocked a personal best of 2:13:11 to capture third place amongst the British contingent. Chris Thompson (handicap -5.6)  followed in 2:13:32, while Hulson was the fifth British finisher in 2:13:34.

The best performance, from a UK man, was Stephen Scullion (handicap -6,2), from Belfast, who set a Northern Irish record of 2:09:49. He improved his personal best by over two minutes to round off his coninued upward progress in 11th place overall.Stephen competes for Ireland in international competition and now has the fastest marathon time of the Irish contenders for Tokyo.

In a frantic finish to the contest, Shura Kitata (ETH) outsprinted Vincent Kipchumba (KEN) down the Mall to win in 2:05:41, while Sisay Lemma (KEN) was third in 2:05:45.

 Earlier in the day, Natasha Cockram (handicap -0.2) was the top British runner following a hard-working display in the wet conditions in central London, while Naomi Mitchell (handicap -0.1) secured a significant personal best.

Cockram was part of the leading group of Britons in the early stages of the contest, going through halfway just a couple of seconds down on Lily Partridge (handicap -1.4)  but two miles later, she was the leading Brit as she sat behind the pacemaker, Eilish McColgan (handicap -3.3). 

As Partridge and Steph Twell (handicap -2.5) withdrew from the race before 30km, Mitchell superbly manoeuvred through the field to move ahead of Cockram, and she was on target for a  big personal best. As the final few miles unfolded, the latter pushed on again, moving away from Mitchell to seal a time of 2:33:19 with her compatriot just four seconds behind which was a four minute PB. 

Tracy Barlow (handicap -0.3)  secured the third British placing through in 2:34:42 while Tish Jones (handicap -0.5) followed in 2:36:25. 

The race was won by Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei in 2:18:58, with Sara Hall (USA) and Ruth Chepngetich rounding out the top three in times of 2:22:01 and 2:22:05 respectively.

The men’s wheelchair race was a tight battle with a group of six athletes, including eight-time champion David Weir and Paralympic champion Marcel Hug, and multiple world champion on the track, Brent Lakatos (CAN), entering the final six miles with little separating them. The congestion had not eased as they headed into the final lap, preparing for a thrilling sprint finish.

As they turned into the home straight, Lakatos held the advantage with Weir taking the long way around Hug to mount his attack. As the Swiss athlete faded, it was between the Canadian and the Briton over the final few metres. However, it was the former who used all his sprinting prowess to pull away and make history as he secured his first London Marathon title in a time of 1:36:04.

In the women’s wheelchair race, Shelly Woods (Coach Peter Wyman; Blackpool, Wyre & Fylde) – the sole British representative – did not finish following an early withdrawal. Nikita Den Boer (NED) was a surprise winner as she broke free from Manuela Schär (SUI) over the last few laps, as she won in 1:40:07. 

The Virgin London Marathon results here:

UK runbritain rankings for endurance events and age groups 

Other results from the weekend are on the following links: 

Road/multi terrain


Cross country