Capital distance star Freya Murray takes a huge step into unknown territory when she tackles one of the World’s most prestigious races, the Virgin London Marathon, on Sunday.
The 28-year-old Edinburgh AC runner, who is currently living in Newcastle, has a distinguished record over country and track and, with a personal best of 32 minutes 28 seconds for 10,000 metres and a more than respectable time of 52:27 for the less often run 10 miles, she would appear to have all the right credentials for her move up to the full marathon distance of 26 miles 385 yards.
“I’m feeling a wee bit nervous but more excited,” said Murray, who, particularly in the light of her recent history of Achilles tendon problems, has been understandably coy about her targets for her debut.
“My preparation has gone pretty well so I just need to get out there and do my best on Sunday now,” stated the six-times Scottish cross-country champion.
Murray has spent much of this last winter at high altitude in Colorado Springs, where she has been training with coach and former London winner Steve Jones.
She will have fellow Scot Susan Partridge as a target, the Leeds-based runner having a best of 2:34.13, but Murray would not be human if she did not entertain a quiet hope that she could also achieve the UK Athletics selection target for the Olympics of 2:31.0.
But while Partridge was improving her best half marathon to 71:34 in Bath last month, Murray was disappointed with her new best of 72:32 in New York.
In addition to the two Scots, there are plenty of other contenders for the one vacant place in the British team for the London 2012 Marathon, including Jo Pavey, who has opted out of Sunday’s race in the hope that her time of 2:28.24 set last year will suffice. Liz Yelling, best of 2:28.33, is chasing her third Olympics and, like Murray, has also been preparing in Colorado, while Claire Hallissey broke 2:30.0 last year and Louise Damen ran exactly that in London last time.
But up front, last year’s winner Mary Keitany of Kenya, one of four runners in the field to have broken 2:20.0, is favourite to retain her crown.