The 1994 London Marathon: Mexican wave ready to sweep home: Hugh Jones, winner of the London Marathon in 1982, sees little hope for the British in this year's race

A YEAR ago Eamonn Martin stormed over Westminster Bridge to win the 1993 London Marathon. Today's event finishes in The Mall, with its regal backdrop of Buckingham Palace, but even Martin himself admits that it will be difficult to command a repeat performance. No one has yet won the men's race twice.

Although in good form, Martin's results are not as impressive as they were last year. His explanation is that his shorter races so far this year have merely been milestones in preparation for the marathon, and that he has not rested up before them. This accounts for the performances, but resting is as vital to marathon preparation as the training. There is a distinct possibility that he has overdone the training at the expense of his performance in the race.

Hard at Martin's heels last year was Isidro Rico, one of the wave of Mexican distance runners who have swept the world's major marathons over the past two years. This year, with Dionicio Ceron the race favourite, the London Marathon may finally succumb. He did not race here last time as he was otherwise engaged winning the Rotterdam Marathon. He has recorded two more victories since - one at altitude in Mexico City, and last December in the prestigious Fukuoka Marathon where he set the fastest time of the year.

That time is two minutes faster than Martin ran last year, but although the London course is fast, the weather is seldom favourable. An over-ambitious early pace can overturn pre-race form. Ceron's confidence on arrival in London was indicated by his suggestion that he wanted to be paced through half-way on a near world-record schedule. A capable man has been assigned the task, but if Ceron attempts such a telling pace in adverse conditions then more cautious starters may catch him as the whole field tires running into the wind over the last few miles.

Another pacemaker has been assigned to Martin, who will require a steadier speed. Last year he ran the first half in 64 minutes, and the second half nearly three minutes slower. There was no need to do more. But if Ceron sticks to his plans there could be a big pack hunting him down, which will give no one much chance of saving energy for a storming finish.

In the pack will be Artur Castro from Brazil and Salvatore Bettiol of Italy. In 1990, Bettiol tried unsuccessfully to track down the previous British winner to Martin, Allister Hutton, when the break came as early as six miles out. These are the men in form, but there are also some vintage performers in the field. Juma Ikaanga of Tanzania was consistently a top competitor throughout the 1980s, while Douglas Wakiihuri, world champion in 1987 and winner of the London race in 1989, runs his first marathon for two years.

As defending champion, Martin is seen as carrying British hopes, but he is not the fastest Briton in the field. Mike O'Reilly, who ran his fastest time behind Ceron in Fukuoka, takes that honour. He was pacemaker in the race last year, and says a 'comfortable' first half and a consistent pace is the best way to be competitive over the full distance. He is a Londoner who has spent most of the past 10 years living at altitude in New Mexico, alienated from both British and Irish athletic authorities. An itinerant professional, as most top runners are these days, he candidly admits the weakness of the British challenge: 'We have one or two good runners coming on, but no one at the very top.'

The organisers have recognised this in offering a separate prize money list for Britons finishing outside the top three. Bolstering incentives for home runners has long been the practice in US races, but it has never before happened in London. Many of the top British runners will be running their race against each other rather than the overseas opposition.

The late withdrawal of the Chinese team, who filled the first four places in last year's World Marathon Cup, has thinned out the women's field considerably. The competition today now comes down to a battle between Katrin Dorre of Germany, who has won the race twice, and the Australian Lisa Ondieki. Tatyana Dzbrailova of the Ukraine has the best chance of gatecrashing this duel, much as Dorre did last year, when a clash between Ondieki and Liz McColgan was what the media and the public expected.

Dorre is too canny a campaigner to underestimate the opposition. Like Ondieki, she was training at altitude until a few days before the race, using a formula that has worked for her before. Dorre's two victories were by the smallest margins seen in London, of about 100 yards each. This does not reflect a small margin of superiority but is rather an indication of her patience in awaiting an opportunity that can be pressed to advantage. In the long-run, that is often what is required to win. A third consecutive London victory was more than even the world-record holder, Ingrid Kristiansen, could manage. If Dorre achieves that today, she may finally step into the limelight which, despite her record, has eluded her in London.

(Map omitted)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
science
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
tv
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
Kristen Stewart and Rupert Sanders were pictured embracing in 2012
people
Sport
Mario Balotelli posed for this selfie during AC Milan's 5-1 defeat to Manchester City
sport
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth Games
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + ents
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
Extras
indybestSpice up your knife with our selection of delicious toppings
Sport
sport
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Horticulture Lecturer / Tutor / Assessor - Derbyshire

£15 - £18 per hour: Randstad Education Nottingham: As a result of our successf...

Retail Lecturer / Assessor / Tutor - Derbyshire

£15 - £18 per hour: Randstad Education Nottingham: Randstad Education are succ...

Business Studies Tutor / Assessor / Lecturer - Tollerton

£15 - £18 per hour: Randstad Education Nottingham: Randstad Education are succ...

ERP Business/ Implementation Analyst

£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: This is an e...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried