The London Marathon is this Sunday and weather is once again set to be terribly British for the October date.

Everyone is playing catch-up with our taper articles and doing some last minute efforts around the London Marathon Expo. It’s nearly time for a mass start at the London Marathon. It feels good being able to write that again.

The elite racers don’t often make the mistake of spending too long at the expo, although who can forget Sir Mo Farah falling off that treadmill a couple years back?

At this point the best things you can be doing for your race is preparing your kit, doing some carb-loading and making sure you have your race snacks set out. Especially if you’re planning a flat-lay for Instagram tomorrow.

In the days before a race a lot might go through your head. That little niggle you thought had disappeared feels it’s the best time to reappear and you might even have the odd dream about missing your bus to the start. But what goes through the heads of our elites? Well we have the press conferences to let us know.

The top women

Brigid Kosgei rocked the running world when she boldly set out well under Paula Radcliffe’s world record in Chicago and smashed through the finish line. This weekend, once again, it feels like the Kenyan has a point to prove.

“I ran the Olympics just last month and my body is still very tired. But I have done a lot of preparation and now I am OK, so I’m here in London ready to do my best again. After Tokyo I had two days’ break then I carried on training and it went well. I want to defend my title.”

Normally one might suggest that a marathon last month might leave a runner in trouble for those final few miles, but Kosgei is a special athlete. Add to this a few more runners doing similar doubles in recent years, especially given the lower impact the 26.2 miles have had on some legs due to the carbon plated shoes as well.

It’s going to be exciting to watch regardless. You certainly wouldn’t bet against the twice winner and world record holder.

Who will be Kosgei’s main challengers?

Birhane Dibaba didn’t beat around the bush, “Like all the athletes I came here to win the race. It is very tough, of course, but I want to beat them and to do my best.”

Six weeks ago Joyciline Jepkosgei ran 65:16 in Berlin, breaking Sifan Hassan’s course record. If you were planning out a perfect marathon build-up this might be your pre-race tune-up, rather than a marathon in hot and humid Japan.

“Six weeks ago I ran in Berlin to test myself. It was part of my preparation for London.

This half marathon was the best for me and my training has gone well over the last few weeks. I am ready to run sub-2:20 and I will try my best to do it.”

We certainly expect Jepkosgei under 2:20 if she has a good day, the question really is, will she be under her PB of 2:18:40?

Eddie Keogh for Virgin Money London Marathon

Photo: Eddie Keogh for Virgin Money London Marathon

Disappointment into strength

British women’s marathoning has been going from strength to strength in recent years and one reason for this is the determined and inspiring work done by the likes of Charlotte Purdue.

It seems the disappointment with missing the Olympics has been turned into a positive, with an ideal buildup for London and high hopes for race day.

“It’s very weather-dependent but I’ve got Mara [Yamauchi’s] 2:23:12 in my head.” said the Nic Bideau coached runner. “I always want to run every year and for me the London Marathon is as exciting as the Olympics, so I put all my focus into training for this race.”

Yamauchi tweeted that she would be watching eagerly, tweeting “I’m gonna be on the edge of my seat till 11:23:13 on Sunday morning!” but wishing Purdue well and offering the best coffee and cake in Teddington if she’s successful.

Hard work and consistency brings athletes to the fore

Another British athlete in the elite female start with great potential is Samantha Harrison. After a meteoric rise in the last couple of years, then unfortunately missing out on the British Marathon Trial this spring, Harrison will be exciting to watch this weekend.

“It’s been a whirlwind really. It’s all happened so quickly in the space of two or three years. If you’d asked me two-and-a-half years ago if I could be in the position I am now, I would probably have laughed.

“It just goes to show if you are dedicated and put in the training and make the sacrifices, you never know where you’re going to end up. If you can get in a mindset and give it your all, anyone can do it.”

Natasha Cockram  (far right) during the Muller British Athletics Marathon Trials. Credit: Nigel Bramley

Last year’s first Brit across the line, Natasha Cockram, sounds like she’s turned a corner in terms of injury free running and lowering intensity might have been key.

“This is my first marathon injury-free and completely pain free, so I’m really looking forward to it. It’s meant my training hasn’t been quite as intense as normal but I think being injury-free is more important.

“I definitely want a PB and to bring the Welsh record down into the 2:20s. It was so close last time.”

Enjoy the writing of our editor Robbie Britton, then check out his first book, 1001 Running Tips, due to be released this Autumn.