So, now he is the UK's most famous ever 2.15 marathon guy – though not as famous as the UK’s 2.15 marathon woman! It’s a great story, fat ex-smoker to Commonwealth Games marathoner at age 40 where he ran outstandingly to set a UK V40 record of 2.15.16, which when you look at who had gone before him in the elite V40 stakes is fantastic stuff. What’s athletically quirky is that he did these 2014 exploits off the back of some very successful ultra running, whereas the usual trend is that ultras deaden or level off one’s marathon pace as the training compromises 10k/half marathon speed (relatively speaking, this is all in the realms of ‘long distance’). This largely explains why Way’s marathon pace in Glasgow was so very close to his PB pace for half marathon. Over the winter of 2013/14 I was in touch with the man himself as I arranged a deal for him at the Seville Marathon in February – the goal race shown on his popular blog as his winter training built up. About three weeks pre Seville he emailed me to advise of his withdrawal as he though a few more weeks would bring better results. I am happy to admit that at the time I thought this was maybe wishful thinking, he was pushing 40, and from a very late start he had hit 2.18 and had apparently plateaued at 10k and half marathon, so I wondered where he thought further improvement might come from. But as the 2.16 at VLM showed, the extra training block did indeed enable a PB by two minutes – that’s quite a chunk at this level, and that secured his Commonwealth place. One can only wonder what he will focus on next, and of course his blog rather than mine will be the best place to learn that.
Closer to home, it was fantastic to see clubmate Nick Torry also make the Glasgow team and running so well, one minute behind Way, with his final miles hampered by cramps. Another late starter, he has a slightly more traditional trajectory as his marathon progress has been linked in with 5k/10k track and road races, plus regular cross country, and indeed a low 64 minute half marathon that was within the World Championship qualifying standard. There’s a regular training link between a couple of the Serpie guys at my Parliament Hill group, who back up their Tuesday session with a Thursday evening longer sustained effort session with Nick, adapted to suit, given that his target marathon pace is now in line with their 10k race pace. Somewhat unusually at this level, Nick is self-coached though he has sought advice from numerous coaches and athletes, and doesn’t actually keep a training diary.