There aren’t many marathon runners who, come the closing stages, wish that 26.2 miles could be just a little bit further.
That’s the situation Callum Hawkins found himself in yesterday though as his remarkable late surge just failed to get him onto the medals podium. In the end, the 25-year-old Scot had to settle for fourth place, equalling the previous best finish by a Briton achieved by Peter Whitehead, and clocking a new personal best of two hours 10 minutes 17 seconds.
The Scottish cross-country champion, who finished 20th in the 10,000m on the track at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games three years ago, only ran his first marathon in Frankfurt in 2015, before an eighth-place finish at the London Marathon a year later earned him a spot at the Rio Olympics, where he finished an impressive ninth.
He had injury and illness problems in the build-up to yesterday but rose to the occasion with a sensational display. After starting strongly, he was dropped by a huge move by the leading pack around halfway before rallying with a storming late fightback which saw him pick off runners one by one.
Hawkins expressed disappointment afterwards that he hadn’t quite got that medal and said he would analyse what he could have done better. However, he was sure that he had made the right call not to commit fully with the halfway burst when it came.
“I should have maybe held a bit closer when that big move went, but it was a huge move,” he explained. “At the time they went I didn’t even think I could finish it was taking that much effort to even hold it, but on the last lap I just got another spur, felt strong and went from strength to strength.
“If I’d gone with the move I probably wouldn’t have finished. Well I would have but maybe walking over the line. It was huge.”
Kenya’s Geoffrey Kirui took victory over the four 10km loops starting and finishing at Tower Bridge in two hours, eight minutes and 27 seconds. Ethiopia’s Tamirat Tola claimed silver and Alphonce Felix Simbu held off Hawkins for that bronze.
When Hawkins was asked if he would have taken the fourth place and PB at the start, his answer was immediate. “No, I was wanting a medal,” he said. “I knew I could be close to a medal so I had that in mind, but there were some quality athletes today.
“I was maybe a bit too active at the start but I didn’t think so, I felt I was holding my own pace and going at a steady pace and they were surging and slowing down and everything. You never know. It’s a bit too early to say so I’ll need to look back at it. I’m pleased with fourth but I wanted a medal. To actually see it (the bronze medal finisher crossing the line) as I was finishing was a bit tough, but I gave it my all.”
A certain Mo Farah will soon be joining Hawkins on the roads. “Hopefully he’ll be seeing my back,” said the Scot with a mischievous smile. “No, he’s a quality athlete and hopefully it’ll be a good head to head.”
Rose Chelimo, the Kenyan who now competes for Bahrain, won gold in the women’s marathon in 2:27:11.