By Rich Hook
This year’s marathon will be bigger and better than ever before, according to Brighton Mayor Geoff Wells.
Mayor Wells said the second running of the race will be “an event to remember”.
His comments were echoed by Olympic gold medallist Steve Cram, race organiser Tim Hutchings and leader of Brighton & Hove City Council Mary Mears.
Mr Cram, who will start the race on Sunday, said the marathon has grown to the point that it can be considered as second best in Britain, behind only London.
Race director Tim Hutchings agreed with the view of his former on-track rival and said:
“Many established marathons were very jealous of the numbers we were able to attract for our first race last year, and the goal is to grow year-on-year.
“Everything’s on the up and we’re hoping to reach 20,000 runners for the Olympic year .”
This year an estimated crowd of 100,000 people will cheer on over 10,000 runners as they traverse the course from Preston Park to Madeira Drive.
Councillor Mears is proud to support an event that fits the city perfectly and said:
“No other attraction brings as much attention to the city, and the sporting achievements of Steve [Cram], Tim [Hutchings] and Dan [Robinson] add a tangible sense of occasion to the event.”
British Olympian and Commonwealth bronze medallist Robinson is the star turn in the men’s race and is looking forward to a competitive race:
“I’m looking at trying to get something under two hours and 16 minutes, as that’s the qualifying time for the World Championships [in South Korea in August], but if conditions dictate it’s a slower, tactical race then I’ll just be looking to run well and place in the top three.
“Brighton is a great event because it encourages competitive racing” (Dan Robinson)
Mr Robinson, who has a personal best of 2:12:14, marked out his key challengers as Ethiopan Ambesa Tolosa (2:08:56), winner of the Paris Marathon in 2004, and Kenyan pair Philemon Kiprop Boit (2:10:55) and Richard Bett Rioch (2:16:15).
But the Brit number one thinks he can keep pace with them, as long as the heat doesn’t get out of hand.
Mr Hutchings said that the predicted temperatures of 21ºc would create ‘red flags’ for runners, and urged non-elite athletes in particular to remain aware of the heat rather than try for fast times.
Mr Cram said that first-time runners should still prepare in the same way as elite athletes and not do anything silly during the race given the conditions.
He said: “The clock and the [mile] markers don’t lie, any runners who go out and are a minute under their time after three miles should try to ease off and respect the conditions.
“People will go out and think they feel really great, but in this heat they could hit the wall and put themselves in real danger.”
Mr Hutchings agreed and urged runners to make their first marathon a positive experience.
Mr Hutchings predicted the race will inject £5m into the local economy and more than £3m being raised for the 230 charities involved in the race.
The 2011 Brighton Marathon takes place this Sunday April 11 from 9am beginning at Preston Park.