SOUTHEND AC’s Paul Whittaker will be running his first marathon in London on Sunday hoping it is the start of a successful career over the distance.

The 24-year-old is using Sunday’s race to “dip his toe in the water” of the 26.2-mile distance after realising there wasn’t too many top British athletes giving the marathon a go.

Whittaker is happy with how training has been going and believes he is in shape to run around 2h 20m on Sunday, but like so many debut marathoners, realises there are a lot of unknowns.

“There haven’t been too many British athletes giving it a go and running 2h 15m/2h 20m recently, not like the old days,” said Whittaker. “So I thought it might be a good idea to see how I get on.

“If it doesn’t pay off then I would have at least had a good build up for the track season. I’m not going to start doing two or three marathons a year from now on. I plan to have a busy track season after this as I want to work getting my 5,000m and 10,000m times down.

“I would like to get my 5k time down to under 14 minutes and my 10k time to 29 minutes because you need that speed to make the pace of a marathon feel not so bad.”

Whittaker said he has been training for three months for this weekend, getting his mileage up to about 125 miles a week at his peak.

He swapped a long Sunday morning run for the Essex 20 in Langham at the last minute last month and said he felt comfortable on his way to running 1h 56m 27s.

But it’s the last six miles of the marathon which he hasn’t yet experienced.

“Actually I think it’s probably the last eight miles which people find tough,” said Whittaker. “I know I’m going to be fine for 18 miles but after that it is a step into the unknown.

“I feel I’m in shape to run around 2h 20m. I don’t think I can run 2h 15m at the moment. I’ve had some really consistent training but it’s only been for three months, I need to do that sort of training for six months at least.”

Southend Standard:


A NUMBER of Southend AC members will be proudly wearing the famous red and black vests around the streets of London on Sunday.

Michael Wisken, Paul Whittaker, Ty Farrer, Natalie Cummins, Jon Brown, Hayley Wisken, Anne Jenkinson, Jeff Bolton, Neil Hallam, Sally Newman-Russell, Glen Taylor, Georgie Wheeler and John Wheeler.

There would have been one more addition to the ranks of Seasiders, but sadly Vanessa Mathers has had to pull out because of injury.

The Seasiders are excited by the debuts of Paul Whittaker and Ty Farrer who has a half-marathon best of 79m 20s with both hoping to get their hands on the Jimmy  Lowen Trophy awarded to the first Southend athlete across the line in London.