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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 April 2007, 17:00 GMT 18:00 UK
London Marathon 2007



Steve Cram
By Steve Cram

The 27th London Marathon will go down as one of the hottest on record - the races themselves may not have been that hot but they did underline what London is all about.

The women's race tends to be dominated by one or two athletes while the men's race is a close-run affair where the result is in doubt until the latter stages.

I love races like the one we saw played out among the men in London. There were so many good people trying to work it out tactically and dropping off one by one right until the end.

Zhou Chunxiu and Martin Lel celebrate their wins
Zhou and Lel ran tactically different races to pick up their trophies

Experience does tell and this time, in a reverse of last year, Martin Lel out-kicked Felix Limo, who crossed in third.

It was a little bit slow for double world champion Jaouad Gharib and he probably learnt a lesson as he may have been too confident coming into the last miles, smiling and looking around.

There were good debuts for Abderrahim Goumri, who was second, and seventh-placed American Ryan Hall.

It will be interesting to see how organisers of the London Marathon take the event forward now.

If they want to launch an assault on the world record they might not want to have as many good people in the race.

I think the packed field also had an effect on Haile Gebrselassie, who pulled out around the 19-mile mark.

Zhou's victory is a big step forward for the Chinese - and that is ominous ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics

I'm not sure what the reasons were that he fell apart - only he knows that - but the difference between his good marathon races and the ones where it has gone wrong for him is the depth of the quality in the field.

He has run his best marathons when he is on his own, and running a marathon where there are lots of really good people is a different type of race.

Where Haile will go from here is interesting. He said the 2008 Beijing Olympics was a target and maybe even 2012, but he will now have to be clear about which races to take part in between now and Beijing.

He has run badly here and he is not injured so it looks like something cropped up on the day or during the race itself - the marathon does that to people.

The sport needs people like Haile but the marathon is a tough, tough event and is completely and utterly unpredictable. He will have to sit down and work out what to do, but I hope he is in Beijing.

(Left to right) Abderrahim Goumri, Jaouad Gharib, Paul Tergat, Felix Limo and Martin Lel
Will London Marathon chiefs invite less top athletes to boost the pace?

Zhou Chunxiu was always going to run as well as she could in London and she coped with a fast early pace and the difficult conditions to come out of it very well.

London was also a big opportunity for Lornah Kiplagat but I think she forced it too much when leading early on. If she had been a little cleverer she might have done better than fifth.

Zhou's victory is a big step forward for the Chinese as they don't normally do well in big City marathons and, ahead of the Beijing Olympics, that is a little ominous.

However, that is not to say because Zhou has run two hours 21 minutes here that she will be able to replicate that in Beijing.

No marathon runner would volunteer to go out and run 26 miles in Beijing in August and it will be very hard for everyone.

What Zhou's performance in London has shown, however, is that she has the ability and will be a big contender on home soil.

606: DEBATE

Both of the Britons ran really, well. Liz Yelling ran a personal best in tough conditions and Mara Yamauchi can go to the Worlds and Beijing knowing she has a good chance of finishing right up there.

If she can stay fit and healthy, she will continue to get better all the time.

The outcome of the London Marathon is not irrelevant to world record holder Paula Radcliffe's comeback plans - but it sort of is.

Yes we are just 15 months away from the Olympics but an awful lot will happen between now and then.

At the minute, Paula if just concentrating on getting herself back to full training alongside being a mother - and I don't think she will have been watching.

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