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Page last updated at 16:11 GMT, Monday, 18 April 2011 17:11 UK

Steve Cram on the 2011 London Marathon

Pavey and Damen delighted with qualifying time

Steve Cram
By Steve Cram
BBC Sport commentator

Sunday saw another great London Marathon, with a new course record set by Kenya's Emmanuel Mutai hinting that the world record could fall sooner rather than later, but for Britain's men it was a disappointing day.

Mutai set a new London mark of two hours four minutes and 40 seconds - just 41 seconds shy of Haile Gebrselassie's world best.

And a day later the Ethiopian great's time was surpassed by an incredible 57 seconds in Boston by another Mutai - Geoffrey, unrelated to Emmanuel - with a time of 2:03.02, although the Kenyan's time in Massachusetts is not eligible to stand as a world record because it was on a downhill course and assisted by a tailwind.

On top of all of this, Gebrselassie returned from injury by winning a half marathon in Vienna in 1:00:18 on Sunday. He'll be gearing up for a fast marathon later in the year as he takes aim at the Olympics in 2012.

The weekend's results show the top athletes are already laying down intimidating markers for London - expect most of the leading contenders to run no more than two or three more races before next year's gold medal race.

Had Emmanuel Mutai run that sort of race on a faster course, like Berlin, he probably could have gone under 2:04. Even here you wonder what might have been possible if he had been a little bit quicker early on.

All the talk during the week was that we were expecting a course record but I'm not sure Mutai is the one we would have picked. However, he was hugely impressive, particularly in the last 10 miles.

It was a pretty disappointing day for Britain's men, and I think Andrew Lemoncello will be less than satisfied after suffering various problems with a stitch and stomach cramps, finishing 15th in a time of 2:15.

Apparently he was looking forward to the race and had felt he could run under the Olympic qualifying time of 2:12 set by UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee.

Unlike racing on the track, with the marathon you spend a long time training for a single chance in the event.

Lemoncello will have to go away now and look at his plan for the rest of the year. If he wants to get to the London Olympics in 2012 he's really going to have to look at another marathon, either in the autumn or next spring.

Lee Merrien knocked a minute off his best time and was the first British athlete home - but I think he would also have wanted to run a fair bit faster than his 2:14:27.

British women Jo Pavey and Louise Damen ran well in their first marathons. Jo blew away some of the doubts over whether she could make the transition from track athlete to marathon runner.

I think she went out with the intention of running a bit faster than the time of 2:28 she ended up with, but she held it together well and was well inside the qualifying time for the World Championships in August.

If you go a little too fast early on then you run the danger of falling apart later. Jo looked pretty good when she finished and will probably be thinking in the next day or two that she can do better than that next time.

Weir reveals rival Frei helped him to win

The first marathon you run always gives you a benchmark; people are often a fair bit quicker by the third or fourth time they do it. Now the Olympic marathon is a genuine option but she won't be the only Brit in contention.

Mara Yamauchi - who was second in London two years ago - is coming back from injury and world record-holder Paula Radcliffe should also return soon after giving birth to her second child.

Paula is due to be back in action at the Great Manchester Run - a 10km race - in a month's time.

Then she can start to look at the marathon later in the year and make sure she gets selected for 2012 - I'm pretty sure that's at the forefront of her mind at the minute.

Once she's done that she can start thinking about who she's going to be running against.

David Weir, who claimed a record fifth wheelchair London Marathon title, would have been very disappointed had he not been victorious. He's a tough competitor and he set out to win in London.

When we spoke recently he told me how well things were going and how he wants to compete over the summer to give him confidence for next year at the Paralympics.

Shelly Woods - narrowly beaten on the line in the women's wheelchair event - is hoping to get a few more races on the track in Diamond League events.

Although there are lots of road races and marathons, there aren't as many big track events through the summer for wheelchair athletes and Shelly is keen to get as much experience as possible.

Steve Cram was talking to BBC Sport's Jessica Creighton

see also
Weir reveals rival Frei helped him to win
17 Apr 11 |  Disability Sport
Mutai breaks London Marathon record
17 Apr 11 |  Athletics
Keitany wins women's marathon
17 Apr 11 |  Athletics
McAndrew salutes Cracknell return
17 Apr 11 |  Athletics
Athletics on the BBC
21 Apr 11 |  Athletics

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