Athletics Weekly - - TO­GETHER WE RUN - WORDS: RYAN GOAD

Com­mon­wealth Games run­ner re­calls Mini Lon­don Marathon mem­o­ries

THE Vir­gin Money Giv­ing Mini Lon­don Marathon is one of the most pres­ti­gious youth events in the coun­try and has seen some of the cream of Bri­tish run­ners come through the sys­tem and then go on to make their mark on the world stage.

This year is the 10th year the

Mini Marathon has been the Bri­tish Cham­pi­onships for un­der-13, un­der-15 and un­der-17 ath­letes and held over the three-mile dis­tance.

In re­cent weeks in the run-up to the

2018 Vir­gin Money Lon­don Marathon we have looked at some of the ath­letes from across the United King­dom and North­ern Ire­land who have come through the ranks of the Mini Marathon to make it on the global stage and here, in our fi­nal fea­ture in the se­ries, we fo­cus on Jake Wight­man.

Of the six ath­letes we have spo­ken to in this se­ries, four are in the mid­dle-dis­tance fields at the Com­mon­wealth Games on the Gold Coast. And of those four, Wight­man is the only one who does not have a top 10 Mini Marathon re­sult on his CV. Laura Weight­man and Chris O’Hare both had fifth-placed fin­ishes in the Mini Lon­don Marathon, while Ciara Mageean (fea­tured in last week’s AW) won the event in 2009.

Wight­man’s best re­sult was 21st in the un­der-15 boys race in 2009 when he was more than a minute down on the win­ner and only the third Scot­tish counter on the day.

But for the Ed­in­burgh AC ath­lete, this proves re­sults at ju­nior level do not have to be the be all and end all – and he wants all the younger ath­letes pre­par­ing for this year’s Vir­gin Money Giv­ing Mini Lon­don Marathon on April 22 to re­mem­ber that.

“I did it twice in the mid­dle age groups (un­der-15s) and, at that age, I was not very grown up and I was just swal­lowed up,” Wight­man re­calls.

“But that was as good as I could have run on each day and that’s what is im­por­tant, just be­ing in­volved.

“My ad­vice to any­one run­ning this year is: You don’t get too many op­por­tu­ni­ties to



run in events like the Mini Marathon and it doesn’t mat­ter where you fin­ish, you just have to en­joy it. It’s all about the long-term and stay­ing in the sport be­yond the ju­nior ranks.

“For me, the Mini Marathon was the high­light of my ju­nior ca­reer be­cause it is such a dif­fer­ent event. I never used to do any track un­til I was 17 and it was mainly cross-coun­try for me when I was younger and this was much dif­fer­ent to that!”

Wight­man re­calls be­ing slightly awestruck at his first Mini Marathon in 2008 hav­ing spent the ma­jor­ity of his ju­nior ca­reer rac­ing in Scot­land.

“We used to go down to Lon­don and not have a clue who any­one was,” Wight­man said. “We were a bit shel­tered. For us to come as far south as Lon­don and be part of an event like the Lon­don Marathon, it was awe­some. It was a proper oc­ca­sion and a great race.

“I can re­mem­ber the races be­ing typ­i­cal races for that age. Ev­ery­one went off so hard and I would have been with the masses. I can re­mem­ber the at­mos­phere be­ing spe­cial, go­ing past some of the drum­ming bands and then fin­ish­ing in front of the crowds on The Mall.

“I was lucky be­cause I could then stay on with my par­ents after my race and watch the marathon it­self as dad was an­nounc­ing.”

As most keen ath­let­ics fans will know, Jake’s fa­ther Ge­off – who is also his coach – is a com­men­ta­tor and race an­nouncer. He has been an­nounc­ing the start of the Lon­don Marathon for many years. Older ath­let­ics fans will also know that Ge­off wasn’t a bad ath­lete in his day ei­ther, with a sub 2:14 marathon to his name.

“I was quite lucky be­cause I got to fly down to Lon­don from Scot­land with dad,” said Wight­man. “The first year I stayed at the Royal Hol­loway with the rest of the teams and then the se­cond year I stayed at the race ho­tel which was fan­tas­tic.

“But the flip side was it takes a lit­tle of the ex­cite­ment away be­cause I didn’t go on the coach trip down with the oth­ers. But it prob­a­bly meant I raced bet­ter!”

Although Wight­man Snr never com­men­tated on his son at the Mini Marathon, it has now be­come a com­mon oc­cur­rence around the world, in­clud­ing at last sum­mer’s World Cham­pi­onships in Lon­don.

“I have grown up with my dad an­nounc­ing my races and it’s al­ways nice to run well when that is the case,” said Wight­man. “But I tend to phase it out now. I think when I get older it will be pretty cool to look back and think we shared some good mo­ments.”

If Wight­man’s am­bi­tions are any­thing to go by, there will be many years yet at the sharp end of world mid­dle-dis­tance run­ning be­fore he starts to look back to those good mo­ments.

And that might in­clude do­ing the full Vir­gin Money Lon­don Marathon at some stage.

“I will prob­a­bly do the marathon,” he said. “Both my par­ents have run it and I would def­i­nitely like to think I’ll give it a crack. I think ev­ery­one should.”

Jake Wight­man: be­lieves en­joy­ing the Mini Lon­don Marathon is more im­por­tant than a high fin­ish­ing po­si­tion

Medal con­tender: after com­ing sixth in the world in­door 1500m fi­nal, Jake Wight­man races in the Com­mon­wealth Games this week

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