Radcliffe backing Hawkins for successful marathon transition

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World Record holder Paula Radcliffe believes Scotland’s Callum Hawkins can make a successful leap to the marathon in time for the Olympics in Rio next year.

The Scotland 10,000m international and GB cross country runner finished second Brit behind Mo Farah in the Great North Run last weekend in only his second outing at the half marathon distance.

Hawkins clocked 63.35 to immediately move into second place on the British men’s rankings for the half marathon for 2015 behind Farah and the Scot, who ran the 10,000m on the Hampden track at the Commonwealth Games, is lined up for a marathon debut in Germany next month.

Radcliffe witnessed a Great Scottish Run half marathon championship victory for Callum in Glasgow last autumn and now feels the 23-year-old can make the transition – with elder brother Derek also targeting the marathon in Rio.

Callum will race on Frankfurt on October 24 while GB international Susan Partridge, who was 10th in the World Champs marathon in 2013, races in Chicago a fortnight earlier as the 35-year-old stakes a claim for a first Olympic appearance.

‘Callum Hawkins was impressive in the Great Scottish Run last year,’ said Radcliffe.

‘That 63-minute run was a great debut for the distance. My advice on the marathon is: if it feels right for you and you are ready for it then go for it. If you feel you want then you should do it. It is a tough event, obviously. It is tough to prepare for but some people are more suited to it than others.

‘If you are mentally ready and prepared to invest in it then it can be perfect. Someone like Callum has huge potential I think for that event. If he is wanting to do one now then great.

‘Derek Hawkins has done well in the past, too. There could be two Scottish brothers there for GB in the same event. That is quite a prospect for them and for everyone else!

‘It would be pretty special. I’m not sure if it has happened before. I can’t think of siblings in the same event at the same champs for GB.’

Callum warmed up for the Great North with a course record in the Paisley 10k while Radcliffe would love to see Leeds-based Partridge, sixth at the Commonwealth Games, make Rio. Partridge ran 2.30.46 at the London Marathon in 2013 and needs inside 2.31 for Rio qualification, although no British woman has achieved that this year.

‘It would be nice if Susan could make the Olympics,’ said Paula, in an interview with PB magazine, which is issued quarterly to 11,000 scottishathletics members.

‘She is well capable of making the qualifying standard and Chicago is a good course to try and achieve that. I think it will suit her and the way she runs. I think the timing could be right for her, as well. She’s been working on the preparation on the shorter distances.

‘I don’t think Rio would be the end of her career by any means but I can see how it would be a highlight for her after being at the Worlds and the Commonwealths in Glasgow. She might feel a sense of completing the set and competing for GB at an Olympics would mean an awful lot to her I am sure.’

Olympian Freya Ross is also finding her fitness after the injuries which cost her a Commonwealth Games place while Euro U23 10,000m silver medallist and Euro Cross U23 champion, Rhona Auckland, is starting her cross country season in America after moving to New Mexico University.

‘Freya Ross is a very capable athlete,’ added Radcliffe.

‘She has a lot of talent and proved that at London 2012. It is just about getting over some fitness hurdles and if she is able to peak at the right time.

‘Rhona Auckland won the U23 Euro Cross and she followed that up if you like with such a strong showing in China at the World Cross. She is a talented young athlete for sure and she has a lot of potential. Further down the line, might she look at the marathon?

‘Over 10k and 10,000m on the track, she has proved she is a good athletes. She is a cross country exponent and again it shows the value of that discipline.
‘In the winter, particularly, there is no better way for endurance athletes to work on the stamina they need. It is fun, as well!’

*Three Scots compete for GB at the World Mountain Running Champs in north Wales this weekend. Robbie Simpson and Andy Douglas will lead the British senior men’s challenge after finishing first and second on the trial over the same course at Betws-y-Coed, while Jacob Adkin won the Junior Men’s trial to also gain selection.
At the same event, 16 young Scottish hill runners compete in the Junior Home International against England, Wales and Ireland.