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Having already gained selection for the Olympic marathon on the streets of London this summer, Scott Overall is showing encouraging form just four months out from his Games debut, writes Nicola Bamford.
The 29-year-old was named on Team GB’s squad for the 26.2-mile event back in December, courtesy of his promising 2:10.55 debut in Berlin last autumn and validated his qualification recently by taking almost two-minutes off his half-marathon best.
Guided by US-based Robert Chapman, Overall clocked a swift 61:25 in New York earlier this month to leap to ninth on the British all-time list for the distance, showing positive signs ahead of his Olympic test in August:
“New York was a very good race for me - I went there with a target in mind and that is what I achieved,” explained Overall.
“I wanted to run between sixty-one and sixty-two minutes as that is the sort of half-marathon time I would need to be looking at running a faster marathon.”
Having only begun marathon training a mere ten months ago, the Londoner used his frustrations in track racing to propel him to long distance-running success by recording the quickest marathon time by a British man for four years.
A former training partner to world 5,000m champion Mo Farah in their teenage years, Overall’s recent change in direction in the sport has also seen him register a swift 28:57 10km in the Netherlands and victory in the Silverstone half-marathon last month.
“I was based in the UK for the whole winter like I did before Berlin,” he revealed.
“The first part of 2012 was just to keep my fitness up and have a solid run at the half-marathon without going into really hard marathon training.”
Set to enjoy a month-long spell of high-altitude training in Arizona to hone his marathon preparations, Overall will first tackle the London Marathon one month from now.
Unusually, however, the 2009 UK 5,000m champion will participate in pace-making duties for his fellow countrymen, eager to aid their quest to join him on the Olympic team:
“I will be pacing to help the British guys run the qualifying time - of two hours, twelve minutes - and I will help pace them with two other pace-makers through to about twenty miles and then after that they are on their own!” Overall explained.
“Hopefully there will be at least one other British representative on the marathon start-line on the 12th of August.”
Sitting in twenty-fourth position on the national all-time list, the Blackheath and Bromley AC runner continued:
“The marathon in the UK on the men's side isn't as strong as it could be and I'm not really sure of the reason for this.
“A lot of men - and women - run a marathon coming from a track background and therefore they are generally a lot older.
“I think many athletes really want to compete on the track and with the home Olympics they have decided to go that route, rather than the roads so I think after the Olympics you will start to see many more guys breaking 2hrs 12.”
Keen to persevere with his one-man British breakthrough for the distance, Overall has his long-term sights on the twenty-five-year-old 2:07.13 national record, yet for the 2012 season, he will be content on a top-ten placing in the Olympic event:
“My goal for the Olympics is obviously to finish as high as possible - with it being a championship race anything can happen,” he revealed.
“There are no pacemakers and it won’t be a fast course like the big city marathons - the Olympics is all about where you finish - no one remembers what time the marathon was won in, just who won it.”