BBC Sport – Olympics
Charlotte Purdue reached the World Cup qualifying time with her 10th place in the London Marathon
It has turned out to be a year with two very different halves for Charlotte Purdue.
It started with desperation, the marathon runner said she was “thrown under a bus” when she was removed from the UK roster for the newly arranged Tokyo Olympics despite ticking off the required qualifying time.
But 2021 ends at a high point, beating her personal best in the London Marathon by more than two minutes to cement her place as that third fastest British woman in history, after winning the Big Half in August and a third place in the Great North Run.
“Adversity is just the beginning,” wrote Purdue on Sunday on Instagram. The 30-year-old looks ahead – the past is in the past.
“I definitely feel like I can leave it behind,” she told BBC Sport on Monday – her first full day of rest in 2021. “If I hadn’t had London, it would have been a lot more difficult because I wouldn’t have had anything aiming, I would probably have felt a little lost if I didn’t know what was coming next.
“Once the Olympic door closed and I could focus on London it was like ‘I’m forgetting that’.
“I just had to get out there yesterday and have a good run, so I’m glad I did that. I’m happy with it.”
For Purdue, everything was aligned with Tokyo 2020. It was to be their first Olympic Games, and with the fastest qualifying time of the British women, they secured their place in the field.
But then came the Covid-19 pandemic and the postponement of the Games to 2021 – the moment from which it all “began spiritually”.
On the advice of a British Athletics (UKA) doctor, Purdue suspended the Olympic Trials in March due to an injury after completing the required time in the 2019 London Marathon.
But she was then not selected for Tokyo for medical reasons, and Purdue claimed the information quoted at the selection hearing was incorrect. UKA declined to comment.
“It was pretty stressful because of course I had planned for the last three years to go to the Olympics and all of my training and races that I had planned were geared towards qualifying, which I got in 2019,” she said . “I think I would have run well.”
Tokyo shouldn’t be, but it was a good result for Purdue on the streets of London when she finished 10th, her PB of two hours 23 minutes 26 seconds just 14 seconds off Mara Yamauchi’s second place on the UK all-time list . with Paula Radcliffe first.
Sunday’s run “couldn’t have gone better,” but Yamauchi’s 2: 23.12 is a goal Purdue is still aiming for, confident that it can shorten her personal best. Whether that will happen at the World Championships next year in Oregon, the Commonwealth Games or the Europeans remains to be seen, their schedule for 2022 is still open.
“Before I was two and a half minutes away, it was pretty daring to say that I am going for it because it was a big jump,” she said.
“But I felt like my training reflected that I could walk around at the time, so I think I’m even closer now …
“I think about my safety every day”
With winter and its dark nights, the treadmill will become an important part of Purdue’s training as it avoids running in the dark.
It’s something she has always avoided, but it’s a choice that has brought her back to the fore as the country reels in horror Sarah Everard was kidnapped and murdered.
“Personally, I’ve never felt safe running alone, definitely not at night. During the day, I always choose places that are busy and someone always knows where I am. Said Purdue.
“When I was a little kid, my father always drove me around in the car. I drove around the property where we lived. They drove, parked, I ran past and they drove the next part. My mom and dad always taught me that I should never really walk alone.
“I definitely wouldn’t feel safe walking alone at night. I would feel safe during the day, but someone always knows where I am and I think about it almost every day. I always have.
“I usually run in the same places, but I tell someone where I’m going. My friend knows all of the loops I run so I say I do this loop and he knows and he’ll call me when I should be done. “
She added, “If I’ve seen it on the news for the past few weeks, I definitely get more attention, especially when you get complacent and think, ‘Oh, I’ll be fine.’
“I probably wouldn’t think so now.”