Claire Hallissey Named to Great Britain's Olympic Marathon SquadFrom the Virgin London Marathon and UK Athletics
April 22, 2012; updated 4/23/12
It's official (from UKA): On Monday, April 23, UK Athletics (UKA) and the British Olympic Association (BOA) named Claire Hallissey (self-coached and currently residing in Arlington, VA with her husband) and Dave Webb (coach: Bud Baldaro) as officially selected to compete for Team GB in the marathon event at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The pair join fellow marathon runners Scott Overall (Robert Chapman), Paula Radcliffe (Gary Lough) and Mara Yamauchi (Shige Yamauchi) who were selected as members of Team GB for London 2012 last December.
Britain's Claire Hallissey (photo by www.photorun.net at 2012 NYC Half) has done as much as possible to earn selection for this summer's London Olympics with an outstanding lifetime best of 2:27:44 at today's Virgin London Marathon. Halllissey finished 11th overall, and more importantly first Briton, to put herself in pole position for the one remaining place in Team GB.
With Paula Radcliffe and Mara Yamauchi already selected, the US-based Hallissey knew she had to beat Jo Pavey's time from last year of 2:28:24.
The 29-year-old had the company of fellow Brits Freya Murray and Louise Damen for the first 17 miles as the trio remain locked on sub-2:28 pace. Hallissey broke away with just under 15km remaining.
"I was trying to build a bit of a gap," she said, "not because I was feeling amazing but because when I was feeling good I felt I should try to push it on.
"I was just aware that Freya and Louise had a bit more natural speed than me and I wanted a gap going into the finish.
"I had more faith in breaking them at that point than over a speedy final few miles and after I got away I didn't look back. I didn't want to look behind and see them close to me or I thought I might crumble."
Hallissey has shown great promise over the longer distances in recent years and today's performance was not entirely unexpected.
She was top Briton in the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Birmingham in 2009 and a year later lowered her personal best over the distance to a credible 72:02 in Bristol, just prior to her 2:36:13 marathon debut over the full 26.2 miles in New York City.
In October 2011 she recorded 2:29:27 in Chicago which was good enough to rank her fourth in the UK last year, although almost a full minute slower than Pavey.
"I took the same approach for this as I did before Chicago Marathon," said Hallissey. "I went to Boulder to train at altitude and I didn't do a lot of really speedy stuff, but I did replicate a lot of my pre-Chicago sessions and I was running quicker so I took confidence from that.
"The New York half marathon was slower than I wanted in 72:58, but I took confidence from my 10-miler in Washington because it was exactly the time I wanted to run.
"I'm not trying to think too much about the Olympics now as I don't think I could cope with the disappointment if I didn't get picked, but I know I've done everything I can."
Murray also did everything that was asked of her as she clocked 2:28:10 on her debut to finish inside Pavey's benchmark time in 13th place. It was a great performance, just not quite as great as Hallissey.
"The first couple of miles just flew by," said Murray, who is coached by British marathon record holder Steve Jones. "We were more or less together right through to 17 miles, but even at that point Claire wasn't that far ahead. There was just a small gap but we couldn't close it.
"With 10km to go something just went off in my head; maybe it's because that's a distance I'm familiar with, but it didn't seem too bad.
"From there I just picked it up and I really thought I could catch Claire. I could see her just ahead and it didn't seem that far; I even thought I was closing. Over the last few miles there was just so much noise it was unbelievable. The whole way people were supporting me and shouting my name - it was amazing.
"I do feel a little disappointed now though. I'm pleased but frustrated. I'm really pleased for Claire but we were all going for one Olympic spot and there was always going to be someone disappointed. I learned a lot today."
Claire's London splits: 17:12 (5K), 34:51 (17:39/10K), 52:19 (17:28/15K), 1:09:53 (17:34/20K), 1:13:39 (half), 1:27:04 (17:11/25K), 1:44:31 (17:27/30K), 2:02:08 (17:37/35K), 2:19:59 (17:51/40K), 2:27:44.
In a post-race interview (View 3-minute Video), Claire said that sub-2:28 was her target going into the race.