Swiss racer Manuela Schär is determined to notch up her second marathon win in the space of one week when she lines up in Sunday’s (April 23) Virgin Money London Marathon in Great Britain.
Schär enjoyed an emphatic win in Boston, USA on Monday (17 April), leading from the start before going on to cross the line with a new course record.
However the 32-year-old, who won the world marathon title in 2013, has finished second in London on all three of the occasions she has raced there previously.
Now she is ready for first place.
“Boston helped a lot. It was just great to see what’s possible, because sometimes you just don’t know. I knew I was fit, but to see what really is possible, that helps a lot to be confident for the next race,” said Schär.
With US racer Tatyana McFadden – winner in London for the last four years - ruled out injured, this could be Schär’s best chance yet.
But in the women’s elite field of 10 starters there is another American who could spoil the Swiss racer’s plans.
Paralympic bronze medallist Amanda McGrory sprinted past Schär to take the win at February’s Tokyo marathon, and finished second behind Schär in Boston – over a hilly course which McGrory admitted does not play to her strengths.
London, which McGrory won in 2009 and 2011, suits her far more.
“The London course lends itself to a more even competition,” explained the American, who will be making her ninth appearance in the capital on Sunday.
“For Manuela one of her biggest advantages is her coasting speed downhills, and that is probably hands down my biggest weakness. That was a huge dividing factor in Boston and it won’t be a thing in London.
“As I’ve progressed in my career I’ve found that one of my biggest advantages comes from being able to hold a high speed on the flat, and London is definitely a course that lends itself to that.
“For a long time in my career I dreaded those tight finishes because I knew that I wasn’t going to have the hand speed and the power to come ahead at the finish. But I’ve been working on that a lot.”
Schär agreed: “This is totally a different course from Boston so it’s not going to be the same race again.
“It’s a new day, and I think (McGrory) knows the course way better than me because she’s been racing here for so many years. It’s my fourth marathon in London so I have to be careful.”
As the first race in the Abbott World Marathon Majors Series XI – the previous series, won by McFadden, ended in Boston – the chance to go straight to the top of the leaderboard is one that both athletes relish.
Schär, who finished second in WMM Series X said: “A good start is very important – not only for the series but also for the whole season.
“I want to do really well, especially now after Boston. Two in a row would be fantastic – and it’s London; that would be really special.”
McGrory, who finished third in WMM Series X, is equally determined.
“Coming off a strong season medalling in Rio, with a good start to 2017 winning in Tokyo and second place in Boston, that momentum I think is just going to carry over.
“It would be incredible to start the series at the top with those 25 points so I’ll definitely be fighting for that.”