The race beside the River Main has proved a successful hunting ground for British runners in recent years, and the England Team of Dani Nimmock (City of Norwich, Coach: Pauline Ash), Aaron Scott (Lincoln Wellington / Nene Valley, Coach: Nick Anderson), Matt Sharp (Team Spy, Coach: Geoff Watkin) and Steven Bayton (Hallamshire / Sheffield Uni, Coach: Phil Nichol) are keen to exploit Frankfurt’s reputation on Sunday as a fast course with favourable weather conditions.
The precedents are highly encouraging: a year ago Dewi Griffiths excelled himself on his marathon debut to run 2:09:46 for fifth place, while Callum Hawkins also made his debut here in 2012 with 2:12:17 before going on to finish ninth in the 2016 Olympics and fourth in the London World Championships last year. There have also been encouraging performances from the women with Charlotte Purdue taking fifth in Frankfurt in 2016 in 2:30:04.
Dani Nimmock already knows the Frankfurt course well since she ran what was then a personal best of 2:48:52 here two years ago. Hers has been an impressive rise in chopping 20 minutes off her best since Stockholm in 2016 to win the Manchester title in 2:38:28 on 8 April this year. Working a full-time job as Head of Exhibitions at London Marathon, it’s all systems go for the City of Norwich athlete: “I can’t wait to get just get stuck in to the race now on what is a flat and fast course with IAAF Gold Label status. I'm proud to be wearing the England vest with my teammates too and grateful for the opportunity from England Athletics, and for the coaches helping us to have a great time here with elite treatment.”
Her comments are also a key to why the foursome will be on the start line in Frankfurt at 10am on Sunday. Endurance coach and team leader Tom Craggs says the venue and position on the marathon calendar are strong factors in their choice: “We wanted our runners to have a race with elite standard and also good strength in depth, enabling athletes to progress in the search for qualifying times for major championships. We also know the race has good logistics, is easy for travel, well organised and has usually favourable weather. Plus British athletes have run well here.”
Aaron Scott from Peterborough made his marathon debut in Frankfurt in 2013, running 2:22:34. He’d prefer to forget his 2016 experience, when illness struck on the morning of the race and he dropped out after halfway. But there have been plenty of encouraging times, including his best of 2:17:24 in London last year. In London this April he failed to finish but looks forward to Sunday: “Everything has been going very well, the best for a long while. I ran the Peterborough Half Marathon in 66:53, that was more of a training run, on 14 October.”
Scott’s teammates Matt Sharp and Steven Bayton have enjoyed success elsewhere on the German roads. Sharp has been concentrating on road running for the past year or so after a triathlon career which brought him the U23 World title in 2011. From a marathon debut of 2:17:46 in London in 2017, he improved to 2:16:02 in Berlin that September.
Steven Bayton (pictured top), studying for a doctorate in Civil Engineering at the University of Sheffield, also set his current best of 2:19:41 in that same Berlin Marathon of 2017. Steve made his England senior debut at the 2016 Toronto Waterfront Marathon, and has previously represented England as a junior in fell running.