THE capital’s ‘dark clouds’ have lifted for Shelly Woods as the Fylde flyer came within centimetres of a second London Marathon title yesterday.
The St Annes-based 24-year-old was pipped on the line by the American Amanda McGrory after a thrilling sprint finish to the women’s wheelchair race on The Mall.
McGrory, who had won the Paris Marathon the previous weekend, just held off the British no.1, though both women were timed at 1hr, 46mins, 31secs, a course record and over four minutes faster than Woods’ winning time four years ago.
“Amanda was just too strong but it was a great finish and a fast race,” said Woods, who was pleased to beat her London demons of recent years.
“I’ve have some bad luck here,” she explained, “and there’s been a bit of a dark cloud over London for me because I’ve had a few punctures (like the one which ruined her chances last year). So it was good to show what I can do against the best girls in the world.”
McGrory, Woods, Sandra Graf and Tatyana McFadden all turned into The Mall together
Woods said: “You always know it’s going to come down to a sprint on this course because it’s tough to get away and I was trying to save a bit for my finish.”
She also joked about an American conspiracy adding: “Amanda and Tatyana talk all the way round. They must have a gameplan.”
On a more serious note, Woods was delighted to return to form after a world championships in New Zealand in January which she described as “disappointing”, despite winning a bronze to add to her two Paralympic medals.
“I had flu just before and didn’t race to my potential,” she says. “I’m trying a few new things and have changed my coach. It’s just about trial and error.”
Kenya did the double in London as Emmanuel Mutai won in a new course record of 2:04.40, beating the previous best by 30 seconds with the fifth fastest marathon time in history.
Mary Keitany gave the absent Paula Radcliffe plenty to think about with a commanding victory in the women’s race in 1:19.19.
Britain’s David Weir won an unprecedented fifth London title in the men’s wheelchair race.