It has turned out to be a year with two very different halves for Charlotte Purdue.
It started with despair, the marathon runner said she was “thrown under a bus” when she was left out of Britain’s squad for the rearranged Olympics in Tokyo, despite having ticked off the required qualifying time.
But 2021 ends at a climax, smashing her personal best by more than two minutes at the London Marathon to cement her place as third fastest British woman in history, after victory in the big half in August and a third place at the Great North Run.
“Adversity is only the beginning,” Purdue wrote on Instagram Sunday. The 30-year-old rejoices — the past is in the past.
“I definitely feel like I can put it behind me,” she told BBC Sport on Monday – her first full day of rest in 2021. “If I did not have London, it would have been much harder because I had nothing to aim for. after, I would probably have felt a little lost without knowing what was next.
“As soon as the Olympic door closed and I could focus on London, it was like ‘I forget that now’.
“Yesterday I just had to go out there and have a good race, so I’m glad I was able to. I feel happy about that.”
Everything for Purdue had been aimed at Tokyo 2020. It was to be her first Olympics, and with the British women’s fastest qualifying time, her place seemed to be secured.
But then came the Covid -19 pandemic and the postponement of the Games to 2021 – the moment from which everything “began to sprout”.
On the advice of a doctor in the UK Athletics (UKA), Purdue sat in March ‘Olympic trials due to an injury, and had already achieved the required time at the London Marathon in 2019.
But she was then not selected for Tokyo for medical reasons, with Purdue claiming that information quoted at the selection hearing was false. UKA declined to comment.
“It was pretty stressful because I had obviously been planning to run at the Olympics for the last three years and all my training and all the races I was planning had been aimed at getting qualifications, which I had time for in 2019,” she said. “I think I would have run well.”
Tokyo should not be, but it was a good result for Purdue on the streets of London when she finished 10th, her PB in two hours 23 minutes 26 seconds just 14 seconds short of Mara Yamauchi’s second on the British all-time list, with Paula Radcliffe first.
Sunday’s race “could not have gone better”, but Yamauchi’s 2: 23.12 is a goal Purdue is still aiming for, sure she can shave further time from her best. Whether that happens at next year’s World Cups in Oregon, the Commonwealth Games or the Europeans remains to be seen with her 2022 schedule still to be decided.
“Before I was two and a half minutes away, it was pretty cool to say I went for it, because it was a big leap,” she said.
“But I felt like my workout reflected that I could run around at that point, so I think now to be even closer … if I say now that I’m going for it, it’s not that cool.
‘I think about my safety every day’
As winter and its dark nights approach, the treadmill will become a more prominent feature of Purdue’s training as she avoids going out and running in the dark.
It’s something she’s always avoided, but it’s a decision that has once again moved at the head of her mind as the country rolls from the awful abduction and murder of Sarah Everard.
“Personally, I have never felt comfortable running alone, certainly not at night. During the day I always choose places that are quite busy and someone always knows where I am. I would never run alone at night and I have never, “Purdue said.
“When I was a little boy, my father used to drive around with me. I ran a loop around the property where we lived. They used to drive, park, I would run past, and they would drive the next My mother and dad has always instilled in me that I should never really run alone.
“I certainly would not feel comfortable running alone at night. In the daytime I would feel safe, but someone always knows where I am and that is something I always think about pretty much every day. I always have. had.
“I usually run the same places, but I want to tell someone where I’m going. My boyfriend knows all the loops I run, so I say I do this loop, and he knows, and he’s calling me, when I have to finish. “
She added: “Seeing it in the news in recent weeks definitely brings it more to me, especially when you might be complacent and think ‘oh, I’m fine’.
“I probably would not believe it now.”