Moray Road Runners athlete Kenny Wilson finishes as first mass runner and 20th overall in Virgin Money London Marathon debut
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KENNY Wilson's first London Marathon didn't go according to plan, but he still beat some of the elite to run his fastest 26 miles yet.
The Moray Road Runners was the first runner in the mass group to finish on Sunday, overtaking some of the elite pack to come in an impressive 20th overall.
Wilson (31) admitted he strayed from coaches George and Carol Sim's tactics on the race and set a quicker pace than planned for 17 miles, before the cramps set in to make the final third of the race a tough experience.
But he was proud to set a new marathon personal best of two hours, 18 minutes and 42 seconds and lead the mass group home.
"I ran it in a completely different way, it was a lot harder doing it the way I did it but I got a PB in the end so I’m happy with that," he said.
"It was the complete opposite of how my coaches and I had planned it. I kind of just went with what I thought was best on the day, once we got going and I still think it was the right call.
"By the sounds of it, in the race behind me, the groups broke up so there were a few guys who maybe didn’t break the sub 2:20 that a lot of us were targeting.
"So I made it hard for myself but I think it was the right call to go with the elite guys and try to hang on."
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The crowds were back in the capital and the race format returned to normal, with Scottish international Wilson not selected among the 25 elite male athletes starting together, 20 metres ahead of the mass group which included Wilson.
"Just as the race went off I was kind of in a group in the first mile, myself and a guy I got speaking to in the warm up," he revealed.
"We decided to make the jump to join one of the elite groups that was ten seconds up the road.
"Over miles two to four we slowly worked back to this elite group, they had a pace maker on the front so we used that for as long as we could."
Before the race, Wilson planned to run 5:15 miles but in his pursuit of the elite he was averaging ten seconds quicker per mile than he intended, even breaking the five-minute barrier for one mile.
"I think I was on for a 2:15 until mile 17, and then the last eight miles there were leg cramps and it was a case of just trying to get it home.
"The pace dropped and that’s maybe where the two or three minutes went, just in the last nine miles."
The race was headed by a group of six Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes who all finished under 2:08, with Ethiopia's Sisay Lemma winning in 2:04:01.
Wilson overtook five elite runners to finish in 20th with a time that was ten seconds faster than his previous PB set in Wrexham in April.
He said the crowds created a great atmosphere on the day but he had to keep his focus rather than be distracted by the occasion.
"The crowds are back and it was great to be a part of having that atmosphere," he said.
"There were three or four points where it was really loud so it was pretty exciting.
"You almost have to block it out at the same time, with the distance you have to conserve as much energy as possible so it's a mixture of enjoying it and doing the best you can because you are there to do a job.
"The main aim for me was to consolidate the Wrexham’s marathon. My coaches are confident that I can go quicker, we think I am in better shape than 2.18 if I can get it all bang on on the day and get my pacing right."
Wilson is one of a number of athletes selected as part of a Scottish Athletics marathon project, which is geared to sending three male and three female runners to next year's Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
While the Speyside-based distillery worker is making great progress in his running after just three competitive marathons, he says making the Scotland team for the Commonwealths is a "tough ask".
"It's definitely a long shot but I’ll just try to put the times in there and hopefully if anything ever opens up, its all about trying to put yourself in the best position possible for any chances.
"We will see what happens. We are all just trying to improve ourselves and push each other along and I’m sure it will be a strong squad whoever gets picked.
"I’ll chip away and see what we can do."
Wilson said he was inundated with messages of support from back home in Moray, before and after the race.
"The marathon is something everyone seems to be interested in and I am really lucky with the support I get from Moray.
"I always get loads of good luck messages and I’ve had tons since the race and I am still working through them all.
"It is really good and hopefully it helps to motivate the other runners in Moray and maybe people to take up running.
"I am always really grateful for all the support."
Wilson will take a few weeks off from long distance running to allow his legs to recover, but still plans to be in competitive action to help out his club.
For the North District cross country relays take place in Nairn this weekend, and Wilson has volunteered to help out his Moray Road Runners team by doing a two-mile leg.