Lining up with the world’s elite for the London Marathon will be Andrew Lemoncello, who may be Britain’s first great male marathon runner for some time. The Scottish athlete spoke to Jon Bruford.
Born: October 12, 1982, Tokyo
Residence: Flagstaff, Arizona
Marathon debut: London, 2010: 8th in 2:13:40
2008 Olympic Games (Beijing), 3,000-metre Steeplechase, 9th in 1st round;
2010 Great North Run (half marathon), 9th in 63:48 (leading British male)
It’s been quite a while since Britain could boast a truly world-class male marathon runner, one able to compete with the very best. A runner capable not just of winning the ‘second tier’ race after the Kenyans and Ethiopians have already showered, but one capable of pushing even the very best right to the line. Andrew Lemoncello could be that athlete, having pushed up to marathon from middle distance and steeplechase running.
On his competitive marathon debut in 2010, Lemoncello recorded a superb eighth-place finish in London, and he was the first European to cross the line, in 2:13.40 –but the 28-year-old was left dissatisfied after what most would agree was a great debut. He told ActivInstinct: “London was disappointing at the time, because I knew how fit I was and I had to run the last 16 miles on my own. That’s very, very tough. I learned a lot from it, and I know I never want to feel like that again when I crossed the line – that there was so much more I could have done. I’ll use that to my advantage though, in future.”
Lemoncello is a proud Scotsman, although his surname comes from his Italian grandfather, while his father is American and his mother Scottish. Despite holding a dual US-UK passport, Lemoncello says the Scottish marathon record – 2:09 – is next on his list.
“I definitely want to get the Scottish record but I think I can run a lot faster than that,” he says. “I don’t set any limits on how fast I can run; when I was living in Britain I was thrilled to break 30 minutes for the 10k. Then I moved to the US and ran 70 seconds quicker the next year. I didn’t believe I could do that, but I did. I always set high targets for myself. At Fukuoka I set out and did the first half in 64:30, feeling great and running 2:09 pace, but then I got a stitch. But now I know I can do that pace, I need to push on from there. I’d love to get down to around 2:07, but first comes that Scottish record, which would be great progress.”
Of course, as a top athlete – and sponsored by Mizuno – Lemoncello has a strict regime, channelling as much effort into his recovery as he does into his training twice a day, which he does at an altitude of 7,000 feet, in Flagstaff, Arizona.
“I eat a healthy diet, take ice baths regularly, Epsom Salt baths, get massages, nap every day, sleep well at night, take supplements for all the nutrients I need, use a foam roller to help relax my legs after a workout – it’s all the little things that count.”
So is Lemoncello ready to step up to the standard of the seemingly unbeatable North African runners?
“I don’t compare myself to the North African runners,” responds Lemoncello. “It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from; just get on the start line and do your best to try and win.”