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First Time Elite

SOAR caught up with GB Athlete Rachel Hodgkinson, last seen running London in a Rainbow Vest and Marathon Speed Shorts. Having taken over an hour off the time of her debut London run in 2017, Rachel’s 2023 PB of 2h34 secured her a first ever spot on the Elite Women’s Start.

Words: Rachel Hodgkinson & Rebecca Taylor

What first got you into running and why do you love to run?

I enjoy the freedom running gives me and I am grateful to be able to run. I battled a lot of illness during my teens, so I wasn't able to do sport. I spent 7 years in and out of hospitals but eventually when I regained my health aged 20, I returned to something that I loved. It's taken me around the world, and I've been able to step to up represent my country and get a team gold for GB in a World Championships. It makes me happy because I get to do this, waited a long time for it and worked hard to make it happen.

What do you do when you’re not running?

I currently work full time as a health and fitness coach encouraging and equipping others to lead a happy, healthy life. I've been able to chase after my goals and I want to help as people as possible to achieve theirs.

How did you prepare for London?

I started my spring training mid-December 18 weeks out. I am self-coached but follow a plan from 'Advanced Marathoning' by Pfitzinger & Douglas. Unfortunately, I battled a few injuries and illness for the first 6 weeks, missed a tune up race and I didn't begin any quality training until end of January. I worked hard from there, running 2 half marathons at marathon pace (5.43/mile for a 2h30 goal) in February and March. I wrapped up my last long run at the end of March with 22 miles and tapered down for 3 weeks in April.

What does the London Marathon Elite Start mean to you?

When I first began running, I never would have believed I'd be representing the British Women in a world class field on the Elite Start in London. But some dreams really do come true. To have the opportunity to race amongst the best female marathoners in the world was such an honour. When I look back on my running career, I will remember the first time I stepped up to the Elite Start, the same race a new Women Only World Record was made. I got to be part of that.

What do you like about running in SOAR kit?

The SOAR kit is the best technical gear I've ever worn. The fit is perfect, it's lightweight and I don't even notice I'm wearing it. There's no risk of chafe or discomfort. One less thing to worry about on race day. I also love the colourful rainbow vest which really brightens up the whole experience!

What’s next for you?

I am going to be marathon training over the Summer to prepare for the second sub 2h30 attempt in September at Berlin. I'll also do some tune up races including some half marathons, 10ks and perhaps the odd 5k for tempo sessions. Most importantly, I’m going to enjoy a summer of running.

Instagram: @racheljoyfitness