RICHIE Gardiner has described his preparations for Sunday’s Virgin London Marathon as a “nightmare” following an asthma attack at home last month.
The 36-year-old Merthyr police sergeant from Aberdare is almost certain to travel to London for the race but, even if he does start, hasn’t dismissed the possibility of pulling out during the event.
The setback comes with Gardiner desperately trying to attain the qualifying times for this year’s European Championships and Commonwealth Games.
If he doesn’t run this weekend or pulls out before halfway on the 26.2-mile course, Gardiner will then turn his attention to the marathons in either Edinburgh or Copenhagen, both in May.
For now, Gardiner is still hopeful of running in London, where his best finish is 13th.
To qualify for the Europeans in Barcelona he must dip under 2hr 18min while the Commonwealth mark is 2hr 19.40min.
But after suffering an asthma attack while lying in bed one night, the medication he was prescribed has resulted in some unwanted side effects, which have hampered his training.
“I haven’t had the best preparation, in fact it’s been a nightmare,” he said. “I’m playing a waiting game at the moment.
“I haven’t given up. I’m still waiting for the side effects to go out of my system but I’m 80% sure of going to London.
“I can do a 10-mile run without any problems but when I go at full speed, which you need to when you compete at a high level, it has a detrimental effect on my body.
“I’ve done the training and I’m ready to go. My coach is concerned about my confidence which has been knocked in the last few weeks.
“But if I get to London and I start running and feel good the confidence will come back.”
With a personal best well inside the qualifying time for Delhi and 42 seconds outside that for Barcelona, this year’s London race would have given the Welsh champion an ideal opportunity to achieve his dream of competing for Great Britain at a major championships.
This year could be one of his last big chances of accomplishing that goal.
“I always said I would go up until the 2012 Olympics then retire,” he added.
“I’ve run for Great Britain before but never at a major championships. If I can get to the Commonwealth Games I think I can make the top 10, maybe top five. It’s taken me a good three months to get ready for London and I’ve been running 133 miles a week since January.
“I’ve got a full-time job and a family so it’s hard anyway and I don’t want all that preparation to go to waste.
“By running and doing badly I will have wasted three months of my life. If I do run but can see I’m losing time and it’s not going to plan at halfway then I will have to pull out.
“I don’t want it to sound bad but I’m not running to get a finisher’s medal and if I can’t get through it on Sunday I will have to live to fight another day.
“It sounds a bit of a cop out but if I’m not right then I’ll have to step aside. If I keep going and have a bad finish the damage will have been done and I won’t be able to recover in time for Edinburgh or Copenhagen.
“Marathon running is like boxing. In boxing you train for months in the build up to a fight but you can’t get back in the ring straight after.
“If there is any doubt I will have to toe the line. I won’t make any rash decisions.”
On the possibility the event could be hit by the grounding of flights due to the volcanic ash from Iceland, he added; “Whether the top runners are there or not has no affect on me.
“If I finish fifth and didn’t qualify but came 20th and did I would definitely take the second option.”