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When Brian Alldis was first introduced to 4-time wheelchair London Marathon winner David Holding as a youngster at his first track competition, he was in awe - meeting such a celebrity of the racing world. So, competing against and actually pushing Holding in his first London Marathon in 2005 was quite a thrill for Alldis.
"It's really weird," Alldis said. "When I was drafting Dave Holding, I wasn't thinking, 'I am racing with Dave Holding.'"
Brian was only thinking of how much of the race he had left - that's what he focuses on during the long races. And evidently, he didn't have much of the race left at that point because he soon finished with a personal best of 1 hour and 50 minutes - cutting 40 minutes off his last marathon time and earning a 13th place finish.
"Last year was really my biggest improvement," Alldis said. "My first year of being in the adult races."
And while the 19-year-old from Bury St. Edmunds is an adult racing rookie, Alldis is quite well known in the juvey arena. In a wheelchair since birth, due to his Spina Bifida, Alldis started training and racing at the age of 12.
With the help of coach, Tanni Grey Thompson, and support from his parents and siblings, Alldis entered his first of many Mini-Marathons - he won in 2001 and 2004 - and hasn't looked back since.
"I think it's the traveling and the competition," Alldis said. "I like going abroad and seeing all the different places. I also like the nerves - it gives me an extra boost."
Looking back on his many accomplishments, he noted a few highlights: winning the 2005 Cardiff Marathon in and coming in 5th at the Great North Run, also last year. And I would add earning his first British vest in the 2005 European Championships in Finland, which he will be attending again later this year.
Alldis competes in races throughout the entire year, so his training remains continuous, with daily road workouts in his chair, and additional workouts at the gym and in the pool. His chair was given to him by his sponsor - the Get Kids Going charity - of which he says he couldn't compete without.
On April 23rd, Alldis will strap himself into his Draft, get in a quick warm-up and get ready to beat last year's performance.
"Just under an hour and 50 minutes would be amazing for me this year," Alldis said. And with his impressive performance in the last marathon, who knows how he'll place and whom he'll push.
After he races the 26.2 miles around London, Alldis heads off to the national championships and continues training for qualifying for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.