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Alistair Brownlee on his 10,000m debut

by John Levison
Monday 29th April 2013

As we reported earlier today on Tri247.com, Great Britain's London 2012 Olympic Triathlon Champion Alistair Brownlee early this morning (UK time) ran a 28:32.48 for 10,000m on the track in the U.S. while competing at the Payton Jordan Invitational meeting at Stanford University.


Photo: Alistair and Jonny Brownlee

Competing in the 'Section 2' ('B' heat), of this top class invitational event, Alistair took second place to Jose Antonio Uribe Marin (MEX) who ran 28:30.8. Full results HERE, along with the results from the 'A' race HERE, which was won in a swift 27:37.55 by Ben St Lawrence. Great Britain's Chris Thompson recorded 27:40.81 for fourth place, which is within a second of the World Championship qualifying standard for Moscow 2013.


With the race not starting until late evening, I was fortunate enough to get to speak to Alistair post-race, where the 'glamour' (?!) of track running was evidenced by his search for some post-race food when everything had seemingly 'shut up shop'. Just over an hour after the race, was he feeling recovered?

"...not really... it's really late here and I'm trying to find some food and nothing is open!" Food was thankfully found as Alistair was waiting for his pizza to be cooked as we chatted....at least we have something in common, as my last 'race' featured a post-race pizza too. I ran a bit quicker than 28:32 in my race - it was a 5km though....

There has been lots of discussion in the triathlon world after Alistair expressed interest in potentially seeking qualification for the England team for the Commonwealth Games in 2014, alongside his primary triathlon events in Glasgow. That 'chat' was further expanded to the wider running community when the - very tough - qualifying standards for the Games were announced. Given all of that, did Alistair have particular expectations or goals in mind ahead of this race?

"I was really pretty open-minded really on what to expect. I knew I didn't want to go out too fast and blow, I wanted to keep the pace pretty consistent and have a solid race that way and to try and be part of the race."

How about the difference in feeling between running 10k after hard 1.5km swim and 40km bike, versus the pure running. Was it a big difference?

"It is different; with triathlon of course you are tired from the start - I actually found the first half, up to around 5km relatively comfortable. The effort and the pain builds slowly and gradually creeps up on you, so by 7km it was really starting to hurt - and once you are in the final 500/600m then it really does start to hurt, a world of pain." Alistair commented further on Twitter shortly after the race "learnt that 68s felt easy at 3k and 69's felt hard at 8k. Can't wait for another go".

Having gone through the halfway mark in around 14:14 and with a finish time of 28:32, the pace appeared too be pretty consistent through the race - was that the case?

"Yes, the pace was pretty level overall, but with a drop off in the second half and a fast finish to bring it back. I think around the 6/7km mark we slowed quite a bit, but then finished with a fast last final kilometre"

Having raced (and won) the ITU World Triathlon Series event in San Diego just a week previously, did Alistair think that had any impact on his race - was he recovered from that effort?

"I felt pretty good today. I've had a pretty easy week training wise, recovering from San Diego. Fully recovered or not? I don't know, its difficult to say, but I felt good".

Triathlon remains Alistair's number one priority, but will he be including any additional track races into his schedule during the year?

"I would certainly like too. It's really about what fits in to the overall season schedule - getting the right race, that fits with the triathlons and the right fields to get the correct pace and competition is the key. Today was good, fitting in the week after San Diego. I don't think I could do a 10,000m track race the week or two before a major triathlon for example. I'd like to do another one if it fits, but most of the suitable races are probably in the U.S., relatively early season like this one. We'll see how the schedules work out later in the year."

How did the time stack up with pre-race thoughts and expectations - as expected, better?

"I would say that I am pleasantly surprised with the time. The conditions were almost perfect too which helps, so overall I'm really happy."

The obvious question then - do you think you can go faster...and if so, by how much?

"That's a difficult one. I would like to think that I can go faster. How much... maybe 20 / 30 seconds faster, but its really hard to put a number on it."

You think a sub 28 minutes is a realistic target?

"I think as a lifetime goal then yes, I'd be really happy if I could run under 28 minutes. I think that would be a good target and I'd like to ."

Alistair ran in the the 'B' event 10,000m of the meeting and was competitive throughout the race, running a pretty consistent pace to end up at the 28:32 time. Did he think that running in the 'B' race actually worked to his favour?

"Oh definitely, yes. If I had been in heat #1 then I think I would likely have spent a lot of time off of the back of the field running on my own. How my race panned out worked really well for me, and it was great to be competing in it."

How did it feel to be leading the race with 400m to go?

"Well, I knew I was never going to win over a 200m final sprint so I just went hard with a lap to go too see what I could do. That's really much like we do in training; we regularly race the last lap of a session, so in that sense it was familiar - if painful..."

The next race of the World Triathlon Series is in Yokohama, Japan. Having won last week in San Diego and raced today over 10,000m, will you be racing there or will you skip that round of the series?

"No, I'm going to miss Yokohama and get ready for Madrid and Kitzbühel."

Kitzbühel this year is very different - a shorter race than the usual 1.5k / 40k / 10k, with an all uphill bike course - having said previously that your favourite course would be a hard swim followed by a "whacking great hill straight out of transition to start the bike" - are you looking forward to that one?

"Absolutely, I'm really looking forward to that race - I think it is a great thing for the World Series to have an event like that, I'm really looking forward to it."


So, where does that leave Alistair? Triathlon wise, he is already clearly the world number one - his performance in San Diego last week seen by many as one his most dominant ever. His focus on the Madrid World Series race (his favourite course, winning in 2009/10/11) is ominous, while those who think that the format change for Kitzbühel will open the doors to their chances might want to think again given the relish Alistair has for that new race.

Running wise - well, that is certainly a superb debut over 10,000m on the track and Alistair believes there is more to come. Assuming they would accept their places if offered - the English Commonwealth Games team might well already have the names of Mo Farah and Chris Thompson pencilled in, leaving one place available. 28:32.48 is some way (in running terms), from the 28:10 'B standard', but it is an impressive start - and perhaps more interestingly to me is the belief from Alistair that "maybe 20 / 30 seconds faster" is possible. Earlier this year I said openly that I felt that 28:10 mark would be beyond him. 28:32 isn’t 28:10… but it is significantly closer than I expected, especially with a World Series Triathlon raced a week previously and that Alistair says he isn’t yet in the same sort of fitness he was prior to the Olympic Games last year. Time will tell whether that proves to be true or not, but I hope I'm proved very wrong on that forecast!

You can watch Alistair's race here courtesy of www.flotrack.org.

Watch more video of flodumby on flotrack.org


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