The Hare and Hounds runner tells Nick Butler about the World Championships, training and being in Boston last weekend
After helping the Cambridge Blues to victory at Varsity and 4th university at the BUCS Cross Country Championships, Pembroke Fresher Lewis had the race of his life at the UK Inter-counties Cross Country Championships in Birmingham to finish 4th and qualify for the Great Britain Under 20 team for last month’s World Championships in Poland. After finishing a solid 77th behind the world’s best teenagers, Lewis answers TCS Sport’s questions about the race, his subsequent tour to America with a combined Oxbridge Athletics squad, and more…
How pleased were you to earn your first GB vest?
I was delighted! International representation is the sort of thing you’re never quite sure you’ll manage to achieve in a sport. Even if you feel capable of it, injuries, illness, work and social pressures often conspire against you. Thankfully, I managed to take advantage of a period of good training and good health, bringing everything together just in time for the trial race.
How did the race pan out?
The race was absolutely brutal: the start felt like a sprint, and the pace never really let up. Although I didn’t expect to be at the front of the field – the winner of my race ran in Mo Farah’s 5000m Olympic final – I was disappointed not to make the top 50. Still, it was an invaluable opportunity to see first-hand just how good the best athletes in the world actually are, and great motivation for the future.
Was it very different from running at Cambridge?
To be honest, it didn’t feel all that different. Everyone on the team was pretty relaxed and down to earth. All just normal guys who happened to like training hard! They were still willing to have some fun once the race was over too.
How was the Cambridge-Oxford tour to America?
The America trip was very cool. Although it was only really a tour of the North-East coast, it felt like we’d been half way round the world by the end! The Oxford guys, of course, should be my sworn enemies, but they were really good fun. It wouldn’t have been the same without them. I’m still looking forward to beating them at Varsity, though!
Did you get caught up in events at the Boston Marathon?
I think the events in Boston left us all a bit shaken, but thankfully nothing more. We’d only just arrived when it all happened: we got back from lunch and turned on the TV to find that our new city had briefly become the focus of world news. Our hotel was full of people who had been running in the marathon, and being athletes ourselves it felt almost personal.
What are your ambitions ahead of the outdoor season?
My main ambition is just to run as fast as I can. I haven’t had a proper outdoor season for a few years, so I’m hoping to carry through my cross country form and revise all of my PBs this year. I’ll be looking to run well at BUCS and Varsity but the bigger goal is getting a qualifying time for the European Junior Championships later in the summer.
How hard do you train? How much of a sacrifice is it?
I usually aim to run between 45 and 50 miles in a week, with a couple of hard sessions thrown in, a 70 minute run on Sunday, and the occasional circuit. Training can be pretty time consuming, so balancing it with work is often difficult, but rarely unmanageable. It may sound strange, but I’m not actually sure I’d survive in Cambridge without running. It offers the opportunity to get away from things a bit, to spend some time outside the Cambridge bubble. It also tires you out, so sleeping well is never a problem!
Photo Credit: Michael Scott