With less than five weeks to go until the IAU World 24-Hour Championships arrive in Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 1 – 2, we caught up with 2015 World and European bronze medallist Robbie Britton to gain an insight into his preparations, as well as the excitement and anticipation that comes with running at a global championship on home soil.
The first step for the team was to gather for a weekend at the Streatley High Performance Centre in Oxfordshire for a weekend centred on planning and preparing for the championships, with an equal spotlight given to physiotherapy, nutrition and the key importance of team bonding, as Britton reflected on the weekend being “a chance for learning and sharing of the huge amounts of experience in the room”, every ounce of which will be crucial come the start line on July 1.
What will it mean to you as a current medallist on the global 24-hour stage to race at the competition again, but this time on home soil?
The competition is a great motivator for me and competing against the best in the World at a home Champs, with a big crew of family and friends coming to visit, is brilliant. We’re defending Team Champions and that’s something I really want to achieve again, proving that the current crop of British 24hr runners are world class.
Besides team medals, how important is the team aspect when it comes to competing at a 24-hour champs? You will obviously go through the motions over the course of the competition, so it must help to have developed strong relationships with those on the British Athletics team, particularly at events such as the squad gathering.
Every 24hr race has highs and lows and having a strong team around you to keep you grounded in the highs and gee you up in those low moments is vital. It gives a greater meaning to just running around in circles in a wave of masochism, trying to work with fellow members of the British Athletics team to make every metre count towards an unbeatable team total.
The squad weekend was a chance to share experience, knowledge, training, plans and just to solidify the friendships that are a big part of this squad. We have competition with our team – the high standards make it so with individual medallists within the ranks, but it doesn’t stop us working together in the first 20 hours – then we can start racing!
What are you expectations of your own performance come the championships in Belfast?
I’m not one to set a limit on my own potential, even 2015 was a 22km improvement on my own personal best, which some would have said was a ridiculous jump.
I’ll be aiming to be amongst the individual medals in Belfast; just how well I do will depend on how the next block of training goes, my execution on race day and how the rest of the World competes. If the Japanese send three runners who run huge distances then there isn’t anything you can do but do your best and accept that it wasn’t your day. 24hr racing isn’t as much about racing the man or woman next to you, but pushing your own personal limitations and racing yourself.
For anyone wishing to support the team in Belfast, we’ll be running around in circles for the whole day, interaction and gratitude is guaranteed and it’s an inspiring sport for all abilities.
You can follow Robbie’s journey on Twitter via @UltraBritton