Fine Finish for Finn
HW’s Finn Johnson chopped almost two minutes off his best 10,000m track time when he clocked 31:55.07 in finishing eighth out of 21 runners in the A race at Ladywell on September 2. It improved on his previous best of 33:51.29 on his only previous track 10,000m performance at Parliament Hill Fields in May.
Meanwhile, earlier in the morning the Club youngsters were among the winners at the South London Athletics Network meeting at Wimbledon Park. Mathieu Lacour and Tom Street won their U13 and U15 sprint hurdles races and Dhanisha Banee won her girls U15 100m race. In winning his U15 800m race, Morgan Rennie pulled Hector Revill, Edward Newton and William Belton to p.b.s, while Thomas Beare won his boys U13 200m race. Lauren Armitage was second in her girls U13 200m race, Lily Jarvis was second in her U13 girls 100m race, and Lulu Paterson second in her girls U15 100m race. Warming up for last weekend’s Surrey relay championships, the sprint relay boys and girls U15 quartets also won their races.
HW had a hat-trick of winners in the parkrun 5km events. A week after winning in Scotland, Richard McDowell led in a 523-strong field on Wimbledon Common in a personal best of 15:55, taking 10 seconds off his previous best set in May, winning for the fifth time. Adam Harwood was third in 17:37 and Henry Silverstein fourth in 17:54. There were 15 HW finishers.
Jonny Earl won the Trelissick Park event in Cornwall in 17:34 and Ellen Weir was top female finisher on the Isle of Wight in 21:48. Joe Toomey and Rob Tuer were second and sixth out of 491 runners on Clapham Common in 17:12 and 17:43. Ben Tatters was fourth out of 539 runners in Richmond Park in 18:25 with Fran Clarke fourth woman in 21:09. Fred Slemeck was fifth out of 1273 runners in Bushy Park in 16:10.
FOCUS.... ON FINN JOHNSON
It may come as a surprise to those who know Finn Johnson as one of the integral characters of the middle distance squad that he only began racing competitively on the road and over cross country in 2016, having come to HW as a talented triathlete (he won a silver medal in his age group in the Triathlon European Championships in Estonia in July).
‘I have never trained with other triathletes’, he expains, ‘I always want to learn from the best in each individual discipline’. What has surprised him is not only how quickly his performances have improved in his time competing for HW but how much he has found himself loving running for its own sake. ‘I am not sure my body likes running, but I get a real thrill out of it’ he says. ‘I have a huge respect for athletes and athletics and I really enjoy the squad nature and cameraderie of it all’.
This summer was his track debut. ‘In that lull just before the start of the season I thought, ‘I’m going to get excited about this... but it has been a baptism of fire,’ he admits. Recalling his first track 10,000m in May, at the Highgate Harriers Night of the 10,000m PBs (which also incorporated the British Championships and European Cup) where he achieved 33:51.29, he says, ‘I ran stupidly inconsistent lap times in the slowest race but at the end I sat on the bank feeling happy and proud of myself just for finishing. Now I understand much more about pacing.’ At Ladywell he was rewarded by the approval of coach Ben Noad, who, having been in charge of the SLAN meeting at Wimbledon Park in the morning, headed over to Ladywell to watch, and reckoned it was ‘the most mature and discipled run’ he had seen from Johnson. ‘I heard Ben shouting at me at 6km to go when I was making what he thought was a kamikaze move up the line’, laughs Johnson. ‘Part of me thought, you’re right, but the other part thought, no, I’m in control!’
‘It’s probably hard for people who have been involved in athletics for years to understand, but for me it has been all about learning the calendar and how to put together the full house of league races and championships, getting to familiarise myself with laptimes and how to translate the reps we do in training on a Tuesday night into the blur of a race. I’m constantly asking everyone questions about what I should be doing, not just the rest of the guys I run with, but the older athletes who have so much experience, like Mike Fuller, who was also watching at Ladywell.’
So does he now consider himself a triathlete foremost, or a runner? ‘I’d like to think a runner,’ he says, ‘however the other disciplines really help. A lot of people have told me to take it easy in September as it is going to be a long hard cross country and road season, but swimming and especially cycling is a good way of keeping up the anaerobic exercise while allowing the muscles and ligaments to recover.
‘I understand you are going to go through phases when you plateau but I believe 100 per cent that I can keep taking down my times across the distances. I have learned that impatience can lead to injury but an accumulation of effort and patience will get you to that place where you want to be.’