Hayley took the running world by storm as she went from being a 3:22 marathoner in 2017 to a 2:36 elite athlete in 2018. She has since bettered this time by running 2:32:42 at the Valencia Marathon last December. It was also her story of life as a full-time cancer research radiographer balanced alongside an intense training regime that came to the fore when she launched her body across the London Marathon finish line that brought her to the attention of the public. This truly showed the grit and dedication of a lot of our country’s best athletes. We spoke to Hayley about how she is feeling going into the trials.
You’ve run 2:32, is the Olympic QT your aim? And how are you feeling about the Olympics next year?
I don’t really think in terms of the QT, with the quality we have in the event it’s going to take more than that to get selected anyway. I think it’s great that we now have a trial and it is going to be paced to get the qualifying time. I just want to get as fit as possible and compete as best as I can on the day. There will be loads of talk between now and then about how things might play out but it’s an event where in general the fittest people come out on top. Obviously, everyone would love to go to the Olympics. I know the level I want to get to, and if I do that, I’ll be pretty happy if people beat me, which they could well do.
This year hasn’t been easy for anyone, do you feel you’ve been able to prepare as you would in a normal year?
I think the answer to that is no, but it really doesn’t matter. There are no excuses, just look at some of the performances people have put in when they have been able to race. Obviously this year has been very different for everyone but as runners we have been incredibly lucky - we have still been able to train. I have probably learnt more this year as a result of what’s happened and I know I will be a better athlete for it. Really though, whether or not I am is pretty insignificant in the scheme of things, I am incredibly lucky to doing what I am doing and I will just try and relish that. In a funny way it provides real perspective for something like the trial, after this year we are incredibly fortunate to have a race which puts things in our hands. After that you just do your best and have no complaints.
The course is going to be laps again, What are your opinions on this? Do you think it could play to your strengths?
I know there has been a lot of talk about the course. I don’t think it really matters to be honest. It seems like everything is being done to make it as fast as possible and it’s a cliché to say that it’s the same for everyone. I am just excited to race.
Kenyan and Ethiopia always seem to dominate in the marathon and distance events, what do you think you can do to bridge the barrier between the ‘British runner’ and the ‘Kenyan’?
Those nations have huge depth but there are plenty examples recently of people competing with them, and not just from a country like Uganda. The US have had a number of successes at the Olympics and WMM in recent years. I look at Sara Hall in London, not many predicted that, but she ran fearlessly and got second behind someone who was probably in world record shape. Then I look at someone like Jake Smith and just think that we don’t need to limit ourselves. Personally, I don’t know if I will ever be able to compete at the front of these races, but I do know that I have a lot of improving to do and I am excited to see how far that can take me.