Felix Rusby profiles four Bristol runners who have ventured to Kenya to kick-start their running careers, an exciting prospect for all involved.
For most of us, returning to University, work and long dark hours, after a summer of rest, relaxation and recuperation is quite challenging enough. Even the more active among us tend to see a dip in fitness levels as motivation wavers with the shortening of the days and lengthening of the nights. As the days of hot beaches and sunbathing, drift into distant memories, we are left with the cold reality of work, darkness and sedentary hours spent at the desk swaddled in warm hoodies and cosy clothes.
Given this, the exploits of a small group of Bristol athletes headed on a fitness fuelled trip to Kenya, seems all the more impressive. The four Athletes, all recent members of Bristol University, have spent their summer getting in shape, in preparation for four months of altitude training based in a small rural town called Iten in Kenya. The location is well known amongst distant athletes the world over; it is something of a running mecca, with a number of the world’s most successful athletes, all starting out from this village and continuing to live and train from there today. The Bristol boys, Callum Jones, Jonny Monk, Will Davidson and Andy Salmon, will hope to draw inspiration from the impressive running culture that permeates the whole region and return fitter and stronger than ever before.
All four of the Bristol runners have an impressive track record. Callum began his career before arriving at university, competing from as far back as primary school. He has seen significant success, at county and regional level, winning races at the Southwest Schools and Southwest inter counties. Coming to University, Callum continued where he left off, achieving competitive results at BUCS cross country and indoor and outdoor track as well as posting some fast times while road racing too.
Despite this, Callum admits that the real successes arrived when he joined UBACCC (the university running club) in third year. He explains that ‘it genuinely was one of the best decisions in my athletics career. It really brought the enjoyment back into my training and racing, and as a result my first indoor season was pretty successful. I made the final of BUCS and finished fifth and churned out a few good times’. Building on this, Callum hopes that Kenya will takes his running up another gear. By increasing his aerobic base and learning from the wealth of athletes who live and train in the region, Callum hopes that he can challenge for a European indoor qualifying time.
he hopes the experience will help develop his running and stand him in good stead for major championships to come
Jonny Monk started running later than Callum and did not manage any major success until his final year at school, where he won a Bronze medal for 800m at English schools. Starting University, Jonny was set back by an Achilles injury which he developed in his first week. This was a significant setback, that stopped him competing for all of
that year. Despite this, Jonny remained committed to the sport, becoming an active member of UBACCC, that earned him the award of most committed member and lead on to his eventual role as club captain.
Despite getting back to training, Jonny wasn’t able to make it through any of the semi-finals for BUCS in any competitions. This did not throw him off however, instead Jonny persevered with his training and took up a masters at Loughborough, which finally resulted in success, when he took gold in the BUCS 800m final. Having proven his calibre on a major level, Jonny is looking forward to carrying on along this positive trajectory as he travels to Kenya. For Jonny, like Callum, he hopes the experience will help develop his running and stand him in good stead for major championships to come, but he also adds that he’s looking forward to ‘spending time and training with three of (his) best buds from UBACCC’, and re-establishing that love of the sport he first developed at Bristol.
Kenya is also a promising opportunity for Bristol athlete Will Davidson. His running career began shortly before arriving at university when he entered the Brighton Marathon. Training for this event was minimal which meant Will didn’t run a particularly quick time. Despite this, by the end of the event, he had discovered a new-found love for running. He joined UBACCC in his second year and since then has seen steady improvement in his performances.
Last year Will won the university Gwent league, a seasonal cross-country competition that sees some of the best cross-country runners in the country compete against each other over a series of races. Will also saw significant success at BUCS where he made the steeple chase final, reducing his PB by a massive 90 seconds. He is now looking forward to hitting Kenya at a run, ready to see further improvements in his running in preparation for the new season.
— UBACCC (@UniOfBristolACC) August 17, 2017
Andy was the last of the four runners to get into running, picking the sport up just before he started his engineering degree at Bristol. Once at the university, Andy took the opportunity to pursue his career in running further by joining UBACCC, where he established some strong friendships and began to compete in a number of competitions. Since taking up the sport, Andy has seen significant improvements in his running. He likes to compete in middle distance events on the track and 5 to 10k on the roads.
His love for the sport eventually resulted in him getting elected club captain in 2015. For Andy, the trip to Kenya provides a fresh opportunity to strengthen his running amongst a group of highly capable and motivated athletes. Andy is also looking forward to returning to a country where he spent the first few years of his life and is looking forward to seeing how the country has changed since his first stay.
Time for something new – in less than two weeks, us four boys will be heading out to Iten in Kenya, the offical home of champions, for 3 months high altitude training. Its going to be massive! After a slog of a 1500 season, i cant wait to get stuck into some long distance to prep up for the far superior XC season 💪 Weve set up a dedicated insta account to capture all the antics @kenya_keep_up, all abiut what were up to, how were training and (most importantly) what were eating – the kenyans must have something right. Have a look and ket us know what you think! Stay tuned, more althetic goodness to come. @willdavidson6 @callum1500m @jonnymonk800m #kenya #altitude #trainingcamp #xc #ukatheltics #kenyafeelthelovetonight #runnersofinstagram #saucony #sauconyrunning
All four of the Bristol runners, see this trip as an exciting opportunity to move their running to new heights, but also to strengthen their friendships, first formed here at Bristol. Their exploits and achievements are all impressive examples of how university sport can encourage and develop athletes and it is exciting to see how the team will come on during their training Kenya.
If you want to keep up to date with how the Bristol boys get on out in Kenya, then follow them on Instagram at Kenya_keep_up.
If you’re interested in getting involved in Athletics and Cross Country at Bristol University then visit the UBACCC website at https://as12719.wixsite.com/ubaccc.
Why not wish the boys luck in the comments.