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Eamonn Martin: my greatest race

Eamonn Martin: my greatest race

Distance runner remembers the Bislett Games in Oslo in July 1988 when he won the 10,000m in a British record of 27:23.06

I was still working for Ford at that point – officially as a testing and development engineer, testing all of the various components around the car. When I came back from the 1984 Olympic Games, the powers that be there met me and asked: “Is there anything we can do to help?” 

I’d gone to Europe after those Olympics and raced in Cologne and Koblenz, as did Dave Moorcroft, and I spent quite a bit of time with him. He told me that he’d tried full-time working, part-time working and being a full-time athlete. He found that by far the best balance had been working part-time and having a purpose each day so that he wasn’t just hanging around waiting to train.

So, when Ford came to me, I said I could do with working shorter hours per day – from 10am until 3.15pm – and they sanctioned it. From 1984 onwards, that’s exactly what happened.

I just absolutely grabbed it and made the best use of it, thinking I was incredibly fortunate to have been given this opportunity. I had plenty of time in the morning: to train, to stretch, to shower, to do breakfast properly and go to work.

I hadn’t really changed my winter, I think I’d added just a couple of miles to the Sunday run, and I just got better and better and stronger and stronger.

Then, in the transition from winter into spring, I was doing some bigger sessions on the track and they were going fantastically well.

That’s when Mel Batty, my coach, said: “You should really dip your toe in the water at 10,000m this season.” I thought that sounded like a really good idea.

I was doing big sessions at Basildon and, one time, [1980 Olympian] Barry Smith came over.

I told him: “I’m looking at running the Bislett 10,000m on Saturday.” He joined in, did half a session, then watched the second half.

He said to me: “That was absolutely amazing. On Saturday, you’re either going to run a blinder or you’re going to go too fast and the wheels are going to come off.”

I still had to get my head around the 10,000m. Nevertheless, if you are a track runner at 5000m, and physically doing great sessions – and mentally they’re tough as well – you kind of feel ready for it. And that’s what I was doing. 

It had rained a little before the race. The air was slightly oxygenated. It was dead still and cool inside. They scheduled the 10,000m for late evening – just…

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