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Ingrid Kristiansen: my greatest race

Ingrid Kristiansen: my greatest race

Norwegian runner recalls her world 10,000m record of 30:13.74 at the Bislett Games in Oslo on July 5 in 1986

Ingrid Kristiansen remains the only athlete to simultaneously hold the world records at 5000m, 10,000m and the marathon. In 1985, she became the first woman to break the 31-minute barrier for 10,000m on the track and, one year later, returned to her homeland for a successful attempt at taking down her own world record.

Here she remembers that 10,000m record run…

Bislett was a really nice crowd, especially for us as Norwegians, but athletes from all over the world also felt that the audience helped them to produces good races. You still have that, even if the stadium has changed since 1986. Now there’s a warm-up area under the stadium but we used to have to go up a hill to run up in a park, so it’s a big difference.

Me and my coach, Johan Kaggestad, were telling people that I was planning to run much faster than I had done the year before. In 1985, I was the first one who ran 10,000m under 31 minutes but, at that time, I wasn’t training for the 10,000m – my plan that year was to focus on the marathon. It was the most important thing that year for me.

Johan had said to me: “You can run faster than last year but I don’t know how fast you can run.”

I thought maybe around 30 minutes, so I went for that. Johan was a little bit more afraid of that pace in case I didn’t make it. But I said to him that it’s much better to try, rather than come in at 30:59 again. It was not as if there was a gold medal on offer. You didn’t earn too much money at that time so there was nothing to make you run fast. I thought let’s just see what I could do on that evening.

I was the kind of runner who was never afraid of having bad races. In 1986, I really believed I could have a great race – and I tried and I made it. That’s the problem [just now] – that some runners are afraid of bad races. I see it currently in the Norwegian women. When you are afraid of having a bad race, you never produce a good race. 

That’s the difference with the male runners in Norway, like Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Karsten Warholm – they are not afraid of having bad races and you see what’s happened with them. 

In the 1980s, you had so few women running like this so you had to be strong mentally.

In Norway, I never had somebody in my events who could run as fast as me. Even if I planned to run the 10,000m, they couldn’t pace me for more than 800m. That…

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