Athletics News

Phil Sesemann sets his sights on the Olympic marathon

Phil Sesemann sets his sights on the Olympic marathon

After securing selection for this summer’s Paris Games, the British distance runner explains why he is unlikely to return to work as a junior doctor

When Phil Sesemann ran 2:08:04 at the Seville Marathon in February, it earned him a place in the British team for the Paris Olympics. The performance signalled the achievement of a lifelong goal but it also confirmed his future lies firmly with running as a full-time athlete.

Previously the 31-year-old had combined athletics with shifts as a junior doctor in Leeds, but his latest marathon PB and Olympic call-up means he is ditching the medical scrubs for good as he focuses on improving his results on the roads even further.

“It’s something I’m not 100 per cent sure I’ll go back to,” he says of his days in the medical profession. “I’m really enjoying my marathon running and I see guys I’ve raced against such as Tadesse Abraham, who ran 2:05:10 last year aged 41, and I think: ‘Why can’t I give this another 10 years of competing?’ I’m doing a bit of coaching and really enjoying that, too.”

Phil Sesemann in Seville

Ironically, Sesemann was a reluctant marathon runner to begin with. After starting life at Blackheath & Bromley in the South of England and then Leeds City in recent years, he raced shorter distances on the track, road and country. In January 2023 he even out-kicked world 1500m champion Jake Wightman to win an indoor 3000m in Sheffield in 7:54.34.

“I wanted to sneak on to a team at some stage,” he says in the latest issue of AW magazine. “My coach Andy [Henderson] told me that he saw me as a marathon runner in the long term and I was a bit taken aback. ‘Really?’ I thought.

“But he saw that I enjoyed running mileage and clocking up those numbers and it was motivating me more than the shorter stuff. Despite this, though, maybe it wasn’t until the end of 2020 that I felt I was ready to find a marathon to do.”

Phil Sesemann (Coros)

On his marathon debut in London in 2021 Sesemann finished as the first Brit home in 2:12:58. It emerged he had done lots of his training with a Spaniel and Vizsla cross called ‘Kipchoge’ and a German Shorthaired Pointer called ‘Haile’. The self-styled ‘mileage mutts’ even had their own Strava accounts and Sesemann said they joined him for around two thirds of his own training.

At the European Championships in Munich in 2022 he ran slightly slower, albeit in warmer, tougher conditions, with 2:15:17. But he improved his…

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