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ATHLETICS: England keeps outdoor focus
HANNAH England has pencilled in only one indoor race as she builds up her schedule for 2013.
The 25-year-old Oxford City athlete is training in Iten, Kenya after honeymooning with husband and fellow runner Luke Gunn.
England is making the most of the altitude, putting in the hard miles to build for this summer’s World Championships in Moscow.
Last year, the world 1,500m silver medallist raced three times indoors, but is set for a different approach in 2013.
“I am out here until the middle of February,” said England.
“When I return I’ll run the 1,500m at the Birmingham Indoor Grand Prix on February 16.
“This is the only indoor race I have planned, but I may do some more depending on how this goes.”
England had an injury-hit 2012 campaign, which saw her miss out on a place in the Olympic final, but she now feels fully recharged.
“I had a great autumn preparing for the wedding and it was nice to have a something non-athletic to focus on for a few months,” said England.
“But now I feel refreshed and ready for another season.”
England is based with other British athletes such as Mo Farah at Iten’s High Altitude Training Centre run by Kenyan star Lornah Kiplagat.
Joining them there are some less familiar names such as Abingdon Amblers’ Paul Fernandez and Oxford City’s Rob Webster, who have funded their own way.
Both are decent amateur athletes – Fernandez has represented England at ultra marathon level, while Webster was the UK’s No 1 ranked vet 45 800m runner in 2011.
But Fernandez, who is on a sabbatical from Radley College, where he is a teacher, said the experience was proving a real eye-opener.
“What I have found strange is adapting to the life of a professional athlete away from home on a training camp, where training takes the priority and rest is equally important,” said Fernandez.
“It is very different to training back at home, trying to fit training in between family, work, cutting the grass, painting the kitchen, and so on.
“Essentially for me it means I have been able to exceed 100 miles a week, without feeling anywhere near as tired as I would do at home.”
Iten, in Kenya’s Rift Valley, is billed as ‘The Home of Champions’ because of the number of top-class internationals it has produced.
As a result, the local population are extremely proud of the association, with the children taking every opportunity to run with their heroes.
Fernandez said: “To them runners are the equivalent of pop stars, or Premiership footballers in England.
“Although compared to the Kenyan ‘Premiership players’, I am fourth division or lower!
“The adults don’t greet you with the same gusto, but they are very conscientious about getting out of your way, and will make great efforts so that runners don’t have to deviate from their course – not quite the same in the UK!”