Former XC great lambasts UK performances in Amman

Posted in The Sweat by Matt Ward on Sat 11 Apr '09


Hutchings has got room to talk - he's been there...

Tim Hutchings says that until UK athletes approach something like ‘competitive’ against the African and Eastern nations they should not be sent to events such as the World Cross Country championships.

It seems that every great British distance runner of the past is ready to articulate their disappointment (see Dave Bedford from earlier this week) at the state of endurance running in the UK right now. Most of it is more than fair, however Hutchings goes as far as saying that until the nation produces runners that are capable of being worthy opposition to the the top athletes at races such as the World XC, they should stay at home.

In an article published in this weeks’ (09.04.09) Athletics Weekly former Olympian and World XC 1985 and 1989 silver medalist speaks out against the UKA’s selection criteria, their handling of the athletes before they traveled to Jordan, and the lack general ability in the current endurance climate. He also says that the money spent on sending a full quota of teams to these events should be spent on raising standards instead.


On his way to silver behind Paul Tergat in 1989

Hutchings is candid as ever in saying:

“If men can’t get close to 13.45 for 5000m, or 28.30 for 10,000m then they’ve got no business being anywhere near those championships”.

Interestingly on the same page it is reported that U23 European silver medalist Andy Vernon wasn’t entirely happy with the set up either. Speaking about the Aldershot ‘holding camp’ he said:

“The Aldershot camp was okay for bringing the team together, but I am not really sure what purpose it served because what we did there I could have done on my own anyway”.

There will no doubt be a lot more questioning of abilities, training, racing and selections before the next year’s championships in Poland – let’s hope someone has some good answers!

Reactions so far
  1. Colin Livingstone Apr 14, 03:47 PM

    Hutchings is absolutely right. Tough if you don’t like it…but he’s telling it how it is.You can’t reward mediocrity with a GB vest.

    I am a former Kiwi who now lives and coaches in Wales. I coached a local athlete to 5th in the World mountain running champs, 8th in Europe, 3 x Snowdon international victories and many other great I’m in a position to comment.

    The trouble is British athletes have lost the work ethic .If you are serious about racing distance, then train distance. A lot of so called distance runners in Britain ( and a lot of western countries ) are soft, with no fire in their belly.. and they train like pansies.

    They are running pathetic mileages and ineffective VO2 work. They are not strong enough to handle the faster get injured or go off the boil very quickly.

    They do not develop the capillarisation or cardiac efficiency, aerobic mitochondrial base or uptake required to run 28 minutes for 10k.

    In Hutching’s era, there were 20 blokes in Britain under 13.30 for 5k.Runners as fast as 13.17 missed a GB vest.

    Hutchings could belt out a 3.54 mile and 13.11 5000 metres and workouts like 6 × 1000 in 2.32. Rod Dixon, the great New Zealander of the 70s and 80s, could run 800 in 1.47, 3.33 1500 …all the way to 2hrs 08 for the marathon !

    An example of his pre season conditioning included 1 × 2 mile in 8.35… jog 8 minutes 1xmile in 4.08… jog 4 minutes 1 × 800 in 1.53… jog 2 minutes… 1×400 in 52-53 to finish.This was done after months of mileage and hillwork, before final glycolitic speedwork as a fitness test. Another Dixon workout was 2 miles of jogging the bends and sprinting/ striding the straights.

    You only get this sort of strength with years of enthusiastic training, hills, fartlek, efforts, recovery jogging,long runs, high octane VO2 work etc…


  2. MST - Matt Apr 15, 04:08 PM

    Thanks for your comment Colin.

    Can you get in touch again, as I would like to ask you a few questions…


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