Endurance, Exeter, Mud and Surfing – Rebekah Nixon’s Breakthrough Year:
At the Northern Ireland & Ulster Senior Cross Country Championships in February, nineteen year old Rebekah Nixon (Dromore AC) ran a mature controlled race, never panicking, covering the gaps, remaining in contention until pulling away for victory in the final lap. A meteoric rise, but no surprise to those who have followed her career to date; Rebekah has made huge changes in her approach and is now reaping the rewards.
If you had been speaking to Rebekah in 2016, she would have referred to herself as an 800m runner! Yes, she did cross country in the winter and always enjoyed the extra challenge that mud brings, however her main focus was two laps of the track. But recently, she had felt that she was putting in a lot of effort with little to show for it. Many at that age would have given up, but Rebekah decided to change tack.
“Once I started doing more mileage, it became quite obvious that I would be better suited to longer races.” She made the decision to jump three distances, and target the 10K! And has not looked back.
Last September, in Larne, Rebekah won her 10K debut and went under 40 minutes! Racing sparingly, due to her circumstances, she then had a victory at the Bobby Rea Memorial Cross Country in Kilbroney Park.
“My training is very structured and periodised with increased mileage. Luke [her boyfriend, an athlete himself] and I sat down and marked out the key races of the year.”
Training was not the only major change this past year. Rebekah also made the decision to move to Exeter, where she now studies Sport and Exercise Medical Sciences. Her choice of university may have been made with an eye on training environment, and very likely with her other sporting passion in mind, surfing! She has settled well and any trips home during term time have been to compete. Meals are no problem as Rebekah is a keen and able cook, something Luke may have taken into account a long time ago… Being able to link up with the university athletics team for track training twice a week, has been another benefit.
Rebekah’s victory at the NI Senior Championships last month was the highlight of her career so far. In fact, it had been quite an ordeal even managing to make it to the start line! Up at 3AM to get a taxi, then an hour sitting outside waiting on a bus in -2°C, a flight and another journey from Dublin to the race; this final leg of her trip being made with her own chauffeur, dad Stephen, still retained after years of service! Rebekah is quick to pay tribute to the sacrifices her parents have made in order to help her get thus far. Fifteen year old sister Bethany, finished 17th in the same race.
And looking forward. Rebekah feels honoured to be representing Northern Ireland at Loughborough this weekend, over cross country. Then she will have a break before preparing for the BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) track championships in May, springboarding her into the summer season where she is already eyeing PBs over shorter distances too. By June, hopefully Rebekah will be a familiar sight once again on the tracks and roads of Northern Ireland.
Article by Lee Maginnis.