Runner Profile:  James Brown

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James Brown (City of Derry AC) is a man who has continually impressed me over the last 3-4 years; in truth, I first recognised James’ name as I have a good friend who is also called James Brown, incidentally, he is also a runner (with East Coast AC).  Since then, ex-boxer James has improved at a considerable rate.  The unassuming Spartan has represented Northern Ireland at Masters level and this year, he confirmed his status as one of the provinces top athletes when he claimed the NI & Ulster Masters 5,000m title at the Mary Peters Track (August 2013).

James has produced several other top quality performances in 2013; he has also achieved new personal bests over 3,000m (9:14.15) and 10,000m (33:57.75) on the track, with the former seeing him finish just outside the podium places at the Woodies DIY AAI Masters Indoor Championships.  He (James) also recorded 1:13:29 at the Waterside Half Marathon in September (2013).

Full Name: James Brown

Current Category: Male Vet40

Associated Club: City of Derry Spartans AC

Personal Bests: 3,000m (Indoor Track) – 9:14:15, 5k – 15:48, 5 miles – 26:43, 10k (Road) – 33:25, 10,000m (Track) – 33:57.75, 15k – 51:54, 10 miles – 55:11, Half Marathon (13.1m) – 1:13:18, Marathon (26.2m) – 2:46:59

What is your favourite Northern Ireland event? The Waterside Half Marathon, there was a real buzz about the place and so many familiar faces.  I enjoyed the Northern Ireland Senior XC, that was another event, especially with the internationals present.

When did you start running? In 2008 my sister set up a cancer charity following her own diagnosis of breast cancer in 2002, so I decided to run the Dublin City Marathon for her charity. I had only had about 8 weeks training for it.  I knew very little about running at the time and had no race plan. I just ran the same pace almost every day.  I had heard that you were to do a long run once a week so I did 12 miles one week and 20 miles the next.  I have no idea what pace I ran during the marathon but I had nothing left at 20 miles so I walked and jogged the last 6, to be honest I really can’t remember much about them, it was definitely the toughest place I have ever been, but I finished it in 3:07.  After I had recovered from this I decided to join a club and take running a bit more serious.

Why do you run? I run mainly because I really enjoy it, getting out in the fresh air and for how good it makes me feel both physically and mentally.  I enjoy getting up early on a Sunday morning for a long run, empty roads, peace and quiet, for me there is no better feeling.  When I finished boxing I felt there was a void in my life and when I found running I couldn’t believe that you could still compete and improve with no age limits.  It just gave me a new lease of life and hopefully through my running I can set a good example for my children Brandon and Emily.

You race regularly on the roads, track (indoor & outdoor) and cross country; do you have preference out of the terrains? I enjoy them all but I would probably say that road racing suits me better because I do the biggest majority of my training on the roads.

What is your next race and what do you want from it? I’m not sure, I’m just taking a bit of break at the minute, I’ll maybe come back and focus on the Northern Ireland & Ulster Masters Cross Country Championships.  Hopefully we can get a team together and make a challenge for the title.

What is your favourite training session? Kilometres or mile repeats would be my favourite session but I also enjoy doing tempo runs.  I do the majority of my training alone but really enjoy meeting the Spartans on a Saturday morning for a catch up and a quality session.

What are your favourite pre-race and post-race meals? If I am doing a morning race I would have two Weetabix and a cup of tea or if I am doing an evening race I would have a chicken sandwich and a sports drink.  Post-race I reward myself with chocolate. Chocolate and biscuits would be my downfall!

What would you consider to be your biggest achievement in running? I have a few, getting the Athlete of the Year Award in my first competitive season with my former club, Inishowen AC and last year picking up a silver team medal representing Northern Ireland in the British & Irish International Cross Country Championships was also a proud moment for me.

What is your running ambition? My running ambition is to get my times down as far as I can, hopefully pick up more medals and possibly in the next couple of years to compete in the European Masters Championships.  I am also going to do another marathon next year and hopefully post a decent time.

You won the NI & Ulster Masters 10,000m Championship this Summer (2013); how did this feel? I really enjoyed it, I was in great shape around that time.  The laps just went by so quickly my main focus was to run a sub 34.  I was absolutely delighted especially since I had not done any training on the track all year.

This year has been a busy one for you, with some top performances. Personally, I thought your results at the AAI National Half Marathon Championships, where you ran 1:13:18 and your 12th place finish at the NI & Ulster Junior XC Championships were your best. Have you been happy with this 2013? What have been your highlights? I’ve had an excellent 2013.  I enjoyed running the indoors for the first time, getting the silver M40 medal in the National 10K was great too.  The NI & Ulster Junior XC was definitely the biggest because we were the underdogs, nobody gave us a chance and to make it worse we had lost our best runner at the time, Noel Logan, on the morning of the race.  Our club coaches Noel McMonagle and Dara Furey’s inspirational team talks on the bus before the race really fired us up; they instilled belief in us and made us feel proud to be wearing the Spartan vest.  It gave us a great sense of team spirit.  When we won you would have thought we had just won the World Cup.  It was a brilliant day.

You were recently selected for the Northern Ireland Masters XC team, but have since decided to withdraw. What was the reason for this? I’ve had a long successful season and lately I feel my form has dipped and because of this I have lost a bit of confidence.  My body is calling out for a rest.  I wouldn’t want to go to Cardiff and underperform and not do the team justice and possibly affect their chance of medalling.  I am disappointed as we only get one chance a year but if I can’t give a race 100% then I won’t do it. I wish the team the best of luck.

Outside running are there any other sports you like? I love most sports.  As a former boxer for Raphoe A.B.C I always keep an eye on what’s happening in the boxing world.  I follow Manchester United and I like to do a bit of cycling from time to time.  I also enjoy watching sport on TV, my favourite thing to watch has always been Sports Personality of the Year in December; for me it’s a great nights viewing.