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Jon Brown - On Course to Challenge the Africans

March 17 1997

MONACO - Monte Carlo - Among the outstanding runners of the 1996-1997 cross country season are two Europeans - Portugal’s Paulo Guerra and Britain’s Jon Brown, currently first and third respectively in the IAAF Cross Challenge standings. Guerra is the more established name, and won European Cross Country titles in 1994 and 1995 as well as being the most consistent European at the World Cross Country Championships during the 1990s.

But the Welsh born athlete, now based in Canada, made his big breakthrough this winter, first by beating Guerra by 35 seconds to win the 1996 European Cross Country Championships on December 15 and then by defeating World Cross Country Champion Paul Tergat in the Cross Challenge in Durham on December 28. Brown also finished second in Seville on January 19 and second in San Vittore on March 9. The following interview is intended to provide some background information on a man who will aim to prevent African domination in Turin on March 23.

How did you get involved in athletics?
I started to get really interested at school when I was about 11 years old. I did the sport as part of the school curriculum but did no other training. Every couple of weeks we would go for big cross country races in the city but it wasn’t until later that I began training properly.

Is there someone in particular who inspired you?
There was not really one person in particular. I think that when you are young you do athletics and enjoy it more for social reasons than because you want to do really well. You run because you enjoy it and it is fun.

Do you have a mentor?
I don’t have a mentor, and I don’t need one. I am very self-motivated, I push myself.

What pushes you to succeed?
I just enjoy what I do. I don’t need extra motivation. I enjoy competition; not necessarily winning but racing other people. I enjoy racing against the Ethiopians and the Kenyans who are very motivated and hungry to do well. But the main thing is the enjoyment I get from racing.

What are your plans for the rest of 1997?
I came back to Europe for an IAAF Cross Challenge race in Seville in March (Brown is based in Vancouver, Canada) and will participate in the World Cross Country Championships in Turin on March 23. After that I will probably be on the track at the IAAF World Championships in Athens racing at 10,000m.

The greatest achievement of your athletics career?
The greatest achievement of my athletics career would be to win Olympic gold. I don’t think you can get much higher than that.

Describe your daily routine?
During the winter I get up at about 7:30 a.m. every morning. I do two workouts per day, seven days a week. I train from 8:30 until 11:00, running for at least an hour but it can be longer than that depending on how I feel. I then have a break, because I need time to recover, before starting the afternoon session at about 3 p.m. In the afternoon I probably spend around the same time training and stop at about 5:30 p.m. before it gets dark. I don’t train with anybody else although I have done in the past and would like to still. But we only moved to Vancouver recently so I am still finding my way about.
During the summer, my training will not be that different to the winter. I still train twice a day, except that I will probably do the second session later because the weather is hotter.

Why did you choose to live in Canada?
We came to Canada because we were looking for a nice place to live. It is very beautiful here. It is not too cold although it is very wet. Even more so than England.

Do you enjoy training?
I do enjoy training most of the time, although when you get injured it is not fun at all. You need very strong self-discipline to stick to your routine, and it can be very physically demanding on the body. I am usually absolutely exhausted afterwards. I’m very often half asleep by the time I eat dinner, which is long before going to bed.

What are the advantages of an athletics career?
You get to meet all kinds of people from all kinds of places that you would never normally meet. You also get to travel, although now I have grown to like that less - it’s almost non-stop during the season. This can be a downside of the sport because even though you do travel you are never in one place for long enough to really appreciate it. Although it is good to see friends that you have made on the circuit.

Does the prospect of winning prize money encourage you and make you more ambitious?
I don’t really think prize money affects my way of thinking and my approach to training and competing. But of course it does help and who knows what will happen at the World Cross Championships. I might be in there with a chance to win.

How long have you been a full-time athlete?
I have been a full time athlete since 1993. Before that I was at the University of Iowa where I competed on the athletics team.

What would you be doing if you were not an athlete?
I have no idea. I might possibly be in another sport. As a kid I did a lot of other sports but my main one was always athletics. If I was not involved in athletics or sport I would try and do something exciting, although I don’t know what.

What is your favourite movie/music?
I prefer thriller films and like loud and fast music - rock music.



Welshman Jon Brown looks to be one of the few serious non-African challengers in the World Cross Country Championships which will take place in Turin, Italy, on Sunday 23 March. Will he prevail or go down like a latter day Canute before the tide of African domination of the event?


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Copyright 1997 IAAF International Amateur Athletic Federation. All rights reserved.
All photographs 1997 Allsport.