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UK Athletics

brownlee's love for cross country

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Jonathan Brownlee

If you look through the results of the senior men’s race at the recent English National Cross Country Championships held at Nottingham’s picturesque Wollaton Park, you will see a who’s who of domestic cross country. However, in ninth place is a name that is familiar for different reasons.

Jonathan Brownlee, who won triathlon bronze at London 2012, improved on his 21st place at the North of England Championships in January to achieve his highest ever finish at the event.

The 2012 world triathlon champion has a strong distance running background, including junior medals at regional level, and believes that cross country has played an important part in his development into one of the world’s best triathletes.

“I have always really enjoyed racing on the cross,” he said. “It's that passion for running and racing that made me want to go out and train as a youngster. That attitude set me up perfectly for a career in triathlon. When you spend most of your life training and racing, you have to enjoy it.”

With the triathlon season taking place during the summer, the 23 year old believes that cross country gives him an important focus during the long winter months of training.

He continued: “I mainly do it for enjoyment to be honest. The winters are pretty long as a triathlete, and it's training all the way through. So it's really nice to break it up with a bit of racing. I love racing for Yorkshire as well, and I can't do that in Triathlon.”

Despite training for three disciplines, Brownlee runs every day in his beloved Yorkshire, where he does most of his training with his brother, Olympic champion Alistair.

He continued: “I run every day of the week and some days twice. I probably average around 60-70 miles per week, depending on the terrain, with two interval sessions. It's less time than I spend on the bike but more time than I spend in the pool.

“Yorkshire and the countryside is the real reason me and Alistair got into running and cycling in the first place. I don't think there'll be a day in my life I don't fancy getting outside and doing some sort of exercise in God's own county.”

The British Athletics Cross Challenge final takes place as part of the Inter-Counties Championships at Birmingham’s Cofton Park this weekend and, although he would relish the chance to continue his recent form, Brownlee will now turn his attention back to triathlon.

“Unfortunately I won’t be running,” he explained. “I love having the opportunity to race for Yorkshire, but this year the Triathlon season starts pretty early in the year, so I have to travel over to New Zealand to kick off my 2014 campaign.”

At the age of just 23, the Bingley athlete still has the majority of his career ahead of him and although his immediate focus is on the pursuit of more Olympic glory at Rio 2016 he hasn't completely ruled out a return to running only events.

“I don’t have plans to focus only on running at the minute to be honest. It seems like I have been doing triathlon for a long time, but I'm still only 23 and young in the sport. I want to better my bronze in the Olympics before I concentrate on anything else.”