It’s been quite a year for Callum Hawkins. The 24-year-old Scot was the first British athlete home at the 2016 London Marathon and repeated that feat in Rio, finishing in ninth place overall – with a time of 2:11:52 – having led the event in the early stages. MR caught up with the rising star to find out more about what running means to him.
Congratulations on a top 10 finish in the marathon at Rio 2016. How did you find the whole experience?
It was incredible, to be honest. Going into it, I thought the pace would be a lot quicker so my plan was to take it easy through the first half and try to come through [later on]. But with the way the conditions were – it was quite wet and a bit colder than I thought it would be – and the pace being pretty slow, I worked my way up into the lead pack. It was pretty hectic in there, so I just thought I’d get to the front, run at my own pace and hang in there.
Before you burst onto the marathon scene, you enjoyed a stellar cross-country career. Should all runners pull on their spikes and head for the mud?
Yeah, definitely. It helps you to work on a bit of strength that you probably don’t get on the roads. And, to be fair, I really enjoy doing cross-country – it’s where it all started for me. I’ll be doing some cross-country races again this year if everything goes to plan.
Your brother, Derek, is another top runner. Were you competitive about everything growing up?
Yeah, I was always trying to be quicker than my brother. But the good thing was, he’d been through all the experiences so he could guide me as to what was right and wrong. It was good to have someone to aspire to.
Who, if anyone, is your running hero?
The first international elite race I watched was the Edinburgh Cross-Country. Kenenisa Bekele would always turn up. When I was growing up, he was pretty much untouchable, so he’s definitely something of a hero of mine. We both ran this year’s London Marathon, so it was pretty exciting for me to see him on the start line.
Related content: Kenenisa Bekele Running Style
What’s your most cherished running possession?
Probably my medal from the European Youth Olympics in 2009. I won the race so I’ve got a gold medal with the rings on it. That was my first big international race; the first time I ran for GB. I was favourite going into it and managed to handle the pressure and come up with the goods.
What’s non-runners’ greatest misconception about running?
I think it’s about how hard it is going to be. A lot of people say, “I can’t run to save my life,” but that’s because most people try to do way too much too soon. The key is to start at your own pace and give it time. That way it becomes something that can be both enjoyable and rewarding. Running can be a relief from day-to-day stress; a way to go out and just be with your own thoughts.
Finally, describe yourself as a runner in one word.