THE RISING STAR
IN APRIL 2015, when Eliud Kipchoge was storming to victory in the London Marathon, Callum Hawkins had never even run the distance. Little more than a year later he was holding off his idol, and the rest of the field, at the halfway mark of the Olympic marathon in Rio. Hawkins was eventually caught, but still finished ninth, the culmination of a meteoric rise during 2016 that saw him emerge as one of Britain’s most promising young athletes.
Rio was only the third marathon for the 24-year-old from the village of Elderslie, near Glasgow, who’d previously specialised in crosscountry, 5000m and 10,000m – competing in the latter at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014. Frankfurt, in October 2015, was Hawkins’ marathon debut, and he backed up a strong showing in Germany by finishing eighth in London, with a PB of 2:10:52, qualifying in the process for Rio as highest-placed Brit.
‘I knew once I moved up to the marathon I’d be semi-decent, but I never thought I’d be this good,’ he says.
After Rio, Hawkins returned to his native Scotland, winning the Great Scottish Run in October. He was the first British winner of the event in 23 years, but it was his course-record time that stood out – 60:22, the secondfastest half marathon ever by a Brit (behind Mo Farah). ‘I wasn’t expecting that at all. I never thought I’d go under 61 minutes,’ says Hawkins. Is breaking the hour for the half now in his sights? ‘It wasn’t in my mind before then but it has certainly jumped in there now.’
His performances suggest a maturity that bodes well for the years ahead – particularly since marathon runners typically don’t peak until their 30s. ‘I used to fear taking on the world’s best but now I don’t get anywhere near as intimidated,’ he says. ‘It’s a real buzz being up there with the leaders, but I just focus on my running and try not to get too carried away.’ Yes, you can leave that to the rest of us.