Runner's World (UK) - - Heroes -

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.

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