This Yorkshireman just matched Mo Farah’s British 10km record – but who is he?

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Photo credit: Matt Lewis - British Athletics - Getty Images
Photo credit: Matt Lewis - British Athletics - Getty Images

The official British 10km record has stood untouched for more than 11 years after Sir Mo Farah ran 27:44 in the 2010 Bupa London 10km. But on 9 January 2021 at the Valencia Ibercaja, Yorkshire’s Emile Cairess very nearly beat it, matching Farah’s time to the second.

You may be wondering who Cairess is – after all, he’s not a household name. The 24-year-old athlete hails from Bradford, currently resides in Leeds and is a typical laidback Yorkshireman.

'I definitely had the record in mind in Valencia,' he told Runner’s World. 'I was running a bit better than last summer when I ran 27:53 on the track, so I thought, ‘There's definitely 10 seconds’ improvement there with the fitness, so why not go for the record?’

'I'm really proud of myself,' he adds. 'But afterwards you just go back home and then you’re straight back into training. It’s not like anything really changes.'

So, what is Cairess training for next? Who's his coach? And how did he get into running in the first place? To find out a little more about the Yorkshireman, we quizzed him about his running life so far...

Photo credit: Matt Lewis - British Athletics - Getty Images
Photo credit: Matt Lewis - British Athletics - Getty Images

His mum got him into running

'She’s a recreational runner and aims to run every day. So my first experience of running was tagging along with her, aged about five. From there, I ran at school, joining things like the cross country club, and then when I was 11 I joined Bingley Harriers.'

He nearly went down the football career path

'Like everyone else, I fancied myself as a bit of a footballer, but when I was 15, a few of my teammates broke their legs while playing, so I thought maybe it’s best if I stop playing football. From then on, I focused more on running.'

He never thought he’d be a pro athlete

'I came second in a race when I was in Year 2, but then when I was 12 and I came secondin Bradford Schools, I thought maybe I’ve got a bit of talent. Then I went to West Yorkshire Schools and finished lower down, then I went to English Schools and I couldn’t even see the people at the front, and I thought, "Wow, they’re the talented ones." I just really enjoyed running and improving and competing.”

Getting bronze in the European Athletics U23 Championships was a pivotal moment

'I finished university in May 2019, and in July it was the European U23 Championships where I managed to get bronze in the 10,000m. After that, I was able to sign a contract with Under Armour that allowed me to be a full-time athlete. If I’d come fourth in that race it would have been a different scenario.'

He credits his coaches for his success

'I was with Dave Benson until I was about 17, then I moved to Phil Townsend at Leeds City. At uni, I coached myself for almost two years, and then Alan Storey began giving me loads of coaching advice, and became my formal coach in 2020. They've all been pivotal to my development at different times.'

He trains in Kenya

'I went last year and I’m going again next week for four weeks. Altitude training is important when you’re trying to reach the top level – I'm trying to make it part of my yearly routine.'

Dropping weekly mileage made a big difference

'Since October 2020 I've tried to take a more holistic approach to training. Before that, I was a little consumed with just running. But when you're trying to run the times I’m trying to run you have to consider yourself an athlete rather than a runner. I was getting caught up doing too many miles and not focusing enough on things like strength and conditioning and speedwork.'

His future is bright

'My aim is to keep improving as an athlete in all distances above 5K. I have a long way to go to be competitive at the top level – I need to take some big steps forward and then hopefully in the future I can be competing for medals at major championships. I just need to focus on improving.'

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