A sprint may be water off a duck’s back for Olympic champion Jason Gardener, but the former 100m runner admits he is leaping completely out of his comfort zone to take on the Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run this weekend.
Gardener and thousands of runners will take to the streets of Manchester this Sunday for the Great Manchester Run, bidding to go for longer in his challenge of moving from 100m to 10k.
With the people of Manchester, and the United Kingdom as a whole, wanting to show a united front in face of terror, the decision was made for the event to go ahead in the wake of Monday’s terrorist attack that claimed the lives of 22 people.
The run will see 2004 Athens Olympic gold medallist Gardener take to the roads as a Duracell Bunny Pacer, voluntarily helping runners pace their race and reach their target times.
And the 41-year-old knows this is a challenge unlike anything else he has faced before – despite having a starring role in Great Britain’s 4x100m success 13 years ago.
“I am out of my comfort zone, so I’m relying on the energy on the streets from the Manchester crowd, knowing that I’ve got a job to do to help inspire other runners to run with an Olympic athlete,” he said.
A highlight of the UK sporting calendar, events like this can bring light in times of great darkness.
“I hope it can be quite inspirational,” says Jason, “I’ve got that added responsibility of not only making sure that I complete the race in the time that I want, but I’ve got to help others to achieve their goals as well.
“Kelly Sotherton recently did a great job in Birmingham at getting some of the runners under the one-hour mark but endurance has never been my speciality!
“I’m hoping that can help get other runners over the line – that would be the highlight for me.”
Duracell is an Official Partner of the 2017 Great Run Series, powering the 13 race series that sees 230,000 runners compete annually across the UK.
The Series includes marquee events such as the Great Birmingham 10k, Great Manchester Run, the Great Newham London Run – which concludes with a lap inside the Stadium at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – and the UK’s biggest running event, the world famous Great North Run.
And with Commonwealth heptathlon champion Kelly Sotherton and Sydney 2000 bronze medallist Katharine Merry taking on the Duracell Bunny Challenge, Gardener is looking forward to dusting off the old training gear in pursuit of glory.
“The processes are similar, you start with the end of the race in mind and you have to go back and look at what you’ve done before in the Olympic days.
“It’s a great thing, I’ve been given a special opportunity and it gives me something work towards. I’m very much someone who is goal-orientated, and having accepted this offer a few weeks ago, the realisation came that I’ve got to go out there and do the training.
“One of the things I’ve learnt is that you can’t cram all of your training into the last minutes, just because you’ve got the days there doesn’t mean you must use them all, as that’s where people become injured.”
Jason Gardener will pacing the Great Manchester Run this weekend, undertaking the Duracell Bunny Challenge to go for longer. Follow @DuracellUK on Twitter to see if Jason can go from 100m to 10k.
Image courtesy of Media First Ltd via YouTube, with thanks.