I first knew that Elliot, a friend I used to work with, was an elite runner when helping out at the water station of a local half marathon. I was told how quickly to expect those front runners and couldn’t believe it. Even more shocked to see Elliot flying along with them. He is such an inspiration to me and his times are just incredible. I know I will never be anywhere close but his hard work and determination gives me hope for my own running journey. He kindly agreed to share his own amazing running journey.
Elliot Prince – Running Story
So, I think the running bug first started in Primary School. I took part in the athletics club and, at the time, my throwing was good as my running. I didn’t have a huge amount of speed and didn’t get selected for the inter-school athletics competition. However, my Year 6 teacher used to talk about her son who ran and that really got me thinking as it sounded like a lot of fun (and he trained with A CLUB – CHELTENHAM & COUNTY HARRIERS – that seemed really impressive).
Cheltenham & County Harriers Runner
When I started senior school, I was lucky that one of the (Science) teachers there ran a cross country club. So, in Year 7, I signed up to it. I ended up running the district schools cross country championships against all Year 7s from in and around Cheltenham and didn’t even make the top 70. I still enjoyed it, though, and ended up joining Cheltenham & County Harriers when my brother was also old enough to go along. It helped that the teacher was a coach at the club. The next year, I ran in the District Championships again, this time against Year 8s and 9s, and barely made the top 70. It was a marginal improvement. I was enjoying my Harrier training sessions though where we practiced all events.
It was whilst doing this that I got selected to represent the county in an Inter-County Sportshall Athletics competition. It was quite high quality and I found it tough but again very enjoyable. It gave me a real buzz. This was with 6 months of training behind me. When the next track and field season came around and I was in Year 8, the team had a space in the hammer event. I was told that I was good enough to do it at competition but told the team managers that I also wanted to do running events. I made a good friend whilst competing in hammer. Was I very good? Probably not and I certainly was not built like a hammer thrower but I scored points for the team. My first 400m race was memorable because I started off far too fast and ‘died’ to run a time of 77 seconds.
But from that point, I gradually improved. At the next year’s district cross country championships I came in the top 16 and qualified for the County Championships. I was so pleased! I didn’t quite make it any further but that didn’t matter too much to me. I knew I was improving. In the Spring of school Year 9, I made the transition to an endurance only group and focused on my running. This led to much more improvement and I started to post some promising times.
National Cross County Championships
Over the next few years’ worth of district championships, I improved further and in Year 10 I qualified for the National Cross County Championships – I felt very proud. My track personal best times improved and eventually I attained best times of 54 seconds for 400m, 2:04 for 800m, 4:19 for 1500m and 9:30 for 3000m. I went on to reach the National Cross Country Championships again when in School Year 12. After years of gradually improving my position at the District Championships, I finally won them in Year 13. Given my Year 7 position, I realized that it showed what a bit of talent and a lot of hard work and determination could do.
London Marathon Runner
My running on the roads and cross country increased as I got older. I became a part of the Harriers’ league winning team in the local cross country league. I started to get best times over 5km on the road and then 10km too. In 2010, I decided to run in the London Marathon. I’d lost my cousin, whom I’d been very close to, two years earlier and I wanted to do something significant to raise money for a good cause in memory of her. This gave me real focus.
On the way to running the marathon, I got a 10km personal best of 34:25 and a half marathon personal best of 1:15.07. I then ran a time of 2:43.00 at London. The experience was one that I will never forget. It took everything out of me and I will forever be grateful. 252nd out of over 36,000. I have run the marathon on several occasions since but have yet to better that time.
Cotswold Way Relay
One of my favourite races is the Cotswold Way Relay. This race is 10 stages that extend the 103 miles of the Cotswold Way. I have run the race 13 times, 9 different stages and been in the winning team a number of times, coming in second on one of the stages. This year I should complete my final stage and become a ‘King of the Cotswolds’.
Whilst running remains a passion and I still hope to improve on that time, my attentions over the years have turned to helping in the sport; something that I started when I was 15. I have become a coach, an official and many other things too. It is through these other roles that I decided to volunteer to help at the London Olympics. In March 2010 I filled in a form requesting to assist. Little did I know that 2 ½ years later and after going through several stages, I would be at the center of the greatest stage on Earth.
As a child, I always believed that I could make the Olympics. That didn’t quite happen as an athlete but the opportunity that was afforded me through the sport was phenomenal. I found myself being selected to be part of the track team who were responsible for putting the starting blocks and lane numbers out for all of the races. I found myself in the starting tunnel when Jessica Ennis came out to run her record-breaking 100m hurdles time.
I was trackside and I hadn’t paid a thing. I got to see the best in the sport compete. The atmosphere at the whole Olympics was fantastic but the atmosphere in the ‘cauldron’ Olympic Stadium was like nothing I have had or ever will experience again. Over 80,000 people but it was not a football stadium atmosphere. Super Saturday came and went and on the second weekend there was Mo Farah’s 5000m where he could do the double. Some of the finals, I got to watch whilst sitting next to the finish line and this race I watched from the final tunnel. The noise followed Mo around the track getting louder with every lap. I still get goosebumps from remembering watching him make history.
Since then, I have continued to be part of ‘Track Team 500’ and enjoy helping at major events as well as local events and of course my local club. Who knows what will happen next?