Mark Norman

NOVEMBER 2019: RunBrighton regular, Mark Norman, ran a marathon PB earlier this month in New York with a time of 3hrs12mins… at the age of 57.

I am delighted that Mark has also recently agreed to be an ambassador for RunBrighton this winter.

Mark, first of all, congratulations on a great performance in New York. It’s an iconic marathon. How would you describe the experience?

Thanks Mike.  Pretty mind blowing.  Huge, enthusiastic crowds and the noise coming off the bridge onto First Avenue is spine tingling.  It should be on every marathoner’s wish list.

Have you always been a keen runner, and have you been involved in other sports in the past?

In fact, I started out as a swimmer (butterfly) but quickly realised that I had a bit of a height disadvantage.

I did have a good engine though, so found running long distances quite easy.  I was also lucky enough to train with some of the best long-distance runners around, such as Dave Moorcroft, whilst at Uni.

I gave it up for many years, but had the classic, mid-life crisis at 40, so thought I’d give triathlons a go.  I immediately got the bug at the London Tri, and came fourth in my age group, reinforced by my move to Australia shortly after.  I quickly moved through the distances, with some World Championship top 20 age-group finishes on the way, to Ironman.  I have qualified for the Hawaii Ironman, but not raced it, so that is definitely on my to-do list.

What would you say is your best race distance?

The longer the better!  In fact, I think it’s fair to say that I have never had any speed to lose as I have grown older.

Of all the races you’ve done so far, what has been the highlight?

Definitely New York, but also my first Ironman and, interestingly, Berlin Marathon in 2013 where, due to my having whooping cough, I jogged around with a good mate and just soaked up the experience.

You’ve done several seasons training with RunBrighton. How did that first come about?

Purely by chance, Mike.  I was very keen to join a group and you had your van at the Brighton Sport & Fitness Show on Hove Lawns.  I was struck by how friendly and enthusiastic you were.  So, it was an easy choice.

And how have you found running in a group, as opposed to running on your own?

Oh, much, much better.  The discipline and comradeship on those long runs are invaluable. Running with RunBrighton has also opened up so many new and interesting routes that I’m sure I would never have discovered by myself.

Race preparation and execution is arguably as much mental as physical. What has been your own strategy and experience, as regards focus, commitment, self-belief, and so forth?

First of all, I would say a positive personal trainer (can I name-check Matt at Riptide?) with a consistent training pattern – recognising that not all sessions will work for you.  My coach, Leo, has installed a WIN (‘what’s important now’) approach, which has made a big difference too!

I note that you’ve signed up for our 2020 running holiday in the Algarve. What is it that appeals to you about the trip, which will be your third year in a row?

It’s a wonderful opportunity to live and train like a pro. The facilitates are superb and, if I may say Mike, fun company.

What’s the next key race in your diary, Mark?

Back to Boston Marathon in April – every year I say to Liz, my wife, that it’s my last time… but I have some unfinished business there!

And what are you looking forward to most about the ambassador role?

Firstly, Mike, I’m truly honoured to be asked.  Hopefully to pass on some knowledge and experience and ensure the team runs at the correct pace. (It’s the Long Sunday Run, everyone!)

Mark, thanks very much for taking the time to chat. Well done again on your new marathon PB, and we’re really looking forward to having you on the ambassador team this winter.

By Mike Bannister