One of the defining moments of this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon was Hayley Carruthers’ heroic finish. Just a metre or two before the finish line, the elite runner collapsed, and a nation watched, heart in mouth, as she clawed her way over it to achieve the phenomenal time of 2:33:59.
An incredible achievement in itself, but all the more awe-inspiring when you realise that Hayley only started running three years ago! The full-time NHS radiographer was persuaded to go for a run by a friend, and she enjoyed it so much, she just kept going.
Women’s Running spoke to her, and her coach Dan Robinson, the day after the Marathon to find out how she was holding up.
WR: How are you feeling?
Hayley: Tired! Tired and overwhelmed. But generally very positive.
WR: Tell us about yesterday. How do you feel now the dust has settled?
Hayley: At the end of the day, it’s a 3minute PB, so I’m still very pleased to run it, but it was definitely the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do.
I just felt like that when I got to that point, my mind was telling my legs to go but there was absolutely no communication left; it just wasn’t happening. But there are so many things I can be proud of – I didn’t realise I could push myself that hard. It’s taught me so many lessons about running.
WR: And how has today been?
Hayley: I’ve got no words for today! I’ve not heard a single negative thing to say, everyone has been so supportive, it’s been overwhelming.
WR: What were you hoping before you ran the race?
Hayley: I was hoping to PB to get the world qualifying time of 2.31, but I think the way I ran wasn’t the most sensible. I started off too quickly and got carried away. I wanted to race against the best marathon runners in the world, and I have huge respect for the athletes who finished ahead of me. I’ve spoken to a couple of them today to congratulate them, I hope we can all work together in the future, to get faster together.
You can never have a bad race, there’s always something to learn from it. It’s made me more determined to improve and to carry on enjoying it.
WR: What are you aiming for next?
Dan: That’s up to me! There’s a 10,000 trial in the summer, which we’ll have a look at, and make some decisions based on that. 10,000 metres is even more tough, competition-wise, than the marathon.
Hayley: Every athlete’s dream is to go to the Olympics. To be in a situation where I’m now racing against the best… I absolutely love racing at that level. With the marathon, it may not be the time I went out for but the outcome feels positive to me. Even though it wasn’t the time I wanted, I’m still very new, so there’s lots of time for me to learn and improve.
WR: How do you manage to fit in your training around your full-time job?
Hayley: I train at 5 in the morning and at 5pm after work. During the week I’m fairly useless. I try and sleep as much as I can to make sure I’m looking after my patients well and looking after myself.
WR: When’s your next run?
Hayley: Not for a long time!
Hayley: I’ll take a few days’ break! I’m not running for longer than five minutes, though.
Dan: Stick a zero on it!
At this point, WR leaves Dan and Hayley to argue among themselves. Look out for a longer interview with the incredible Hayley in the magazine in a future issue. We. Are. In. Awe.