Nick Earl looking to make up for lost time at Run Norwich 2018
- Credit: Archant
After missing out last year, Mark Armstrong speaks to City of Norwich AC member Nick Earl as he looks to reclaim his crown, and course record, at Run Norwich
There was something missing from last year's Run Norwich event.
Thousands of runners took to the streets of Norfolk's capital on a beautiful summer's day like the previous two incarnations, but something didn't feel quite right.
Nick Earl's trademark victory leap was nowhere to be seen.
For the first time the City of Norwich AC member couldn't make the event, which allowed Michael Kallenberg to take his crown in a course record of 31:12.
Earl, who works in Melbourne as a climate scientist, was unable to return for the event and Kallenberg took full advantage.
However, this year promises to be the most exciting contest yet with Earl coming back over for the 2018 edition and looking to reclaim his crown from the Cardiff man.
MORE: How's your training been going? Mark Armstrong's could be going betterSo did Earl feel like he missed out last year?
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'Yes, that would have been a good battle,' said the 33-year-old, who was born and bred in Norwich. 'To run low 31s solo on that course is a solid run and I would have had to dig very deep to challenge him on that day.
'I'm very much looking forward to it (this year). I'm coming home to Norwich a few days earlier, so will hopefully be over jetlag by race day. This has turned into an Earl family event, so I'll have plenty of support from my parents, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews. We'll all be staying at my parents' house in Norwich –the house we grew up in – so sleep may be hard to come by.
'But I love this race, the whole city comes out for it and the atmosphere is electric. I was gutted I couldn't get back for it last year so I'm happy that I managed to get some time off work so that I could come and do it again.'
It's unlikely to be a straight shoot-out between Earl and Kallenberg though. Fellow CONAC member Ash Harrell, second last year, has been in fine form recently, winning the City of Norwich Half Marathon and breaking the course record at the Humpty Dumpty 10K last month.
Adrian Mussett, 46, is also likely to be among the frontrunners.
'Ash is a class act,' added Earl. 'He's put me to the sword many times and is coming into some form having run under 31 minutes. The evergreen Adrian Mussett is also still knocking out some very fast times for 10km. My identical twin brother (Jonny) is also running and he's been making big improvements recently, but I don't he'll be challenging me just yet for the win, but he'll be up there.'
MORE: Age catches up with every runner...but that shouldn't stop us from taking on challengesThe smart money would have to be on Earl though after running 30:03 at the Albert Park 10K in Melbourne and setting a new half marathon personal best of 64:30 at the Gold Coast Half Marathon.
He believes if the conditions are right then the course record might be up for grabs next Sunday.
'Training has been awesome, so I'm in great shape for the race and think I can have a crack at it (the course record).
'I love to race and try to race every weekend and I've been in pretty good form recently - I'm in good shape.'
While Earl knows the course inside out from his victories in 2015 and 2016, he had some wise words of advice when it comes to tackling what can be a tough route.
'It's a tough hilly race so pace yourself,' he said. 'There's nothing worse than getting halfway through and realising that you've over exerted yourself and don't have anything left in the tank for the second half. So don't go off too fast and if you feel good, come home strong.'
But perhaps leave the victory leap to Mr Earl...
Taking the plunge Down Under...
It was only after failing to get into the University of Reading's football team that Nick Earl thought he would make athletics his main focus.
So gutted was he to miss out that he decided to join the university athletics team to see how he got on.
After running 80 minutes in his first ever half marathon in Reading, coming 96th out of 3,000 runners, it revealed he had a bit of potential as an athlete.
The times have continued to tumble ever since and he continued his running passion even after moving Down Under to take up a post as a climate scientist in Melbourne in 2013.
'The Victorian state running scene is amazing,' he said. 'There are loads of great runners, many of which run internationally for Australia, living around here, so the local races are insane.
'The race I did last Sunday was a local league race and was won in 28:52 with six guys going under 29:30. Unfortunately I dropped off this lead pack and missed out on a personal best. Training here is easy for almost the whole year. It's winter now but gets to about 13-15 degrees everyday, so you never have to run in snow or frost. The only time it's tough is when it's 40 degrees in the summer!'
He does admit to missing the Norfolk running scene however.
'I do miss those races. I used to always look up the races in the Norfolk Road running calendar and tick the races that I was going to do. I also miss proper cross-country races because Melbourne is so much dryer, there isn't much mud in the cross-country races here.'
Moving over the other side of the world does appear to have taken Earl's running to the next level.
'I run around 80 miles a week now, so I don't really have time to do conditioning work,' he admitted. 'I think my body is so used to it now that I get conditioning from my running and don't really need to do any more.
'I think if you're running less, you need to do it so that you run with proper form. Also, everyone is different and I know a lot of great runners that do a lot of gym work. I don't know why but I seem to get away without doing it.'