How jet-heeled Juliette Watkinson took victory in the Sportlink Grand Prix Series
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Wymondham AC runner Juliette Watkinson talks to Mark Armstrong after being crowned the senior female champion of the Sportlink Grand Prix Series
There can't be a more appropriate nickname in the Norfolk running community than 'Jet', which Juliette Watkinson goes by.
The 37-year-old has been leaving her rivals trailing in her wake in the Sportlink GP Series this year in what has been a breakthrough 12 months for the Wymondham AC member.
But her nickname in fact doesn't have anything to do with her speed, which ranks her as one of the fastest female runners in Norfolk.
It is rather down to an accident she had as a child…
"I fell down the stairs when I was about four years old and couldn't say my name 'Juliette' - it just came out as 'Jet' and it has stuck ever since," she laughed.
However, she came to be known as 'Jet', Juliette has become the woman to beat in the GP Series this year, taking 695 points out of a possible 700 to take victory ahead of Norwich Road Runners Jessica Behan (690) and Wymondham AC's Claire Kent (667).
Juliette took victories at both the Holt 10K and the Humpty Dumpty 10K to set up her championship win but it was a race in which she was beaten that was her 2019 highlight.
"Holt is a lovely race and I really enjoyed the Humpty Dumpty because that was the first time that I went under 40 minutes (for 10K) and it was a really hot day from memory.
"But I think my best race this year though was the Worstead 5M when I tried to stick with Amy Beck (Norwich Road Runners) and got a personal best. I find Amy quite inspiring and to be anywhere near her meant I took a lot of confidence from it.
"Then you've got someone else like Faith Viney (Bure Valley Harriers), who is a brilliant runner.
"I'm not a particularly competitive person but these girls make me want to up my game as well."
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Juliette built on a consistent 2018, which saw her finish third in the series, and her steady improvement continued under the training she receives from Wymondham AC.
"I've not done a great deal different to last year," said Juliette, who also recently won the Southwold 10K in a time of 39:00. "My mileage certainly hasn't gone up drastically but I feel stronger and fitter and I think that's down to the quality of the training I've managed to get at Wymondham.
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"I don't always handle the high mileage very well - I tend to get quite run down but the focus has been on getting quality miles in.
"I tend to do my effort sessions at Wymondham or with friends from the club and get the easy miles in on my own. I love it at Wymondham though - I'm not sure I would have the motivation to get the hard sessions in without the club.
"The camaraderie is so good and I always go home happy after a session with them.
"I think a lot of my success I can put down to the club. They've got some fantastic coaches there."
Juliette has always been from an athletic background but didn't take to running seriously until after she had her two children Amelie, 6, and Kate, 4.
But she claims that it's joining a running club that has seen her make such progress in a short space of time.
"I came to running after my children, who I love dearly, but I think we can all do with a bit of 'me time' sometimes," said Juliette, who works as a paramedic for the East of England Ambulance Trust. "I just manage to switch my mind off when I'm running.
"I'd been doing the same 5K loop around my house and my husband (Kevin) kept badgering me to join a running club.
"So I went along to Wymondham and from the first session I absolutely loved it. I don't think I've ever come away from a session there without a big smile on my face.
"I'm now doing a Leadership in Running course because I want to give something back to the club. I've got so much from them."
Juliette is planning on doing some of the races in the GP Series next year but wants to leave her plans a little fluid at this stage. For the moment at least she is happy to don her Norfolk vest next month in the Inter Counties Cross Country Championships in Oxford.
"I never thought I'd be able to get to the level where I can wear a Norfolk vest and I love doing it," she said. "But as for next year I will pick several races from the GP Series but there are a few other things that I want to do as well."
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