Chris Jones is the man who has helped enable Fionnuala Britton to be the first woman ever to win back-to-back European Cross Country titles, and the marathon is already ear-marked as Britton’s ultimate distance.
Following her recent success he said “I’ve no doubt she’d run a very, very fast half marathon right now,” he says, “and her long-term future is in the marathon, for sure. But by that I mean the Rio Olympics, in 2016, not next year, or the year after. She won’t rush into it. But if you consider her training load right now, the fact she seldom runs less than 95 miles a week, and on average 120 miles a week, with the long runs, we’re already preparing to run a marathon, just without the specific marathon work.”
Jones took charge of Britton’s coaching 2 years ago, after the 2010 European Championships in Barcelona, and he is convinced there is still considerable improvements to come in her performances on the track, with plenty of unfinished business in cross country, too – and that’s what the next two years are all about.
“We’ve the World Cross Country in Poland coming up in March, which has gone every two years now, but is important, and will actually be the big race for Fionnuala this season. Whether it’s a top 10, the best European, whatever, she’s got to keep improving, has got to be competitive there as well. Her confidence is coming on all the time too, and we will see more of that on the track. This summer was her first serious year running the 10,000 metres, and she understands the event much more already. I also think she can go sub-15 minutes for 5,000m. That will be the focus for the World Championships in Moscow, next summer. I want to see more consistent growth over 5,000m, and then for 2014, really target the European Championship 10,000m and 5,000m in Zurich. That’s the two-year goal.”
Britton will compete in the World Cross Country,in Bydgoszcz on March 24th, the Brussels international on Sunday week, and also the Great Edinburgh Cross Country, on January 5th.
Jones has played a key role in taking Britton’s career to this level, and his involvement will be crucial to ensuring Britton maximises her talents in major championships over the next 4 years.