Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and

Nick Goolab - The Revelation of the UK Cross Country Season 2008/2009

by Alastair Aitken

writes Alastair Aitken.
   I first spoke to him after last year's Middlesex Junior cross country Championships when, he fought out a close battle with Highgate's, North of Thames cross country Champion Saningo Martyn, son of Highgate marathon runner Nicky Martyn.
   It was 2009 that Nick Goolab had his significant breakthrough.

   I talked to him again at the National road relays at Sutton for Running in London "Yes, I had a major breakthrough. After the last track season, which was really bad, I took a break and started from scratch again. In my break I just did ordinary running for a bit to get the enjoyment back in there. I started doing sessions with STEVE SHARPE. I moved from London to Birmingham University and trained with Steve again. Bud Baldaro is there and a good motivator but it has been Steve who has been the major influence in my training'
   Looking back now, despite Nick Goolab running a good race in Lisbon on the 1st of February, he was considered a dark horse for the National Junior Championships to be held later that month at Parliament Hill Fields. First year junior Ronnie Sparke, the Southern Champion was a danger, Ben Hunter loves Parliament Hill  and there was Phil Bernsten, Mitch Goose and Simon Horsfield to contend with.
   ' I remember going off, not very fast up Parliament Hill. I took it easy for the first K' or so. I was in the main group and I was running well and felt I was jogging and not making much of an effort, it felt really weird then. On the start of the second lap I thought, well as I felt good, I might as well put some injection in and break up the group a bit. Mitch Goose took the lead for a bit. Half way through the second lap he pulled out with cramp in his calves. Then there was just me and Ben Hunter. I had been beating Ben for a while so I thought, as we raced side by side, I had the idea I could win the race. I waited till a stretch where it was quite dry and put in a massive burst and gap opened up quickly.' (Under 20 National 2009 1 Nick Goolab 34:09; 2 Ben Hunter 34:27; 3 Ronnie Sparke 34:38).
    I pointed out that for Mick McLeod winning the senior National he told me for my Athletics Weekly article he was 'Over the Moon' to do that. That must have been similar feelings for Nick Goolab winning the National Junior!
    ' When I was younger I used to run the National and I would be nowhere and I used to think' What's it like to be up there?' To actually be there! Coming down Parliament Hill with the crowds clapping and your legs really moving and you feel good.You make that left turn. You can see the finish, there it is in the bag. I have done it. It is an amazing thing to do and a nice feeling to cross the line first.'
   That gave Nick the confidence to run well in the UK Cross Challenge/Inter-Counties on March the 7th.
   'Steve said to me before the race. I don't care where you finish, as long as you are in the top six and then you are on the plane to Jordan, that is the main thing.'
'The race went off again and I was in the leading group. After about 1k' I felt again it was really easy for me. I thought I might as well do it on my terms and went to the front. Nobody tried to come with me' (1 Nick Gooloab 25:40; 2 James Wilkinson 25:56, 3 Simon Horsfield 26:01.)
   Regarding the World cross country Championships, obviously Nick was not well and had to drop out in the race
   ' I was running in the race, not very fast but, my legs were bad, my  chest was tightening. It was the most  uncomfortable feeling I have ever had and I did not know what went wrong then. Two days later, I came down with a stomach bug. It might have been the altitude as well. I am not sure'
   Mike Barratt, a Class international and veteran in his day and an important man with Ealing, Southall & Middlesex, pointed out to me that the only runner he felt really prospered by leaving Ealing was Nick Goolab. The one runner to make a success by doing that.
   ' I used to have this old coach in Ealing called Steve Mann and, there were two other girls he coached and they left but done nothing since. Shugri Omar joined Belgrave from Ealing but you don't hear of him anymore. I have gone to Belgrave and shot up. To run in the Belgrave first team you have got to work hard with such people as Simon, Neil Speight, and Muhare in the team. As a junior trying to compete with seniors is going to help me I am sure. Steve Sharpe helps my sessions, tailoring them for me. He is clever doing that and reduces my sessions, as opposed to his that are longer but they are still quite fast. Being with Steve has really helped me out"

Alastair Aitken

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