Tracey Morris—How a Fun Runner Qualified for the British Olympic Team

It was probably the biggest surprise of all the spring marathons this season. In last Sunday’s London Marathon an athlete finished tenth who had trained like a fun runner just four months earlier. Not only did Tracey Morris finish tenth in London. By doing so she improved her personal best of 3:39:21 by more than an hour to 2:33:52. But that was not the end of the story: Tracey Morris was the fastest British runner in London and as she beat the Olympic qualifying time she was officially nominated for the British Olympic team on the next day.

It was a sensation—and Tracey Morris’ photo appeared on a large number of front pages on Monday morning. “When I saw all these papers with my photo I asked myself: why me?”, Tracey Morris, a 36 year-old from Leeds, explained during a press conference in London.

At school Tracey used to run middle distance races. Sebastian Coe was her idol. In recent years she admired Paula Radcliffe—but without ever dreaming of running together with her in the Olympic marathon. Originally Tracey had one goal: Being 30 years old she wanted to run the London Marathon. She did this and then continued running. But she did not train more often than three to four times per week and covered distances of only five miles.

After she had joined an athletics club Tracey Morris increased her mile average. But it was not until after Christmas that the runner from Leeds decided to start with some serious training. She then ran twice a day, before and after work. By doing so she covered between 70 and 86 miles per week, which still is very little in comparison to a professional marathon runner. “Especially in March and April I felt really tired because of the training and the work in between.” Tracey works full time for an optician company.

“To qualify for the Olympic Games was like a shock to me,” Tracey Morris explained. When her boss saw all the photos on the front pages of the papers on Monday he left a message on her mailbox. “He congratulated me and said that he would support me in my preparations for Athens.”

Maybe Tracey will get extra days off for her training. “I somehow have to try to train in warm conditions. The training for London was often in wind and rain—and now I have to run in the heat of Athens.” Asked about her goals at the Olympics Tracey said: “I have no idea what is possible for me in Athens.”