2012 is a big year for Newcastle athlete Freya Murray

PUBLISHED: 15:08 22 February 2012 | UPDATED: 21:05 20 February 2013

2012 is a big year for Newcastle athlete Freya Murray

2012 is a big year for Newcastle athlete Freya Murray

Newcastle's Freya Murray is planning to move from Olympic rings to wedding rings, as Steve Gibbs reports

Theres nothing like a challenge to focus the mind but even by Olympians standards Freya Murray appears to have set herself a particularly formidable task. Already established as an international long distance and cross-county runner, she has now set her sights on running the first two marathons of her life in 2012.

The first will be the London Marathon, next month. The second, she hopes, will be the Olympic marathon. Showing such maturity and confidence in your own ability surely suggests that success is just around the corner?

It may seem a bit of a big ask, but if I dont give it a go Ill never know, she says with impressive nonchalance. Id rather give it a shot, and hopefully it will work out well, but if it doesnt it was still my first marathon. If it had worked out differently, it would have been nice to have gone in to London having run a few, but Ill take it as it comes.

Its always been in my plans, and Ive always thought that I want to move up to the marathon, so it was more a matter of when not if. Its very exciting, but it is a long way, admits the 28-year-old Scot who now lives and works in Newcastle.

Murray began her athletics life as a 1500 metre runner and has periodically stepped up in distance throughout her career. Every move has been like a stepping stone, she says. I didnt start out, aged eight, thinking oh, I want to be a marathon runner. Every step has felt right and I have enjoyed every longer distance.

Any success in 2012 will be a step closer to erasing the memories of a frustrating 2011, a year blighted by an Achilles injury but which, fortunately, finished on a high with Murray part of the Great Britain squad which won the team gold medal at the European Cross Country Championships in Slovenia.

Last year just seemed to go from one problem to the next so it was nice to get a consistent few months of training in, and building up to what will hopefully be a good 2012. The rest of the year had been a bit frustrating. Now hopefully its onwards and upwards.

Murrays Olympic year started with a fifth place at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country race and a performance she described as a solid run, but I would have liked to have finished a few places higher up. That was immediately followed by a warm-weather, altitude training camp in Kenya, with further camps planned at the world-renowned Boulder facility in Colorado.

All the while, Murray continues to juggle an elite athletics career with the normality of a day job as a structural engineer for Cundall.

I love working in Newcastle, its a really friendly city and Im lucky that my work colleagues are very supportive. Ive got a really good set-up, where Im working five hours a day, Monday to Friday. They let me have time off but sometimes having a concentrated block of training can help take you on that little bit further.

Being able to have those times when I am a full-time athlete, but also having a routine when I am at home, seems to work well. Its just a balancing act, I suppose. So many amazing athletes in the past had to work full-time, and (1988 Olympic 1500 metre silver medallist) Peter Elliott said theres two 5.30s in every day, so if you want to do it, theres always a way.

If youre the kind of person who wants to achieve success at the Olympics, youre the kind of person who has the determination
to get up at half past five in the morning.

An Olympic medal would be the ultimate justification of such sacrifice, and also lift both the personal and collective profiles of British athletes. I love competing in front of a home crowd, Freya adds. Its such a great opportunity to get people involved in all sports. Hopefully people will see the Olympics and theyll be inspired.

I know I was inspired by watching great athletes when I was younger. You learn so much from sport, it can be totally life-changing. I would never have had half the opportunities Ive had, in places Ive been and people Ive met and so many general life experiences.

Appropriately, her Olympic ambitions are simple, whether achieved in the marathon or the 10,000 metre race which she will keep as a fall-back option.

I just want to go out and do myself justice and feel like Ive earned my place and done the best I can do, she says. Hopefully that will be a high position and a good time. As a team, I want us all to feel like weve given it our best shot, and shown British sport, and British athletics, in a positive light.

All of which is perhaps given a welcome degree of perspective by another impending date looming large in Murrays diary a September wedding to fianc Michael Ross. Its a very exciting year Im trying to cram in as much as possible, she concludes with a smile.

September 29th is the big day, so Im really looking forward to that as well. Its nice to have something else positive to look forward to, hopefully after the Olympics.

Married life, like Murrays Olympic dream, may well be a marathon not a sprint.

Do you know an exciting sporting talent from the North East? Tell us their story by emailing neleditor@archant.co.uk.

And dont miss next months North East Life where we will profile another of the regions stars hoping for glory at the Olympic Games.

The print version of this article appeared in the March 2012 issue of North East Life

We can deliver a copy direct to your door order online here

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