Ross Skelton clocked the fastest five-mile road time by an under-23 athlete in Great Britain this year - and said afterwards he could’ve gone even quicker.
The St Leonards-based Brighton Phoenix athlete smashed the course record in the Hastings Runners Five-Mile Race on Sunday morning with a blistering run of 24:33, which also ranks seventh on the senior men’s list.
He said: “I knew I was going to go sub-25 (minutes), but I didn’t think I was going to go quite that fast. If I had run quicker in the middle section, I still think there’s 10, 20 seconds to play with.”
Skelton pulled clear in the closing stages to win by eight seconds from American talent Christopher Zablocki, of Chichester Runners, who himself was well inside the previous course best.
The pair ran 4:40 for the first mile and 4:45 for the second with the breeze behind them, and Skelton clocked 4:40 again for the final mile.
“I knew I was in good shape, but I knew I would have my work cut out because everyone was saying he (Zablocki) has run 2:15 for the marathon,” continued Skelton, who went into the race suspecting he may be a bit tired following quite a fast track session with his coach Jon Bigg - Sally Gunnell’s husband - during the preceding week.
“I knew he was going to try and break me in the first two miles because he’s not a kicker so I knew if I was there with a mile to go I was going to win it.”
Skelton says the result is a big step in the right direction ahead of his appearance in a high class 1,500m event at Sportcity in Manchester this weekend.
“I’m hoping to run a fast time there and that would set me up nicely for the track season,” he went on. “If you run 14:15 (in the 5,000m) you get an invite to the (British) Trials so that’s in the back of my head, but I’ve not run a 5,000m yet so I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself.
“For this year, if I can get to the Trials that will be a great step for me, and I want to try and run a low 14 for the 5,000m on the track.”
If I had run quicker in the middle section, I still think there’s 10, 20 seconds to play with.Ross Skelton
Skelton ran a 10k PB of 30:55 in coming fifth at the Brighton 10K last month and says he is in the form of his life at present.
“This is definitely the best shape I think I’ve ever been in,” he said. “The time I ran on Sunday is the equivalent of running sub-30 (for a 10K) and that would put me top five in the country as an under-23.
“I’ve been with Jon for two years and since I’ve moved to him that has been the biggest change for me.
“It’s not all about smashing it every week; it’s about maintaining a good amount of mileage you can cope with and just doing the right things - not over-training, resting, eating healthily, strength and conditioning, and having a balanced lifestyle.”
Skelton, who celebrated his 23rd birthday on Wednesday, is likely to step up in distance as his career progresses, but for now is concentrating on the 5-10k region.
“5,000m to 10k is my distance at the moment,” he added. “I think I will progress to the long distances, but (for now) it’s all about doing short distances to keep speed.
“For any athlete that steps onto the track the goal is to go to the Olympic Games. I’m still quite young and I definitely want to go to the Olympics for the marathon, but it’s still quite early yet.”
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