30th December 2018


Melissa Courtney (coach: Rob Denmark; club: Poole AC) hopes that she can continue her upward trajectory following the best season of her career so far as she looks ahead to 2019.

A bronze medal in the 1500m at the Commonwealth Games in April kicked off the start of a stellar year for the Poole AC athlete, which was followed by a fifth place finish and personal best in the 5000m at the European Championships in Berlin.

The chance to run in the 5000m Diamond League final in Zurich followed, with her year culminating with a team silver medal and individual eighth place finish at the European Cross Country Championships in Tilburg, the Netherlands.

Reflecting on a stellar year, she said: “2018 has been an amazing year and it’s been a big breakthrough for me, some people would probably say that I’ve come out of nowhere but it’s been a really long and steady progress and this is the first year that it started to show in my performances.

“Winning a Commonwealth Games medal to start the year and being able to do a lap of honour is something that I’ll never forget and it’s been great to continue that form all the way through the year.

“I’ve always wanted to do Euro Cross and to do it as part of that team that was so strong, just to be a part of that was amazing. Last year I got team gold for doing a mile and this year I got team silver for doing around five miles, it’s such a big step up.

“It was proper cross country and it was a long way out of my comfort zone and I showed from my performance in Tilburg and from the trials in Liverpool that I’ve come on such a long way.”

As she does every year, Courtney will be planning her rest day around Christmas Day so that she can enjoy some time with her family and friends.

Given that she rarely is rarely at home every year due to competitions and training camps, she feels it important that she spends time with her family at Christmas.

“I’ve never run on Christmas Day which is perhaps a little bit controversial for an endurance runner, but I always tend to plan my rest day around Christmas Day and this year I’m in London and not in my family home.

“Christmas Day is just about seeing all of your family and I’d rather spend time with them. I’m away on training camps or at competitions for so long and that one day isn’t going to make that much of a difference.

“Plus, I have to have a rest day at some point and I’d rather be able to have that on Christmas Day and enjoy that with them,” she added.

Following the Christmas period, Courtney is straight back into Winter training as she heads away on altitude training in Kenya for one month, before returning to the circuit for her first indoor race of the season.

Altitude training is something that she thrives on and hopes that she can continue to reap the rewards of in 2019 as she bids to make the European Indoors team, and head to the World Championships in Doha.

“I head out to Kenya on January 1 for altitude training so I’m straight back into things in the New Year. I’m out there for four weeks before I head to Germany to race my first race of the new season in the 3000m.

“For me, altitude training makes a huge difference, especially being an endurance runner. I’ve been doing altitude training camps now for four years and I’ve seen such a big benefit from it as an endurance runner in the 5,000m, it really does help.

“Some don’t get as good a response from it but for me, the higher I go the better the response is. I love going out to Kenya because it’s a real back to basics approach because you’re just running, eating and sleeping the whole time.”

Like most Brits, she will be targeting  a place on the team for the World Championships in Doha and hopes that she can carry her good form in 2018 over into the New Year in a bid to make the World Championship team for the first time.

“Hopefully I can carry on what I’ve done this year, next year. It’s been such a good year and I really want to be able to continue that. I don’t want to plateau, I want to be able to keep going upwards in my progression.

“I’m targeting the European Indoors and the World Championships in Doha. If I qualify for the latter, it would be my first world championships and I really want to be a part of that team and get that experience.”