13th June 2019


T20 middle distance specialist Hannah Taunton (coach: Charlotte Fisher; club: Taunton) wants to continue to lower her times across the 3000m and the 1500m as she looks to continue her strong start to 2019.

In her first races of the season, the 28-year-old achieved personal best times over the distances of 10:11.00 and 4:45.24 respectively, moving her to the top of the British rankings.

Showing such good form early in the season is a big sign that she is heading in the right direction in her development and hopes she will be able to see more rewards from the training she is putting in.

She said: “At the start of the season, I ran a 12 second personal best for 3,000m, which I followed up with a two-second PB for 1500m. When it came to the 3000m, I was nervous as on the day it was really hot.

“I followed my coach’s advice and started sprinting in the last lap. I was very pleased to get such a big PB for 3,000m and also for my 1500m. Both were my first races this season for the distance.

“I have been doing lots of speed sessions on the track with 200m and 800m reps and also work on roads and grass in the winter, where I do longer races. I had a massive PB in the Taunton Half Marathon in April, where I finished as the first lady home in 78:25, which was a two-minute 25 seconds Distance PB.

“Over 10K, I hit 36:22 for a 19-seconds distance best and my 5K parkrun time of 17.21 is an improvement of 14 seconds.”

Backing up that strong winter training, Taunton recently enjoyed success internationally in Grosseto, Italy, as she clocked a  lifetime best of 2:22.11 over 800m as she finished in fourth position, before adding another 1500m lifetime best of 4:44.91.

That was racing in the T20 classification, but when she competes in the UK, she predominantly races against athletes who do not have an intellectual impairment, or any form of disability. Taunton admits that this can cause problems understanding instructions from officials but has not let it put her off performing at top level.

She hopes that competing internationally is something that she will have the opportunity to do more often, following on from Grosseto and the WPA Grand Prix in Dubai last year.

“Dubai was very exciting, and I had lots of new experiences. I’d never been on such a long plane journey before, it was strange hearing lots of different languages being spoken, even when we were warming up before a race and seeing people dressed differently.

“I felt proud taking part and was thrilled to win two gold medals in the 1500m and 800m races in the T20 classification.

“All of the races I run in this country are with people who do not have learning difficulties. But within the T20 classification, I am currently number one in the country for 1500m and 800m. I have to listen very hard for instructions at beginning of races but I find it easier to be shown how to do things than to listen.

“Most people don’t realise that I have a learning disability, until they get to know me, because I don’t have a physical disability. I find it very hard when someone speaks to a whole group as I don’t always understand and then it is embarrassing to ask in front of everyone. I prefer to have things written down in an e-mail or text as I have to time to think about it or ask someone to explain it,” she added.

Taunton has earned herself a spot on the British Athletics Paralympic Futures Academy Programme, supporting the athletes that have the opportunity to win medals at future Paralympic Games and World Para Athletics World and European Championships.

She feels that being a part of the programme has helped her develop herself and her running which has enabled her to highlight her progression as she has moved through the season.

“I’ve come a long way from when I was noticed in my first bleep test in the gym at secondary school. I joined the cross country club and then a local athletics club, Taunton AC, when I was 13 and I’ve competed for them ever since.

“I feel proud that I have been chosen to be part of this [futures] group. I have become more independent and have made good decisions regarding nutrition and being more prepared for races. On futures, I have enjoyed meeting new people and sharing new experiences with them.”

Photo credit: Marco Mantovani/FISPES