Call it a three-peat. Brooks Beast Garrett Health clinched his third straight win at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country International Challenge today, this time in the men’s 8-kilometer run. Garrett previously won the 4K in 2015 and 2014.
This year, he ran 25 minutes, 29 seconds on the U.S. National Team to beat runner up Mo Farah of Great Britain who clocked 25:31. His gold medal is his second in two months, as he recently won the USATF Club Cross Country Championships in San Francisco last month. Also in Edinburgh, Beast teammate Riley Masters ran on the U.S. 4×1-kilometer relay team, and Brooks Runner Cally Macumber of the Hansons-Brooks Original Distance Project (ODP) also spiked up in the women’s 6-kilometer run. During her rookie year as a professional, this was Macumber’s first appearance on a U.S. team. Masters ran in the mixed relay last year.
Relive the glory in this Q&A with Garrett to learn more about his race and his outlook on the year. And be sure to give him a Twitter high five at @_garrettheath.
Describe taking the lead and winning the 8K. What was it like and do you remember any clear thoughts that came through your head in that final stretch?
The whole race was a bit of a blur, but I can remember that last 1.5-kilometer lap pretty clearly. I took the lead around 1K to go and tried to make a long sustained push from there all the way to the finish. I had felt fairly comfortable to that point with the pace and knew that I didn’t want it coming down to a final sprint finish against a guy like Mo. One of my American teammates, Scott Fauble, had also just made a surge to the front next to me, and just seeing that got me kind of fired up to really get things rolling as well.
From that point on, I can vividly remember running through the crowds and just hearing people screaming, “kick him down, Mo!” Sometimes you can gauge where people are at behind you based on the crowd reaction as you pass them, so I just kept thinking that he was right behind me waiting to kick me down in that last straightaway. Occasionally, I would hear one of my American teammates out on course cheering though as well and would get a short boost of energy to keep pushing. It wasn’t until I slipped out in the mud on the final stream crossing that I had a chance to steal a quick glance back and see that I had a stride or two on him, just as he followed suit and slipped out in the mud there as well. That gave me one last little adrenaline rush to put in everything I had and kick it home for those last 200 meters. It was impossible to tell where he was behind me at that point, but I honestly just kept thinking all the way in that he was about to come flying by me. I guess it’s just hard to visualize anything else after seeing his blazing fast kick so many times. Finally with about 20 meters left, I stole another glance over my shoulder (basically, what every runner knows you should never do) and saw that I had a gap. I really couldn’t believe it.
What does this win mean to you? Does it affect your training or how you’re viewing the year?
I absolutely love cross country and to get another win over there in Edinburgh at that race against a guy like Mo really did mean a lot. I’m not disillusioned in thinking that it automatically means anything else will come easier now heading into the Olympics and Olympic trials this year, but it is a huge boost of confidence any time you can take down a double Olympic champion, regardless of the race.
My training plan and view for the year will remain fairly similar coming off this race, but as typically much more of a middle distance guy, it has been reassuring for my aspirations in the longer distances this year to see both this race in Edinburgh and the 10K at Club Cross Country Nationals go so well. It gives me confidence that our training is working and that I’ll be able to translate that into some more personal records and good results on the track this outdoor season.
Does beating Mo mean much, or were you more just running your own race and that happened to be the result?
I’d be lying if I said it didn’t mean a lot. Obviously, any time a guy like that is in the race, everyone is marking him. You see the same thing on the track any time he races, with other countries even working together at times to try and break him. His record speaks for itself and I have a lot of respect for the way he handled losing this weekend. He’s clearly got much bigger races on the horizon later this year, but any loss for a guy who’s been as successful as he has is a surprise.
What is special about Edinburgh for you?
I can’t put a finger on it, but there’s just something about that race and course that’s special for me. I have more confidence there than I have anywhere else in the world. I’m not sure if it’s the cold, the mud, the stream crossings or what, but I do love cross country and the added element of strategy that comes with it. Track times mean nothing out there. And, in XC, tactics are completely different from course to course and from race to race. Racers and spectators alike often have much less of an idea of what to expect as compared to track racing. This is what makes cross country so unpredictable and exciting. I only wish the season for it was longer.
You’ve said you like the cold, the wet and the mud before. Why? Does it help you, do you think?
I like to think that my upbringing in the cold winters of the Midwest where we raced in snow for Footlocker Cross Country Regionals in Kenosha, Wis., and cross country skied the trails through 30-degrees below zero temperatures (with windchill) in Mesabi, Minn., for some state ski meets, somehow gives me an advantage. I don’t know if it’s real, but mentally believing something is half the battle anyway, right? I do believe that having these experiences growing up has helped prepare me for how the body responds differently racing in these conditions and makes the mid-30s F and rainy weather that sometimes comes with cross country seem more bearable. I also think that growing up in an area in the Mississippi River Valley where we ran the hills and mud a lot in high school training helped me in being prepared for the conditions that oftentimes exist in Edinburgh.
What’s next in running and life this year?
For life, lots of training, eating, and sleeping coming up. I’m going to be transitioning over to indoor track now where I’m planning to run a 3K at the JDL Fast Track meet in North Carolina and a mile at the Millrose Games in New York City. From there, I’ll be focused on trying to make the U.S. National Team for indoors in Portland, Ore., before really gearing up for the big push for Rio this outdoor season.
*Photo from 2015