Hard work starts now for Ellis Cross as he gears up for return to ‘favourite race’ at Vitality London 10,000
- Aldershot, Farnham & District AC athlete shocked running world by beating Sir Mo Farah in 2022 edition
- Cross used running to support mental health amid increased status
- Cross supports #DoItForYou campaign to get people active for their wellbeing
Ellis Cross, the self-styled club runner who defeated the legendary Sir Mo Farah at last year’s Vitality London 10,000, admits his life was turned upside down by his unforgettable victory but the challenge of defending his title at this year’s event on Sunday 24 September is enabling him to re-focus once again.
Cross made waves in the world of athletics when he defeated multiple World and Olympic champion Farah at last year’s event, catapulting him into the hearts and minds of media, both here and abroad.
When the 26-year-old took to the Start Line at last year’s Vitality London 10,000, little did he realise that within 30 minutes he would become a man in demand – something he certainly was not prepared for. His win over Farah saw him appear on breakfast television, in national newspapers and go viral on social media.
The experience was something new for Cross and he admits he found it something of a whirlwind. Since then, he has continued to slowly build on his stunning win, away from the limelight. He represented Great Britain at last December’s European Cross Country Championships and this year ran a personal best for 10,000m on the track of 28:27:01.
Cross is now gearing up for the 2023 Vitality London 10,000, an event he describes as his ‘favourite race’, on Sunday 24 September with a three-week training camp in the French Pyrenees before returning to run his first race of the season at The Big Half on Sunday 3 September.
“I am scrambling to get as fit as possible now, the hard work is well underway,” said the Aldershot, Farnham & District AC athlete, who will be competing in the Club Competition in 2023.
“Getting onto the Start Line this year will be a special feeling as 2022 was a moment that I can look back on with very fond memories. I have always loved racing and even before last year’s result it was always my favourite race. I was reminiscing recently as the one-year anniversary flashed up on my social media. In hindsight, I was caught up in the moment last year and I was going with the flow. It was too much to appreciate at the time but that has changed now. It was an insane moment. I thought I was turning up for another race, and it changed a great deal afterwards.”
Participants in the 2023 Vitality London 10,000 are being encouraged to get active for their mental health and wellbeing and to #DoItForYou, completing the distance on the spectacular course through central London which takes in some of the capital’s most famous landmarks.
The much-publicised mental health benefits of activity include improving self-esteem, stimulating chemical changes in the brain to boost mood, improving sleep and managing stress and anxiety.
This was true for Cross after his phenomenal run in 2022, and he said the amount of media attention and increased demand for interviews impacted his training pattern and he found he was able to de-contract after lacing up his trainers.
“I had a lot of friends and family around me afterwards which I needed because there was so much happening. I tried to enjoy it as the publicity was good for the sport which matters but I was stressed, and it did hinder my training as I had some seriously busy days. My friends and partner would travel with me to TV interviews, and I needed that help.
“I have often run for my mental health and wellbeing. I find it very noticeable if I must take a forced rest day with a little injury or niggle or a life commitment. That impacts my mood quite significantly and when I start the day off with that social impact it has a massive positive impact on me. Running is my way away from stress and it clears my head so much. Being close to nature and being able to connect with the outside world is a real relief at times, and I am grateful I can tap into that.”
Cross has encouraged those considering whether to get active to use their social networks and make what may seem a challenge into an inclusive experience.
“I would always encourage giving running a go. It can feel tough, but it does get easier. I would say involve your social networks as that enhances my experience. I feel good during – as it is a chance to clear my head and compartmentalise – and afterwards – as I have been active and worked my body. My training partners are now my friends and being able to talk while running is great.
“I want to make sure I remember that when I run this year. I have never felt pressure before and on the London streets I will be running with the support of the crowd which is a massive driver. I want to get stuck in and have a good performance. I want to run well and we will see how that goes.”
The 2023 event will once again offer a team competition for registered running clubs, with separate prize funds for men and women, with a prize pot of £5,800 with £1,500 to each winning team.