from Sporting Life



23 May 2004

Tracey Morris is hoping for a quieter existence after Sunday's BUPA Great Manchester Run - until August at least.

Morris received huge media exposure after she became the first Briton to finish at the Flora London Marathon last month to book a place in the Great Britain Olympic team for Athens - despite only competing in the race once before, five years earlier as a fun-runner.

She was the main focus of attention again on Sunday in her first race since her London exploits but with foreign runners occupying eight of the top 10 positions, Morris finished 11th, the third Briton across the line behind eighth-place finisher Liz Yelling and Louise Damen in 10th.

Morris believes the result might allow her to have a lower profile as she prepares for the Games.

Morris said: "Obviously I am now hoping having run here, I will stop being the centre of attraction and I will now be able to get on preparing for the Olympics."

Morris never expected herself to figure among the medals in Manchester, where Olympic 5,000 metres silver medallist Sonia O'Sullivan won from African stars Berhane Adere and Margaret Okayo, the winner of the London Marathon.

But she is still coming to terms with what has been an incredible last few weeks.

"I still don't think of myself as an Olympic athlete," Morris added.

"But as the time gets nearer, that will change as I get really involved in the build-up to Athens."

Morris is now looking towards a spell of warm-weather training abroad to ensure she is fully prepared for the heat and humidity of Greece.

She said: "I'm still not sure where I am going, but I don't want to go to altitude as I have never done that before, and don't know whether it will be beneficial."

The now part-time optician has spoken to UK Athletics coaching supremo Max Jones and is planning to make a decision very shortly.

Morris' race time was 33 minutes 53 seconds, half a minute shy of the personal best she ran in nearby Salford earlier this year.

But the Manchester course was much tougher and, along with the bright sunshine, slowed not only herself but everyone in the 16,000-strong field.

Morris said: "It's not the fastest 10k I've ever done, but it was a good race all the same.

"The course was a little windy and twisted and turned, so it affected your stride a little."

Morris, who only became a serious club athlete 18 months ago, admits she is still learning each and every day about competing at a much higher level.

She said: "I don't have a marker for 10k, so I don't know if it is the type of time I should be doing.

"It was hard, as I haven't done any speed work. All of my work has been just mileage, so running against this field was a little daunting.

"To improve I need to include more speed work in my training, but that will come.

"It was nice for people to recognise me and there was quite a few people shouting my name."

Then she joked: "My profile isn't as big as people think yet. I had a customer in the shop asking 'if that runner girl' had gone to Athens yet!"