From the age of 11, Derek Hawkins has dreamt of representing his home country at a multi-sport event like the Commonwealth Games.
Now 24 years old and working at his local supermarket, this Kilbarchan athlete is set to achieve his ambition when he runs the Men’s Marathon at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games this summer.
Incredibly, Derek only made his marathon debut in 2012 – when he ran five minutes faster than the Commonwealth Games qualifying standard. He was the first British athlete to cross the finishing line at last year’s London Marathon, and boldly turned down the World Championships in Moscow so he could fully prepare for Glasgow 2014.
This preparation includes five weeks of gruelling altitude training in Colorado next month.
“Being able to train at altitude makes it easier to come down to sea level and run fast, without using the same amount of energy” he says. “I’ve found in the past (I’ve been to Kenya twice before) that it really improved my performances, so hopefully I can go to the Games fitter than I’ve ever been.”
Taking place on 27 July 2014, the Glasgow 2014 Marathon will start and finish in Glasgow Green, with amazing views of landmarks along the way. Spectators won’t require a ticket, as it is one of three free events taking place in the city along with the Cycling road competitions.
“The Marathon will be particularly exciting for the younger ones, who can go along for free and watch some of the world’s best athletes run through the streets of Glasgow” says Derek. “It’s a good way for them to be inspired to get into the sport.”
Running against athletes from the likes of Kenya and Uganda, Derek knows how tough the competition will be at the Games. However, he believes the cheering Scottish spectators could give him the edge.
“The atmosphere and noise that will be generated will help, especially in the last five or six miles when the race really starts to hurt. The crowd’s support will pull the home athletes into the finish!”