Emile Cairess: Up-and-coming talent with GB honours in his sights

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Emile Cairess: Up-and-coming talent with GB honours in his sights

emile cairess bmc

For twelve laps, it had been nip and tuck. Some of the country’s best up-and-coming talent jostled and surged, vying for a top-two spot that would put them in the driving seat for this summer’s European U23 Championships

Strung out behind the pacemaker for the opening six laps, West, Dever, Rush, Olley and Cairess gapped Surafel and got away with one lap to run.

It had been the hotly-anticipated ding-dong with none of the leading protagonists prepared to give an inch.

Behind Rush, the quartet waited. Once more into the breeze and friends and fans and runners still to race lined lane three to support.

A stride’s length was all that separated the flying five as the final 200m approached. Dever was the first to make a move. West followed.

And then came the devastating kick from Cairess.

Rising to prominence

Only those in the running know will have been aware of Emile Cairess at the start of the year.

The 19-year-old’s most noteworthy run came when he bagged silver at the English Schools Track and Field Championships in 2016.

He’d enjoyed top-10 finishes at national cross country championships before that and had middle-distance bests that ranked him inside the UK top-20 as a junior.

Still, Emile’s forward leap in 2017 has been substantial.

He came to prominence when he won the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Cross Country “B” race back in February – in his first year.

Since then, the Bradford-born runner has gone on to claim bronze at the BUCS 5,000m champs – just 0.52 seconds adrift of St Mary’s teammate Ellis Cross in first – before making that break away at the British Milers’ Club meet a few weeks ago to win the trial race in 13:59.82.

‘I had faith in my kick because I’d been able to open up a gap when I went for it in Bedford – but they were able to close because I ran out of gas,’ says Emile.

‘If I’d left it later that day, then the race might’ve gone my way.’

Racing beyond expectations

The rapid turn of pace is the sort every runner wishes they had. Emile covered the last lap in 57 seconds and final 200m in 27 seconds.

Just as impressive, in a way, is the fact he gave the leader a 5m lead at the 200m point and still came out on top.

‘The trials at Sportcity were always an aim – but not because they were the trials but because it was just an opportunity to run a good time,’ says the Leeds City runner.


‘I didn’t really know what to expect. I thought I might be able to run 14 minutes in an even-paced race, so the time was a surprise to me.

‘I never expected to be in a position where I could potentially qualify for the European U23s.’

While falling just short of the 13:55.00 qualifying time, the carrot has well and truly been dangled.

Emile plans to go to Herouville, France next week to try and run the time before the 18 June cut off. Having taken 31 seconds off his best already this year, what’s another four next week?

Maintaining the right balance

Reflecting on his first year at St Mary’s University studying Sports Science, Emile says the competitive set-up, increase in mileage and slowly, slowly approach of his coach, Phil Townsend, have been behind his success in 2017.

‘My coach, Phil, is very cautious with me and is gradually increasing everything at a manageable rate,’ says Emile. ‘I’ve gone from around 50 miles/week on average to around 65 miles/week, going up to 70-75 in training blocks.

‘I’ve also increased my sessions from 20 minutes work to 25 minutes. The sessions at uni are more intense than at home as they can get competitive at times.

‘I train in Mick Woods’ group twice a week and he is always willing to offer advice whenever I’m in need.’

The impact of increased mileage on student athletes comes as no surprise – and the key now is maintaining the right balance in the quest for new heights.

With that trusty kick finish in his locker and the momentum gathering, the surprising prospect of international honours this summer on the track is now tantalisingly close.

Words by Chris Rainsford
Image from Emile Cairess