Athlete profile: Keith Gerrard
Sport: Athletics, 10,000m
Hometown: Peel, Isle of Man
Commonwealth Games Achievements:
Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games
Athletics - 10,000m - Men (22nd Position - 29:46.85)
When did you first represent Team Isle of Man at a Commonwealth Games?
My first experience with CGA IOM was at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, for Athletics (10,000m).
How did you first begin Athletics?
Like most people I tried my hand in school cross country and sports day races but my main passion was football as a youngster. When I was about 15 I started to find a lot of pleasure in running. I found that I enjoyed pushing myself and the individual aspect of it seemed to suit my personality. I was losing my love for football around this time so started turning up for local cross country and road races. I must have surprised a few people because was I encouraged to join the middle distance training group at Manx Harriers aged 16. I knocked football on the head and never looked back after that.
What is the best thing about being an athlete?
The way running has shaped me as a person and taught me so many things about myself. It has given me a great purpose and direction in life. Not only that but the places I’ve seen, the competitors I’ve befriended, and the opportunities that have arisen from running have been absolutely priceless.
How does it feel to represent Team Isle of Man at a Commonwealth Games?
When I think of the Commonwealth Games I think of huge crowds in a noisy athletics stadium. To represent such a small nation like the Isle of Man team in such a big competition like the CWG is very unique!
What has been your favourite sporting moment whilst involved with sport on the Isle of Man?
My favourite sporting moment whilst being involved with the Isle of Man athletics team is actually from the Island Games rather than the Commonwealth Games! In 2011 I won two Gold medals and broke the Games record for 1500m. The Island Games is on a much smaller scale than the Commonwealth Games but probably provides better memories for me.
Have you got any funny stories to share with us during your time at the Commonwealth Games?
Not very funny, but the thing I was most recognized from the Commonwealth Games for was the “Tape Gate” incident. Basically, the official mistakenly taped up my Manx National emblem on my racing vest right as I was entering the track to compete. He obviously thought the huge three legs of man symbol was a sponsorship logo or a brand (which you are not allowed to display on your uniform if over a certain size). He absolutely plastered me in silver duct tape and sent me out to race! I was so “zoned out” and nervous that I didn’t think to protest. The mistake was clocked by the TV commentators and a big fuss was made both on television and back home on the IOM. The hard core Manxies were all really peeved off the Manx Emblem was covered up!
What has been your ultimate achievement in sport?
There are a few things I consider equal:
In 2012 I was English and British cross country champion and 3rd fastest 10k runner in Britain. I was also 9th at the European Championships 10,000m.
(Winning 2012 English Cross Country Championships)
In 2011 I finished top Britain at the Great North Run in a debut Half Marathon time of 1:03:39. I was proud of that one.
What one or two things do you currently do in your training that are keys to your success?
I’d like to single out one key thing, but I can’t! Reaching the very top in distance running is like trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle, there are so many tiny pieces to put together over many years.
I like this motto: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance rain.”
Have you had any key role models growing up?
I have no particular role models. I take my inspiration from many different sources, often not sport related.
What has been the most significant challenge you have faced in your preparation leading up to a sporting event?
Honestly, my running career has been littered with ups and downs, triumph, tribulation and heartbreak. In fact, I would metaphorically describe my running career as being like a canvas of mistakes and battles, sprinkled with a few dots of glory. That might sound grim, but it’s those dots of glory are the moments you remember and really define you. I’ve always said, anything you ever wondered about yourself you can learn through distance running.
What would be your advice for a young aspiring athlete aiming to represent CGA IOM?
Being picked to represent the IOM is fantastic, but there is a big world of competitors out there, so don’t just limit yourself to being a big fish in a small pond. Go and show the world what Manxies are made of.
Where do you see yourself in the future? What aims do you have?
Once a runner always a runner and I’m sure I’ll love running no matter what level I’m doing it at. My personal running aims are to simply stay injury free and enjoy competing more regularly again. If I can recapture anything even close to my previous best then that would be a lovely bonus. I’ve recently started to enjoy coaching and mentoring people because it allows me to apply my own personal experiences and theories to help others. Perhaps I could do more with that. Right now I’m taking it one day at a time.