A member of Team New Balance Manchester from its inception, Jonny Mellor will be on the start line of the London Marathon on 22nd April. We caught up with him in his final stages of preparation to find out more about how he has become 'The Marathon Man'.

How did you become a runner?

“I think like most people, I did a lot of different sports at a young age. I played football, and that gave me a good fitness base and foundation to build from. I got into running relatively late really; it wasn’t until my late teens when I started taking it more seriously. I stopped playing football and realised actually I could be a good runner! I then went to Uni and that’s when I started making the step up and won a few university titles. During my early 20s I was running cross-country, road and track and running fairly well but wasn’t really making that next step up.

Running sub 63-minutes in the New York Half Marathon in 2012 gave me the confidence to have a future on the road. So from then on I really wanted to move up to the marathon. I moved across to Steve and he wanted me to run a bit faster on the track first before moving to marathon, getting a bit stronger and ready for the distance. I ran my first marathon in Frankfurt in 2015. After that I suffered a few injuries, which is all part of the sport and it wasn’t until last spring I ran another marathon. So I am still relatively new to the marathon and still learning all the time.”

How did you become a part of Team New Balance Manchester?

“I moved across to be coached by Steve Vernon (Team NB coach) about September 2014 time. I wanted to take that next step up in my running and I recognised Steve as being the person to help me do that. As well as this, myself and Ross Millington moved over to represent the brand New Balance. I don’t think the team was mentioned at that point, I think it was just an idea. I tried on the product and I liked it. It wasn’t until January 2015, that Team New Balance Manchester was officially launched. They had put all this amazing structure in place. For me to move over to Manchester was a big move at the time but I knew that was where I needed to be if I wanted to make the next step up and be part of that professional environment.”

What would you say are the pivotal moments in your career?

“Qualifying for my first World champs is definitely a pivotal moment. We were (me & Steve) still early into our career working together and that was definitely the catalyst of what more we could achieve together. Unfortunately I got badly ill in Kenya followed by a series of injuries from the medication; I look back and that was a pivotal moment in my career because you learn so much from that and come back with a different mindset. I would also say running London Marathon last year, again a negative, but still a pivotal moment in my career because from that negative I learnt so much. I learnt the importance of fuelling; up until that point I probably hadn’t given it enough respect. | Didn’t take enough fluid on board and paid the price. Then finally getting it right in Berlin last September showed me that I can be a marathon runner and I can run at the top level.”

What's your favourite event?

“That’s such a hard question because I have obviously been very fortunate to do so many good races over the years. I think having a good experience gives you a good memory of a race so going back to New York, I have raced there twice and I have had two good runs there. There is just something about running round Central Park and then going through Time Square; I just loved the whole event. So probably New York is my favourite but in the UK, again London Marathon. Even with having a bad experience last year, I just love the crowds of London. Afterwards, you still think wow that was amazing, your hairs do really stand up on the back of your neck when you’re running round Cutty Sark and places like that.

I try to use the crowds to inspire and motivate me. There is nothing worse than in a race to be on your own, no crowds cheering you on and in the middle of nowhere. You’ve got to use the crowds to your advantage.”

What are your aims for the future?

“I think for any athlete the Olympics is the pinnacle, that’s definitely my goal, and the plan in the next few years is to make sure I give myself the best possible chance of qualifying to run in Tokyo 2020.

But short term I just want to run PBs, and run some good times. I want to enjoy the journey be in control and I want to go to different places around the world as well. That’s something you look back on after your career and something you should make the most of while you can.”

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