While we are all now pretty used to coming to the Monaco Diamond League and seeing Mo Farah mix it up with the middle-distance boys, as he illustrates his incredible range and speed ahead of his greater distance challenges, it was great to watch another Brit, Charlie Grice also impressing on the big stage in the men’s 1500m.
Though Farah eventually finished comfortably ahead of his compatriot, running 3:31.74 for 5th, Grice, the British champion, showed aggression and class to smash his PB by over a second and a half, running 3:33.60 in 9th, to climb up to tenth on the British all-time list. Despite slowing slightly in the closing stages, the runner, who heralds from the same Brighton Phoenix club as Olympic champion and former world record holder Steve Ovett, pushed on when the pace began to increase at 800m and even moved onto the shoulder of Farah as they came to the bell, rather than sitting back in the pack. Though he couldn’t hold on, he still stayed strong to hold his form and only be overtaken by two athletes, defeating a number of big name rivals including both the Ingebrigtsen brothers who medalled at the Europeans last week.
Speaking post race Grice was ecstatic: “It was amazing, I’m just so thankful for the opportunity to run here and to run 3:33, I’m really buzzing for that! Training hasn’t gone that great since I ran the trials so it’s good to still do this.” he said.
“This was the time I was looking for, I died a little bit in the last 100m but I’ve still got a long way to go…I didn’t want to waste the opportunity I knew it was a fast track so I wanted to go out hard so that’s what I did.” he added
What makes Grice’s run even more impressive is the age that he has run it at, of all the other incredible athletes ahead of him on the all-time list, only Steve Cram ran anywhere near as fast at 22 years-old. Not only was it the best performance by a British 1500m specialist since Michael East in 2005, but it was done in one of his first races at this level.
Having admittedly taken a while to get to this standard Grice, who last year reached the world championship final, knew he had to take his chance: “I definitely see myself as a championship racer and not time-trial racer. For me, I’m just very grateful to get into a race here because I know everyone runs fast. So I knew I wanted to run aggressively. I think I went through in 1:53/54 which is faster than I’ve done before, I kind of died a bit in that last 200m and people came round me, but I’m still glad I ran it that way because for a lot of these races this year I finish and I don’t feel like I’m going to throw up unlike now, so I’m glad I pushed myself on.” he told FloTrack in a later interview.
Clinging onto Farah’s shadow is something Grice has become more used to doing this spring as he has been given the opportunity to join the Olympic champion at a number of training camps. It is an experience alongside his steady increase in training that he credits to his recent improvements: “I think it’s just down to consistent training. I’ve just been sensible with my training this year, typically in an Olympic year everyone pushes hard, I’ve got a good team round me and we’ve just added 10% every year. Fortunately I’ve been able to go on camps with Mo, which opened my eyes of what I need to do.”
Speaking on Farah he added: “The guy’s just an animal really, smashing out 120 a week mileage and still pushing me on in speed sessions and I see myself more as an 800m/1500m runner.”
It appears the friendship and admiration is mutual, post-race Farah was quick to praise Grice’s Monaco DL debut: “I looked at him and gave him a hug afterwards…[Before the race] I just said to him ‘You know you can run sub-3:30′”
“It was quite impressive running a personal best of 3:33. I remember my first race here I ran 3:38 when I was under-23, then I ran here in 3:33.98 and then I came back and have continuously ran PB’s.”
As for whether Grice can one day break his British record, Farah believes it’s possible: “As long as he believes in himself and stays hungry then he can and if he stays focused. Nothing is going to be given to you, I’ve been working hard since I started running at 12 and now I’m at my peak, so as long as you keep working hard you can achieve it!” he said.
With the Olympics just around the corner, Grice will be hoping that he can continue to be a championship racer in Rio, and he will now be even more confident about competing whatever the pace of the race