SPIKES hears all about the ups and downs of being a pro athlete on tour, with US middle distance mates Casimir Loxsom and Garrett Heath.

Track star treatment

Garrett Heath: “The obvious difference between racing out in Europe compared to back in America is that you guys out here [Europe] are so passionate for track and field. You get more of that American football or basketball star treatment at European track meets because you compete in front of 50 thousand people, it just feels a bit surreal. They cheer for you even if you’re not from the same country as them.

“And I think what is great over here is, if you just cram all the events together in a short period of time, you can present the crowd with a really two entertaining hours, whereas in the US we have the issue of college meets and professional meets kind of blending together, so some meets run eight hours or 12 hours or even days.”

Meltdown moments

Casimir Loxsom: “I’d say that that’s definitely one side of it, as in, just from the experience you have as an athlete at the actual meet. The other side of the coin is the whole logistics behind it.

“It’s very challenging and it definitely takes some experience and getting used to coming over and not getting distracted and feeling like you’re on vacation. It definitely teaches you to be a bit more flexible when coming to the bigger meets over here.

“For example there’s a bunch of athletes here who all lost their bags, they’re still in Kentucky, so it teaches you to put your spikes and your uniform in your carry-on luggage. I can definitely see how, if you aren’t a flexible person, and you almost don’t plan for things to not go quite according to plan, it can be quite tricky. I mean I’ve seen my fair share of meltdowns from people who weren’t quite prepared for that [laughs].”

Brooks Beasts Teddington ()

It's very easy to look around and get distracted. It's tough to keep yourself focused.

GH: “The one nice thing for me this year was joining up with the Brooks Beasts and having a group around you. Because not only do you have people around to run with and chat to all the time, but also do you see people going through the same issues and problems and it’s like … disaster in numbers feels better, too [both laugh].”

Racing on the fly

CL: “This year I was going to go over to a meet in Ponce, Puerto Rico and my agent told me he had put me on the red eye. Race week came along, and I was sitting there, packing my stuff getting ready for my 8pm flight and I checked my email to do the check-in and it says it’s not available for check-in.

“Turns out my red eye was the night before. Totally my fault, completely blew it, had to re-book the ticket, fly out that night, it was just really bad.”

GH: “Over here things happen a lot more last minute. I came over and found out I got into this meet in Switzerland. We get to the train station and the staff there go ‘oh absolutely no way, that train is way overbooked’, so they put us on one that was literally nine hours of travel the day before me meet and we got there at like midnight the night before the race. There was nowhere open to eat, so we ended up going to this bar and everybody in there was smoking and drinking, and so at 1am we’re in there eating.

“The race was the following day at about 2 in the afternoon. Nobody was around to check in with and they just kept telling us ‘just show up at the start line they’ll give you your bibs then’. So we get back from our warm-up about 30 minutes before the race and they’re on the track and shout ‘Heath! Brown!’ So we both just put our spikes and bibs on at the start line and ran the race, and we both PRed!”

Brooks Beasts in London ()

Professional running is all about getting good Instagrams – Phoebe Wright

“I ended up battling with the rabbit of the race, because we didn’t understand a word they were saying so they didn’t tell us who the rabbit was. Him and I were throwing elbows back and forth for the first 300 metres and then I found out he was the rabbit and he just drops out [laughs]. That was awkward.”

CL: “OK. That tops my story, I have another couple of years to have something equally disastrous happening to me [note, despite the warning, he managed to lose his trainers on his way to a meet in Italy just days after we spoke].”

During off-season I will…

CL: “…eat a tonne of desserts.”

GH: “You’ll try and hold yourself back. But I love chocolate chip pancakes. I’ll probably eat chocolate chip pancakes for a straight week.”

CL: “You’re speaking to the pancake master here. There’s videos of him throwing his pancakes 20 feet across the room and us trying to catch them.” 

GH: “At the start of the season you start thinking about what you want to do when the season ends and it’s gradually building up, and then by the end of the season you’ve got about eight months of things planned for one and a half months off.”

It's awesome

GH: “I know it looks like we’re not quite selling this being an athlete thing, but it’s awesome.

“Basically you just travel around the world and even though we don’t get to see places all the time, as distance runners you get to sightsee through running, which I know to some people might not sound like fun, but it’s awesome.”

CL: “There’s this one meet in Belgium in Heusden. It’s just beautiful there and I almost force myself in times like that to look around to tell myself ‘this is what you do for a job’. And you can get so caught up, like you can have a season that’s a complete disappointment, but it’s still amazing just for the experience.”

Photography: Katie Mackey & Dennis Young

You can watch videos of the Brooks Beasts in London on Flotrack