INTERVIEW WITH WARREN WILLIAMS
Interviewed in January, 2015
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Interviewed in January, 2015
I am 53 years old and have competed in running and triathlon events for more than 30 years. I’ve been training with Sean since about 2005. I first met Sean when my son Jordan started with Sean’s kids group and after a couple of months he was bumped up to the Elite Adult’s group. I tagged along and the rest is history as they say. I still remember the first evening session that we attended at Kensington Oval in the middle of Winter in the pouring rain, freezing cold and Sean got out of his car wearing nothing but running shorts (no shoes) and proceeded to run around the track for the warm up yelling out to us all “Get out here, it ain’t Canada”.
Sean is not only a brilliant coach. He is a really good mate and a genuine person. He has been a great mentor to my son Jordan and helped him to achieve some fantastic results over the years for a little bloke who was built more like an NRL Hooker rather than a distance runner. For me he has always helped to set goals and in most cases achieve them. He has supported me along the way not only as an athlete but also on a personal level. Sean takes an interest in all of his runners regardless of level or ability. He is always approachable and willing to help you to modify your training schedule to suit your individual aims for upcoming events. The monthly programs are well rounded and cater for all distances.
I ran with the Elite Squad up until about 4 years ago when a heart condition forced me to change my approach to training. I don’t push myself as hard as I used to and now really train to keep myself fit and still competitive in my Age Group. I now mainly run with the morning squad but occasionally will turn up for an afternoon session just to get the inspiration from those great athletes. The afternoon group are a great bunch of people to be around, not only are they very talented, they are extremely friendly and humble in their achievement.
When I was first diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation in 2010 I thought my running days were over. There was mixed medical opinion at the time as to whether I would ever be able to run again. After 3 months of drug therapy that virtually killed me (I went from being able to race at about 3:30 pace to not being able to jog a few hundred metres), I changed Cardiologists and was fitted with a Medtronic Pacemaker. 2 weeks later I headed into the park and banged out 10 kilometres in around 40 minutes. From that day I have never looked back. I was racing again within a few weeks.
Medical Company Medtronic selected me as a runner in their 2013 Global Heroes Program – https://www.facebook.com/MedtronicGlobalHeroes where 25 International runners supported by Implanted Medical Devices are chosen to run in either the US 10 Mile Championships (TC10) or the Twin Cities Marathon in Minneapolis USA. I ran the 10 mile event.
In October of 2014 I was invited back as the male Global Heroes Captain or “Alumni Host” as they call it. Here I not only ran for the Team in the 10 Mile event but also was involved in some media and speaking situations on behalf of the program. A highlight was a live to air interview on FOX 9 straight after the race viewed by millions across the USA Here is the link: .https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10205158685033328&set=p.10205158685033328&type=2&theater
In November 2014 Medtronic also took me to their Singapore Headquarters to tell my story to their staff and a group of International Medical Philanthropy Liaisons demonstrating the benefits of implanted device therapy. I have since spoken at conferences for Australian and New Zealand representatives of the Company and have another speaking event for International Cardiac Therapists in February. Medtronic have been so supportive of me and my efforts and my experiences as a “Global Hero” have been life changing to say the least.
Since being implanted with the device I have been more careful about how hard I push in both training and racing. I did continue to run with the evening squad for the first 6 months after the operation but then moved to the morning squad.
Coming back to running was at first a very mental challenge. The uncertainty of what could happen or how well I could run was at first a matter of trial and error. For the first couple of weeks I used to drop Jordan off to run with the squad at Moore Park in the evenings and then I’d head off by myself into Centennial Park to run for an hour often in the pitch black of the night. Each run I went a little further and harder building in confidence until I thought I was capable enough to jump back onto the tail of the squad. This was a real mind game for me at the time.
From there I set myself goals. The first was to race in the NSW Cross Country Championships again for Randwick Botany which I did at the Short Course Event at Rydalmere just 2 months after receiving my device, I think I finished 4th. Then I set myself a goal of retaining a preferred start in the Sydney Bridge Run the following month which I did running 34:41 chasing one of my old training buddies Greta Truscott all the way.
Next was to win my Age Group in a major Fun Run which I did in the 2011 Mother’s Day Classic only to have that crown taking away from me by Brad Sharpe from the morning squad by 1 second on corrected chip time. In 2014 I aimed to better my 2013 time in the TC 10 in Minneapolis which I did by almost 2 minutes, and the week before I won the 50+ Age Category in the “Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers” race in New York City finishing 21stoverall in a field of more than 30,000 (3.5 mile in 21:57).
Although I will never achieve the times I was once capable of, setting goals such as these has helped me to maintain my passion for running and staying healthy.
Running does help with my work on stage. Singing and performing can be a pretty demanding thing to do and although performers often make it look easy they are working really hard up there both mentally and physically often in a very hot environment under those stage lights. I would say that after a 2 hour show with my brothers I feel pretty much the same as I would at the end of a Half Marathon, depleted, dehydrated, and hungry. My singing lungs are aided by running for sure and being fit helps with the recovery after a show as well. Both of my brothers are very fit guys too. Darren is possibly one of the most naturally gifted all round athletes I know but doesn’t really like to compete in anything, and the youngest brother Andrew is a veteran ultra-runner and has completed several North Face 100s and this year will complete his 6th Six Foot Track in a row. We aren’t your typical hard living musos that’s for sure! I often miss the Saturday morning session with the squad if I have a late night but I always get to the long run on Sunday regardless of how late work was on Saturday night.
I’m often asked that question and to be honest don’t really have the answer. I just do what I have to do to the best of my ability and try to enjoy myself along the way.
I have been with Coogee SLSC for about 20 Years. I was heavily involved with the Nippers and Junior Program there for several years when my kids went through. I was an Age Convenor for about 8 years and then Competition Director for 3 years.
Being a Long Service Member I am no longer required to patrol but I still do around 25 hours each season just to keep myself involved. I did compete for a while in the Beach Sprint Team and was part of a very successful Masters Team for a couple of years. I’ve also had a go at the 2km Beach run both would much prefer to be on the harder surface of a road than on that soft sand!
Wow I don’t know Tony’s times but I’d hope I was faster! I do admire Tony Abbott though, I can’t see anything wrong with the Australian PM demonstrating his fitness and looking good in a pair of Speedos. I haven’t done a triathlon for a few years now but I think I’d go ok against Tony. I have a 4:08:23 Half Iron Man PB so I went OK once upon a time. I keep threatening to make a comeback!!!
There is nothing in the immediate future of any significance on the radar but there will be the usual races later in the year like City 2 Surf and the Gold Coast Half. This year is the 10thAnniversary of the Medtronic Global Heroes Program so I am hoping to get a call up to make a return to the US to work with the Team in some capacity. If that happens I will also return to New York for the “Tunnel to Towers” race. There is also a 1 Mile Road Championships in Minneapolis in May each year that Medtronic are involved with so I’d like to fly over and do that sometime in the near future.
I don’t know if “rivals” is the right word but there is certainly some competition running with the squad. Everyone seems to slot themselves in with a group of similar ability runners at each session, and these people in many cases seem to become your closest friends. Mohammed Alkhub has always been there with me from the start as was Glen Derriman and Alija Kajan. We were a pretty formidable Masters team there for a while. In more recent times my good mate Geoff Lucas has always thrown out the challenge and likewise Trevor Tingate always seems to be there too. It’s always great having some of the girls pushing you along each morning, and the likes of Louise Arnott and Adi Torda always keep you honest.
Don’t know if I really have a favourite runner to speak of however many of the squad’s runners leave a big impression. Keith Bateman is a runner I admire for what he is able to do as an aging athlete, the man is amazing. Big Jim Dawes is very talented for a man of his size. Benny St Lawrence is an impressive guy in every respect and having been there to witness his hard work and dedication to reaching Olympic status has been a privilege. Also seeing and being involved with the development of Morgan McDonald from the age of ten to where he is now is another great privilege. Lara Tamsett is such a great ambassador of the sport. Mohammed Alkhub’s passion for running is second to none. Harry Summers, Superstar, he’s yet to show his best. Julia Degan has been the biggest improver over the years in my eyes and her amazing result in the Melbourne Marathon is testament to that. Keith McPherson, Alex Rogers, Hamish McDonald, Tracey Robinson, Sean Bowes, Ruby Hackett all great runners and it’s been a pleasure to run in their company over the past years. And Sean Williams SUPERCOACH, great runner, amazing spirit, tough, resilient, champion.
NRL player Billy Slater is a great athlete. I think he is one of those guys who could do anything in Sport. Darren Lockyer was similar. I once took him for a paddle around Wedding Cake Island at Coogee on a Rescue Board. He said he’d never paddled before but was up on his knees within minutes and was catching waves off the Northern side of the Island like he’d done it forever. I have never seen natural balance like that before.