Editor's Choice

Hugh Armstrong set to take on the world’s best in Belgrade

Avatar photo

Hugh Armstrong is less than 48 hours away now from taking on what he describes as “the hardest race in the world” – the World Cross Country Championships which take place in the Serbian capital of Belgrade on Saturday.

The 29-year-old is part of an eight strong Irish team travelling to the championships all of whom will have the simple goal of finishing as high up their respective fields as possible.

Despite acknowledging how difficult it is for European athletes to finish in the top twenty, Armstrong is relishing the opportunity to wear the green vest this weekend.

“It’s a race I always wanted to run especially given that it’s the race where you can challenge yourself the most,” he tells Irish Runner.

“You don’t get that many chances to run at a World Championships so I’m delighted to get the opportunity. I understand how some athletes have track priorities especially this year with it being Olympic year but for me it was it was an easy decision.”

Armstrong will tackle a 10km course on Saturday and the pace will be ferocious from the gun as the world’s best distance runners go for gold. On top of that, the Ballina athlete will have to deal with sweltering conditions, with unseasonably high temperatures of close to thirty degrees expected.

“Jaysus Christ, I wasn’t expecting that,” he says when discussing conditions.

“That might become a bit more of a factor than what was expected.”

Armstrong will be used to suffering however having finished twentieth in atrocious conditions at the European Cross Country Championships in Brussels late last year, as the Irish team just missed out on taking bronze medals, finishing fourth.

Hugh Armstrong on coach Feidhlim Kelly

The Mayo man, who works as an accountant with An Post, has been part of Feidhlim Kelly’s Dublin Track Club for the past two years and is starting to see the results following a couple of injury interrupted years.

“I’m very happy with the group, we have a very good group of lads. Feidhlim puts great time and effort into meeting up with us three or four times a week, he puts great effort into all his athletes.

“The good thing I find is that he nearly puts more effort in during the times you’re not going well. I’ve had my fair share of injuries and he sits down and spend hours with you looking up things you can do. He’s always on the phone to his athletes checking how we are getting on.”

After the World Cross Country Championships, Armstrong will turn his attention to the Hamburg Marathon on April 28th, hoping to lower his personal best of 2:12:26 he set in Seville just over four years ago.

His focus will then pivot to the European Championships in Rome in early June where he will hope to be selected for the Half Marathon.

Before any of that however, Belgrade awaits and despite admitting that it will be a “big step up” it is one he feels he’s ready for.

Irish Runner logo

The Runner’s Connect