Glynn Tromans (GBR) (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Nothing half-hearted about Tromans

StGalmier, FranceAs a 36yearold with a best ever finish in the IAAF World Cross Country Championships of 34th who is barely a household name in his own household, Glynn Tromans is unlikely to be among the headline-makers ahead of Sunday’s senior men’s long race at St-Etienne/St-Galmier.

Yet Tromans is one of the Trojans of the British cross country tradition, who has managed to accumulate a record number of national titles despite a severe medical condition that required two heart operations. Today, Tromans competes for his country at the World Cross for a phenomenal ninth successive time, another record.

From the famous Coventry Godiva Harriers club that produced Basil Heatley, the winner of the International Cross Country in 1961, Tromans was always a promising distance runner. But 10 years ago, after a lengthy spell of illness, it was discovered that he had a serious heart malfunction. It took two operations to seal an extra valve. Tromans the runner has never looked back.

Within a year of his last operation, Tromans was making his international debut, at the relatively late age of 28, running in the World Cross in Turin, where he finished 161st. And while Tromans’ performances may not have been eye-catching, he has been an ever-present in the British team since  - 38th in 1998, 52nd in 1999, his best performance coming with his 34th at Vilamoura in 2000, 61st a year later, 70th in the mud of Leopardstown racecourse in 2002, 73rd in 2003 and 50th last year in Brussels.

To pursue his running career, Tromans gave up a job as a college lecturer in 1998, and an improvement in performances followed immediately. In 1999, he collected his first British national title, at the half-marathon. A year later, he won his first national cross-country title. Earlier this month, he sealed his placed in the statisticians’ history books when  he joined a select band that includes Alfred Shrubb, Jack Holden and Gordon Pirie to win the Englsh National cross-country title for a third time.

Tromans, who celebrated his 36th birthday last Thursday, has now been around long enough to understand which events really matter. “This race,” he said after the English National, “the Inter-Counties and the World Cross are the only events I am interested in,” Tromans told the British magazine, Athletics Weekly. And given his continuing primacy amongst British cross-country runners, there is no reason to suppose that Tromans’ priorities will not see him racing his 10th World Cross in Japan in a year’s time.

Steven Downes for the IAAF