If you are a cross country and track and field fan, you may have heard of Bethan Knights prior to this track and field season. She won the state Division III cross country race in the fall by 43 seconds (17:08 and NXN qualifier). During the past two weekends, Bethan roared into the national scene with her eye opening tie with Sarah Baxter in the 3200m. at the Mt. Carmel Invitaitonal. Her time was a spectacular 10:07.52 and quite an improvement from her previous PR, 10:35.90. This past weekend, Bethan raced to a 4th place finish at the Stanford Invitational Mile with another PR, 4:50.33 (converts to 4:48.6 for 1600m.).
1) When did you move to the United States? Aside from cross country and track and field, what other sports have you played?
I moved here 10 years ago when I was 8 year old from England.
When I was really young, I did gymnastics and ice skating but mainly I was a soccer girl. I loved playing the sport and my team, and it was hard to give it up for running. I have never regretted it because I have become a much better runner now that I am focusing on it.
2) What led you to joining the Track and Field team as a freshman? Highlights?
I had done the Irvine junior games competitions once a year as a kid and always loved winning the gold medals so I wanted to try the sport out. My highlights of that first season was just being on varsity as a freshman and becoming rookie of the year.
3) How much convincing did you need to join the cross country team as a sophomore?
I remember my track distance friends telling me to join cross country because they have a bonfire and Disneyland trip in the summer and so I joined more for the social aspect. However once I started training that's when I really fell in love with running!
4) Looking back, what race in either XC or TF do you feel gave you the confidence that you could run with the best runners in the state?
I think my junior year track season when I came second in the XC state meet and qualified to run at nxn was the moment I realized I could compete with the top athletes in the state.
5) What are you proudest accomplishments in XC (10-12th grades)?
My proudest moments probably came at CIF Finals as a senior, because I ran an incredibly fast time for that famous course (16:39), and then winning the CIF state meet.
6) What about your sophomore and junior track and field seasons?
My proudest track and field accomplishment was running at state meet for the 1600m as sophomore because it was totally unexpected and I survived the 106 degree weather.
7) What does a typical training week look like for you with a Saturday invitational? How many workouts? Mileage for longest run? How fast do you run most of your recovery runs?
My typical training week includes hard workouts on Mondays and Tuesday and then easing off on Wednesdays and Fridays in prep for a big Saturday invite. I work out 6 days a week but often take Sundays off or just do something light, easy or fun!
My longest run is 10 miles.
Most recovery runs I do at at a comfortable pace but I do remembered one recovery when the guys team and I felt really good (and competitive) and ended up going 6:30 for the whole workout.
8) Favorite XC invite? Favorite XC course? Favorite XC workout? Favorite long run? Favorite Track invite? Favorite track distance? Favorite track workout?
My favorite XC invite and course is Mt. SAC because the prestige and atmosphere of the meet is unlike any other. Also, even though the course has lots of hills, it seems to go by quickly and is never as bad a you think it's going to be. My favorite workouts are long runs on days when the weather is perfect and you feel like you could keep on running forever. I also always feel really good and strong and fit after a tough speed work training on the track.
My favorite track invite is probably Mt. Carmel after this race (tie with Sarah Baxter). It was the first time I did it and had a great race. I also loved the Stanford invite this past Saturday (April 5th) because we got to compete at same time as the college athletes and watched them run which was really inspiring and makes me so so excited for next year.
9) This past Saturday, you recorded your lifetime best time in 3200m. with a huge PR and tying 3 time state 3200m. champion Sarah Baxter. What was the plan going into the race? What was your time at the 1600m. mark? What was your reaction when you heard your time?
My plan going into the race was just to stay with Baxter because I knew she would go at a good fast pace and then try and push the last few laps! It was a strategy I'm not usually used to as I usually go out fast and see if anyone is tough enough to keep up, but it worked out nicely!
At the 1600 I think the time was 5:05 or 5:07 which was right on the pace I had talked about with my coach.
I couldn't believe my final time it at first as it was a huge PR but it felt like a great reward and achievement for all the effort I have put into training!
10) Tell us a little about your coach and he has helped you develop into the runner you are today.
My track coach, coach Muniz, has been so supportive of me throughout my career and always believed in me, maybe even when I didn't believe in myself. He has helped me develop from an unknown soccer gal to a top runner. More than that, he has become someone I can reach out to talk to about anything! We are always joking around.
Coach Varvas is new to Northwood's track program and training the distance "dark side" as he likes to call it! He is an amazing coach and I swear he knows everything about running. I really trust in his training and have learned so much from him already.
My cross country coaches - coach Gates and coach Rossi have also been a massive part of my success as I would not be doing as well as I am doing in track this season without the training and advice I got from them during the xc seasons. They all have been a huge part of my success and I have loved every opportunity to run for all of them!
11) How many other schools did you look at aside from Cal Berkeley and what led to your decision to choose Cal?
I looked at a lot of schools besides Cal Berkeley but after I visited Cal a couple times and met the team and coaches, I fell in love with the place and the people. I just had a feeling that it would be the perfect fit for me and that I could be extremely happy and successful there! I'm already so excited for the next year and the opportunities that lay ahead.
12) Anything else you would like to add.
My new favorite running quote. "Don't just dream about it. Train for it." - Mo Farah. I love this quote because it makes me proud of all the passion and work I put into my training and races. You can't get anywhere without hard training so I make sure I make every workout count!