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Interview with Christophe Herle Winner of Galtee Grange International Cross-Country 1985

Christophe Herle - Grange International Cross-Country 1985 Winner Interviewed

Fermoy, Co Cork

January 27th 1985

 marathon magazine cover march 1985 vol 23 no 2b

Interview by Fr. Liam Kelleher from Marathon Magazine, March 1985, Vol 23, No 2



christophe herle marathon magazine march 1985 vol 23 no 2a

1st 3 galtee grange international xc 1985 herle marninskie schweider

Top 3 - Herle 1st, Marninskie 2nd, Schweider 3rd


galtee international herle marathon magazine cover march 1985 vol 23 no 2a

Christophe Herle


Interview with winner of crosscountry race in Fermoy on January 27 - Christophe Herle (West Germany)


In Fermoy we have this evening Christophe Herle, winner of the Galtee Fermoy cross-country race of 1985.

Fr. Liam: Christophe a very good success today in Fermoy.
Christophe: That's right, I was very lucky with my performance here and I didn't think I could win this easily with all the good runners in the field, but after two laps I felt very strong, so I pulled away and had an easy victory.

Fr. Liam: Speaking to a number of athletes since the race, a number of them found it very difficult with the mud today.
Christophe: Yes.

Fr. Liam: How did you manage ?
Christophe: I don’t know, I think if you're in very good condition, it doesn't matter if it was very muddy but normally I'd rather have a course with not so much mud because my main event is track running, and I prefer drier conditions.

Fr. Liam: Does this augur well for you in Lisbon ?
Christophe: Right this year I’m concentrating on Lisbon for the winter because there are no Olympic games, no World championships, so you can concentrate on the winter time, but as you know the World Championships is a very tough race, all runners from 1500m to the marathon all run in one race, so you never know where you end up actually.

Fr. Liam: On each visit to Ireland, you seem to attract the rain.
Christophe: Yes, that's right, I do.

Fr. Liam: I recall Limerick, 1979, where you had an excellent run for threequarters of the race.
Christophe: Yes.

Fr. Liam: is that right ?
Christophe: Yes, I had problems with the mud again. I was in this (1979) running in the European Championships indoors, and I finished second there with a German record of 7.45, and I was really fast at this time, but running in the mud really changed. I had to change my style so I think till the last lap I was among the first five, who were behind John Treacy, running a group and on the last lap, I really lost some ground.

Fr. Liam: Do you plan to come back to Fermoy next year to defend the title ?
Christophe: Let's see, last year I spent about six weeks in the United States in California for training and two years ago I was in New Zealand, so I think it is a very important year. So I'd rather go to another place for training, with which would interfere with my running in Fermoy.

Fr. Liam: What are your track plans for 1985?

Christophe: Lowering my time for the 10,000m. I was fifth in the Olympics in Los Angeles, and just ahead of my personal best 28.03 which should be better.

Fr. Liam: Have you any hopes to competed in the European indoors in Athens ?
Christophe: No, I don't think so, I do some indoor racing, but mainly my aim is to run in World Cross Country Championships.

Fr. Liam: Do you intend competing in some of the permit meets which will be on this season ?
Christophe: What do you mean by the Permit Meets.

Fr. Liam: The Big Permit meets which are now sanctioned by the I.AA.F.
Christophe: l think it doesn't make too much difference for runners. We choose what we like, not just like sprinters or jumpers, they weed the Grand Prix meets more than middle distance runners.

Fr. Liam: I heard a whisper this evening that you're going to come back to the Cork City Sports in July ?
Christophe: Maybe, I was asked last year to come here, but let's see, I make up my track plans after the Cross-Country season.

Fr. Liam: It's been a good race each year for a number of years, and the atmosphere is very, very good there, Thomas Wessinghage liked it very much.

christophe herle marathon magazine march 1985 vol 23 no 2b

A delighted Herle receives prize from Michael Murphy. Also included Fr. Michael O'Connell Adm.

Fr. Liam: Who did you expect before going into the race in Fermoy today to be your main opposition ?
Christophe: Actually, I know Steve Jones is ways running cross-country very, very coco and I never saw him running bad in a Cross-Country race and Eddie De Pau of Belgium. I didn't know anything about the Kenyan, and when you come to Ireland or Great Britain, you never know, they were good in cross-country.

Fr. Liam: How do you expect West Germany to do in the Men's Senior in Lisbon ?
Christophe: Actually, not very good, because we may have two or more three good runners, but after that - no.

Fr. Liam: When we are talking there about the World Cross Country, i just saw in one of the pictures in "Marathon", I didn't know it until you pointed it out to me that you just finished one place ahead of John Treacy in last year's race, you had a personal battle with Treacy, during the race or did it dawn on you that you were running togerher or was Limerick in your mind or anything tike that ?
Christophe: Actually, I was running with the leading group for almost half the race and then I had problems with my breathing because of the cold. I fell back and then I went with Cova and a Kenyan and I think there was a group a short bit behind with John Treacy in it. I think he tried to catch me with about 1 km to go and on the home straight I just got him again.

Fr. Liam: Speaking of John Treacy, were you surprised that he came back so well to run and get a silver medal in Los Angeles in the Marathon after the 10,000m in which he finished behind you ?
Christophe: Yea, I know I was surprised he didn't do better in the 10,000 and then doing so well in the Marathon. I think everyone was surprised at his performance. But as you see the good 10,000m runners were prepared for a marathon and can be very tough in the marathon.

Fr. Liam: Just sticking with the World Cross-Country. Do you think that John Treacy who has won twice has the ability to win again ?
Christophe: It’s very hard to tell. I think since Paris with the Kenyans, Ethiopians and the United States joining the Cross-Country World Championships, it's a much tougher event than it used to be. But John Treacy I think if he's in good condition, can finish among the first five five. You never know.

Fr. Liam: Do you expect to be up there and / suppose to Lopes on his home territory will be a big danger as well ?
Christophe: Right. Lopes and the whole Portugese team will be very good, with all of them preparing for it.

Fr. Liam: Do you think it will be more or less a track race when it's in a dry country like that ?
Christophe: I hope so!

Fr. Liam: I think it's in a race course ?
Christophe: Yes, but they have small hills and some obstacles.

Fr. Liam: Getting away now from the cross-country thing, do you think the changes in the IAAF. rules have helped sport from your point of view ?
Christophe: I think yes, a lot. I think it's very important. Our sport is almost professional now, but I'm not a professional. For running I think it has helped a lot, especially for the Western Countries. To make the attractive sport like running even more attractive, getting money from sponsors which I think is good for the sport.

Fr. Liam: Do you have an occupation in Germany ?
Christophe: Yes, I do. I'm an architect and I have my own office, and I have worked quite hard, but like next year, I'm going to have more free time for training.

Fr. Liam: Do you think you will ever move like John Walker and people like that, almost full time to the running ?
Christophe: No, I couldn’t. I think with running you don't have to train as much as a swimmer or a Gymnast, I think it's limited to two or three hours a day and then you can do something else.

Fr. Liam: I think Ronnie said that you competed about nine times in the World Cross-Country. What age were you when you competed in the first one ?
Christophe: I was in Germany - Dusseldorf in 1977. I was 22.

Fr. Liam: When did you begin in athletics ? In this country people, a tot of people begin very young like John Treacy. He's an exception to keep going, but I think in other European countries, people start later. When did you begin or how did you get involved in the sport ?
Christophe: I started in 1974 when I was 17 or 18.

Fr. Liam: Have you a background in sport before that ?
Christophe: I did sport, but not in the way I'm doing it now.

Fr. Liam: Was there any particular reason why you went into athletics ?
Christophe: I was staying in the U.S.A. in High School and they made me run.

Fr. Liam: When you found you were good at it, then you stayed at it.
Christophe: Right.

Fr. Liam: What do you enjoy most about the sport? This is very relaxed here, there's pressure obviously in places like Los Angeles. What would be the difference, say in a meet like this and something like Los Angeles or some major European Championship?
Christophe: In major championships you're concentrating the whole year on the Championship and this makes it very tough for your mind and you have to make up your mind to do all your training just for one meeting but like the race here and you think about it maybe one week before and then go there and race. So it's a lot less pressure on you actually, and if you don’t run good, nobody really cares, but in Los Angeles you care if you're not running well.

Fr. Liam: Had the German Federation an overall plan for many years before Los Angeles ?
Christophe: No I think our system is based on individuals, you have to make up your own decisions where to run and how you want to run and train. You get assistance from national coaches, but after all you still provide for yourself.

Fr. Liam: A question I'd like to ask is about advice for younger people, or are you at a stage where people ask for advice?
Christophe: I think when you concentrate on your own sport, on your own getting better, it is very hard to think about other people and coaching them. If you start coaching it is the end of your career. But we just founded a new club, close to Munich with the help of Nike and a lot of young people have come and asked me questions, and I help them, but not like coaching.

Fr. Liam: And what advice would you give then ?
Christophe: I like to advise them, that it's the most important thing to concentrate on what you really want to and not just to train and train, and think of the training as the most important thin you have to concentrate on are the races and not on the training. Be more relaxed while training and be more aware of competition.

Fr. Liam: Have you ever been plagued by any serious injuries?
Christophe: Not too much. I'm lucky like this. I had a very bad back injury in 1979 and I had some problems with my ankles, twisted ankley. But all in all I’m quite lucky.

Fr. Liam: This is a pretty free year for major championships. The Europeans are the next major meeting in Germany. Do you think on home territory now you're probably the host known after Tomas Wessinghage. Do you think that you can make a major breakthrough and maybe get a gold medal in I think it is Stuttgart, is it ?
Christophe: Yes, I think running at home is a little advantage, but it can be more pressure than running abroad. I think running in Europe is very tough with the East Germans and again maybe the Russians going out and the Italians. You never know what they do to their runners, and the Finnish (laugh).

Fr. Liam: Yes. I was just going to bring that question. I've spoken to a number of athletes recently and they have a lot of sympathy with Marty Vainio since he's at the cross roads now whether he is going to train or comeback, or write a story to save other people from what happened to him. What would your impression be?
Fr. Liam: Of the whole affair like. What happened in Los Angeles ?
Christophe: It's very curious about Marty Vainio. He was , it's so funny. I mean especially for the European Championships, in Athens where he got a bronze or silver medal, I don’t know, I think bronze, and the World Championships. In racing before this, he was real bad, not even running 8 mins in 3,000m races in Berlin. Only two weeks later, he won a bronze medal. I can't believe this in Helsinki. I don't know, but it's a pity. In long distance running taking dope is becoming more common.

Fr. Liam: Do you feel there was a similarity between Lasse Viren, Munich '72 and Montreal '76. I think he was more or less out of the mainstream of athletics in these four years.
Christophe: I think Viren was not taking anything for those 1972 Olympics, but certainly for '76 I think he took something. Still doping with blood - there can be little done about it.

Fr. Liam: A lot of people in future, are going to make a good living from the sport in depressed areas, particularly in Ireland, / think it would be a way out for a lot of people, but it's tough ?
Christophe: It is tough I think to earn money in track and field. You have to be quite good. We have good support in Germany from our clubs, but I think you don’t have it over here. If you have to earn money you have to go maybe to Britain or other places to earn money. Getting the ticket and getting out there is a hard job.

Fr. Liam: Well I think we'll leave it at that and we hope to see you back at Cork 800 celebrations for the 5,000m / presume. Is that your favourite or the 10,000.
Christophe: I can't tell. I like to run 5,000m. It's faster and there's more moving around. But certainly 10,000m in a major race is more interesting.

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