Young gun in it for the long haul

TOM Hynes doesn’t listen to music when he runs.

He used to, but now the sound of his feet on the pavement or grass provides all the rhythmic backdrop he needs to keep his mind focused.

He glances down at his watch, sees the seconds tick over and knows whether he’s on track to meet his target or not.

Tom clocks up to 60 kilometres around Warrnambool a week, running six days a week regardless of the weather.

His favourite course is 10 laps of Allan Oval, followed by two laps of the botanic gardens.

Tom runs because he loves it. It’s an added bonus that he’s good at it. 

At 16 he is a long-distance runner with a bright future in the sport.

He’s not sure what level he could get to and isn’t one to make brash statements.

Tom’s personal best 10km time is 33 minutes and 12 seconds — a result he notched up at the Melbourne Marathon in October.

He finished 12th overall out of more than 8000 runners and won the 14 to 17-year-old age group.

“At the Olympics they are probably 27 minutes for 10km, so it’s a bit off,” Tom said. 

“I am just trying to improve a bit. If I could one day get to 30 minutes, I’d be pretty happy.”

Tom is preparing for a hectic 2014 season.

First up is Warrnambool’s fast-growing Surf ‘T’ Surf in January.

He finished fourth overall in this year’s event, 14 seconds behind third-placed Kris McCartney, one of the south-west’s premier athletes.

“He is winning fun runs. He is probably the best runner in Warrnambool now.” - Warrnambool Athletic Club president John Keats

Tom has another top-five finish in mind but said there was “no way” he’d take out the main prize.

“I think the top two are a couple of minutes in front, so I will be lucky if I can get the same position as last year,” he said.

“Now it is a lot more competitive. You used to be able to go in and 32 minutes would be the winning time. 

“Now you have to go 31 or even under, so it’s pretty competitive.

“It is tough. There are a lot of hills so it’s pretty hard.

“I’d probably rather a flat one because I’d run a better time.”

Tom will also compete in the Warrnambool Athletics Club’s summer series in January.

He prefers longer distances but pushed established Warrnambool runner Clinton Hall in three of the four 5km runs this year.

Tom finished two spots clear of Hall in the Melbourne Marathon 10km run.

“I go better against him if it’s a bit longer, but on the shorter ones it’s a bit harder,” he said.

“The 5km is too quick. I prefer getting into a rhythm over a long distance. 

“I don’t like to do the races that are short and hard because I can’t find that bit of speed yet, but hopefully I will get a bit quicker.

“I prefer about 10 to 15 kilometres at the moment.”

The lightly-framed teenager wants to run Melbourne’s Run for Kids and Sydney’s City2Surf again as well.

Tom underlined his potential in those two races this year.

He finished the 15km Run for Kids 17th overall out of 18,333 runners in a time of 51.37 minutes and backed it up in the Sydney-based City2Surf, placing 38th out of 69,000 runners in the hilly 14km trek.

Tom beat more than 1200 runners to take out the 16 to 19 years’ male age group there too, finishing in 46.51 minutes.

“The first 20 are pretty serious and a couple of thousand at the front are trying to do a good time and the rest are probably just in it for a bit of fun,” Tom said of the popular fun runs.

Next year, Tom wants to add to his race load, which he’ll combine with year 11 studies at Emmanuel College and after-school basketball and tennis commitments.

He doesn’t have a running coach at the moment and teaches himself what works for him and what doesn’t.

“I have started doing Athletics Victoria races, so they are more competitive,” Tom said.

“Next year I am going to try and do four or five of those. They are age group races.

“I am focused on getting a good competition base up. I did two races — a 10km and a 5km — this year.

“I think I was fourth in the age group in both of them.”

Tom rates Warrnambool runner Alison Wilson — along with Hall, George Burrows, Jenny Dowie and Elissa Ward — as a mentor.

Burrows is still running at 80 and that is something which impresses Tom.

Wilson first saw Tom run when he was in grade 6 at St Joseph’s Primary School.

“I am a relief teacher and I taught him in primary school one day,” she said.

“I didn’t know him then and I took the kids for a run around the oval and the kids said ‘he’s fast’ and he just flew around.

“The improvement he has had every year is just huge and he’s just so humble and that’s what I love about him.”

Wilson said Tom ran long distances with ease but was smart about what he took on.

“He is sensible about it because he is still growing,” she said.

“He is winning fun runs. He is probably the best runner in Warrnambool now.”

Warrnambool Athletic Club president John Keats emphasised Tom’s “relaxed attitude”.

“He doesn’t get overawed by anything,” he said.

“He enjoys the art of running and that’s fantastic for a young person.

“He’s up there in his age group in Australia in times.”

Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide