By Owen Morgan
US-based athlete Rosie Edwards is raring go in the red of Wales as she makes her international debut at Sunday’s inaugural Commonwealth Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff.
Edwards, who spent part of her formative years in Llanelli, has been based on the other side of The Pond since heading to university in Indianapolis eight years ago.
But she is thrilled at the prospect of joining up with the rest of the Welsh team on the streets of the capital, particularly after her season was threatened by serious injury.
Edwards said: “Growing up we spent a lot of time in Llanelli so representing Wales in Cardiff is extremely exciting for me.
“This will be my first Welsh vest, so I am honoured to pull on the red. After so many setbacks this year I’m excited to line up with such a strong team.”
The former Butler University student will line up alongside Jenny Nesbitt, Clara Evans Alaw Beynon-Thomas, Dewi Griffiths, Josh Griffiths, Jonny Hopkins and Kristian Jones on the start line in Cardiff on Sunday morning.
However, there would have been huge doubt over her earning international honours when she suffered serious injury early in the season.
Edwards said: “I had a tough start to my 2018 season. I tore both of my Achilles in May and had to take 10 weeks off completely.
— Welsh Athletics (@WelshAthletics) October 2, 2018
“It was my first injury, so I wasn’t good at being patient, but I have been lucky to train with an incredible group of fast women who have kicked me into shape.
“It wasn’t pretty at first, but I am happy with how the last 12 weeks have gone. I’ll be racing at the Frankfurt Marathon three weeks after the Commonwealth Half Championships too, so it’s an exciting few weeks coming up.”
Edwards, who is still a member of Rotherham AC, will be a relatively unfamiliar face on the European and even the British circuit, having run so rarely on this side of the Atlantic in recent years.
Like many aspiring young British athletes, Edwards opted for an American university in order to test herself in the highly competitive American collegiate athletics system.
It was a decision she wouldn’t regret.
“I moved to the US without seeing the school or even the state that I’d be living, but I loved Butler University immediately. I was lucky that there was already a big group of British athletes out there, so I felt at home right away.
“The level of competition was another level in the US collegiate system, our coach told us that for every five good runners at home there would be 50 to contend with here and he was right. I struggled to run well in college, but the university and my teammates made for an extremely positive experience.”
Such was the positivity of her American adventure, Edwards decided to stay stateside after she graduated from Butler.
“The way of life in America really suited me. My coach Thom Burleson is based in Indianapolis, so I worked and trained in Indianapolis for six years”, said Edwards.
After focusing on shorter endurance events like the 5k and 10k, Edwards made the decision in 2016 to switch her focus to the marathon and just one year later made the move to Boulder, Colorado where she began training at altitude for the first time in her career.
“In 2016 we decided to transition to the marathon and last year my husband was offered a job in Boulder, so we moved out here and I decided to give altitude training a real go.
“I moved here in May of 2017 and really struggled to begin with – I couldn’t even run five miles without stopping at first and my sessions took a long time to come around too.
“Boulder isn’t even particularly high in comparison to places like Font Romeu or Flagstaff as we are only at 5600ft (above sea level), but I found recovery and workouts extremely hard. It took me the best part of six months to adapt, but now I feel good up here, recovery is harder and it’s easier to blow up in workouts if you go out too hard. For the most part I don’t notice it now, but recovery and diet need to be taken seriously.”
The Welsh team will be hoping to profit from the benefits experienced by Edwards’ move to altitude when they take to the streets of Cardiff at sea level this Sunday morning.
Hopefully, Edwards will enjoy more success than the last set of Stateside sporting visitors to compete in Europe over the past seven days.