Kristian Jones: Welsh orienteer mapping out bright running future

Kristian Jones
Kristian Jones has lowered his 10,000m best this season to 29:05.66

Kristian Jones is the Welsh athlete looking to map out his international future this weekend.

The Swansea Harriers runner hopes his orienteering background will help him in his Great Britain debut on Saturday.

Jones is one of seven athletes who will represent Britain at the European 10,000m Cup in Minsk, Belarus.

But it is the not the first time the 26-year-old has been on the international stage, having represented GB in the World Orienteering Championships last year in Sweden where he finished fourth in the individual and relay events.

It was a passion that was crafted during his childhood in Swansea, which he believes has helped his development and improved his 10,000m personal best to 29:05.66.

"They tally pretty well," said Jones, who is a member of the Swansea Bay Orienteering Club.

"I grew up doing that and that's how I got into athletics to try and get a bit faster.

"My main sport for all these years has been orienteering. My dad took me along when I was 12 and 13 along with my brother and mum.

"I got into the British squad as a junior and it progressed from there."

Orienteering
Orienteering is a sport that relies on accurate navigation as well as strong running

Orienteering involves navigation between control points marked on a map in the quickest time, choosing your own best route.

It is a challenge that exercises both mind and body.

"It's so much about the mental side and that's why I love it," said Jones. "You take your own route on the map and that could mean anything.

"Sometimes it could be fast and flat running, sometimes it's up and down steps and cutting through bits of woodland.

"Orienteering is normally a time trial and it's you against the clock, otherwise everyone would just follow each other!

"You have to try and stop pushing yourself very hard and keep focusing on the map."

This background has led to Jones' athletics emergence this season, where he has significantly lowered his personal best.

"It was unexpected," admitted Jones. "In the last year I have had a bit of an upswing and I have been surprising myself recently.

"I haven't raced much on the roads or the track over the past few years. So part of it is I am doing more races and gaining more experience.

"I don't know what sort of race it will be in Minsk because it's a different ball game."

It will be a busy month for Jones, who will compete in the World Orienteering Championships in Estonia on 30 June-7 July.

Self-trained

You also need a map to chart Jones' life and education journey after growing up in Swansea.

He studied sports science at Sheffield University before moving on to Loughborough.

His travels then took him to live in Dundee and he is now studying for a PhD in sports biomechanics through the University of Ulster.

Jones does all his training outside normal work hours and is self-coached.

"I take responsibility for the training I am doing," said Jones. "I have help, but the buck stops with me and I quite like that. I am not the type of person who wants someone telling them what to do every day."

Despite being based in Scotland and affiliated to more than one club - including the Dundee Hawkhill Harriers and Dark Peak fell running club - Jones is still a staunch Swansea Harrier at heart.

It's a club that has recently celebrated recent success with marathon runner Josh Griffiths selected for the World Championships after surprising the running world by finishing as top Briton at this year's London Marathon.

"I like the atmosphere in the Swansea Harriers and the people and I'm happy to wear the vest," said Jones.

"Josh at London was outstanding and we have always had Dewi Griffiths who has just got the Commonwealth Games A standard."

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