Julien Wanders is temporarily back in Europe.
The Genevan, who will line up for 5,000m on Friday at the Monaco Diamond League meeting, is already looking to Gdynia where the World Half-Marathon is to take place on October 17.
Covid-19 pandemic obliges, the Kenyan by adoption has made the Polish meeting his main objective of a truncated 2020 season. He will prepare specifically for it upon his return to Iten, scheduled for the end of August.
“I had finished 8th in the last Worlds” in March 2018 in Valencia, recalls Julien Wanders. “My goal will be to do even better. I have clearly improved since then”, underlines the one who has held the European record for the half-marathon (59’13 ”) since February 2019.
Does he already dare to dream of a podium in Gdynia? “A medal will be possible. It will be decided on the details,” replied Julien Wanders, who, however, has not yet set a concrete objective for the season on the track.
“We did not talk at all about time with Marco (editor: Jäger, his coach). For now, the goal is to find my feelings on the track”, slips the Genevan, who also holds the continental record of 10 km on the road (27’13 ” in Valence last January).
Not far from his best form
Julien Wanders made his first official outing of the summer season last Saturday at Regensdorf, where he completed 3’43”39 over 1500m (some 4 ” more than his personal best). The competition will obviously be quite different on Friday night in Monaco, where he will nonetheless be competing over his favorite distance on the track.
“The start list seems perfect to me. Everything in front, it will run very quickly, and the world record will be in danger. It will probably be too fast for me. But behind, I imagine it will run in 13’30-13 ’40 “. I will have to put myself in the right group to hit a good time,” he said.
Julien Wanders, whose best mark is 13’13”84 over 5000m, does not have a specific program for the following weeks. “I hope to be able to play other meetings before returning to Kenya,” he said, stressing that he was not far from his best form.
Quietly, or almost
The 24-year-old Genevan returned to Switzerland just a few days ago, after spending seven months in Kenya. If he is happy to have reunited with his family, he does not regret one second of having stayed longer than expected in his second homeland. “I didn’t want to get stuck in Switzerland. And I’m much more efficient in Kenya than in Geneva,” he breathes.
“It was hard at the end, because I felt that the form was there but I did not know when I could return to Europe”, specifies Julien Wanders, who was able to train in peace or almost in the highlands: “We were forbidden to train in groups for two months, until June. The authorities did not hesitate to fine those who ran in small peloton.”
But “there was nothing frustrating about this situation. I tried to be patient and prepare as usual,” continues the Genevan, who took a two-week break in mid-April. “The feelings weren’t there. But then I resumed my preparation normally,” even though track training has only been allowed for six weeks in Kenya again.
One more year to progress
Julien Wanders does not regret the postponement of the Tokyo Games either. “I was even relieved. It would have been hot, hot to aim for a medal in 2020. There, I have one more year to gain experience, to prepare myself for this great meeting”, slips the Genevan , who had experienced a big disappointment at the Doha Worlds in 2019 (25th over 5,000m, retirement over 10,000m).
The fact that the popular fall races are also condemned for health reasons does not worry him either, “although I love to compete in these kinds of events, which are good for the head”. The shortfall will be limited for him. “I’m lucky to be able to count on my sponsors. And I’m sure I will have other races on the menu,” explains the three-time winner of the Escalade Race.