With the European Athletics Championships coming to Glasgow this summer, all eyes will be on the track. Looking to the future we caught up with a star of the youth running scene, Megan Dingle.
The 15-year-old currently resides in Dubai, where she has lived for the last decade. She currently attends DESC, where she’s taking her GCSEs – but her head isn’t just stuck in the books.
Recently, Megan finished 2nd in the 5k English Nationals at Sutton Coldfield. It clearly runs in the family, with mum Hafwen completing the London Marathon in April.
“My parents have always run and kept fit,” Megan said. “My Dad ran with Mirdif Milers when we first came to Dubai and he would enter the odd 10km race. I had already run the Children’s Mile when I was 4 in the UK, but it wasn’t until I went to go watch my dad run a 10km that we realised there was a 3km junior race here in Dubai.
“I told my parents I wanted to do it next time! That was in 2013. I used to do shorter distances (600m) at my school athletics club and at the time that felt like such a long way and I remember running around a small area in my compound with my Dad ‘training’ for these events at school. I ran because I enjoyed it and it was fun!”
She has also taken the step up from u-15 events to u-17 in her stride: “It just gets tougher but it keeps me on my toes, just when you think you have done your job, the goalposts change again.”
Megan runs in both the UK and abroad, adapting to the completely different and difficult climates well. She doesn’t have a preference and adjusting to different temperatures may help for future competitions.
“Racing in Dubai has become so much more popular now and we are almost spoiled for choice, every week there is a new race. I actually race a lot less than I used to so I can focus on training. I haven’t raced in the UK as much as I would have liked to but it’s obvious that the competition there is much tougher there,” she said.
“I hope to do more races in the UK. I race in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, I travelled up to Doha but I have only got to go there once this year due to the blockade. I’ve raced twice in the UK this year and I’m going for the Welsh Champs at the end of June.”
She currently trains with Ultimate Athletics in the UAE, whilst continuing with PE at DESC: “I train 4 times a week to a schedule, but also do a variety of other sports which I think is important for training and strengthening part of my body which can’t be strengthened through running. I am lucky to not have had many injuries and I think a big part of that is because of the cross training.”
Megan’s dedication is obvious, which is an encouraging sign for someone of her age who wants to continue in the sport.
“Running is such a competitive sport, especially as you get older, which is one of the things I love about it,” she said. “I would love to go into running in the future, but I am taking it day by day at the moment. Being the best I can be is something I am constantly working towards. It comes with hard work, dedication and passion and for now, I am enjoying my running so much and I think that that is the main thing. But of course, everyone dreams of being in the Olympics.”
Megan gives credit to both her running club, and her parents, who provide a real inspiration.
“Ultimate Athletics has been a great drive to getting lots of young people into athletics. Kids have fun at training and then get to put it to the test at the Race Nights that Lisa organises. It becomes a competition between yourself, your friends or the clock - whatever you choose, which is really nice about it.”
“My parents have always been my inspiration to run and they are very supportive of me,” Megan continued. “I think the 5 of us, including Vaughan (11) and Cerys (12), inspire each other which helps a lot. We all have different goals and we help each other.”