One of the real talents of Stuart Weir is his ability to interview athletes. As one of the most well-traveled journalists over the past decade, Stuart Weir knows nearly every world-traveling athlete. 

Recovering from surgery, Stuart Weir is sending us these interviews from his trove of interviews done in 2023 and 2024. We thank Stuart for his wonderful interviews and hope to see him this Spring or Summer on the track! 

Jess Warner-Judd reflects on 2023 and speaks of her hopes for 2024

RunBlogRun, #1: What is your assessment of 2023?

Jess Warner-Judd: I’m thrilled with it more for perseverance, I’d say. It wasn’t the year I’d hoped for. When it was about July, I thought, ‘This season’s not been great. Like I’m not very happy with this. I’d run OK, but nothing extraordinary, especially in the winter; I hadn’t done well. That Highgate [Night of 10Ks and GB trials] went well, and another couple of races that me thinking, ‘Oh,, is going well’. A.’ Then I think at the London Diamond League, I was absolutely devastated. I felt embarrassed that I ran that poorly. So we went away to St. Moritz in preparation for the World Champs and then managed to salvage my season with the run that I thought was there. But again, you have a bit of a crisis of confidence when things don’t go as well and then manage to finish the season in Brussels with a 5K PB. So, perseverance-wise, I’m thrilled with it.

RunBlogRun, #2: Talk about the Brussels 5K PR!

Jess Warner-Judd: I was really, really happy with it. I think that with the 5K, we have a real love-hate relationship; I’ve never had a race that I’ve been like, ‘Oh, that was amazing.’ They’ve been alright, not great. Whereas Brussels, I think, up until 4K, I was like, ‘This is going so well, I’m thrilled.’ And then the last K was adamant. I just had to dig in, but it was so hot and coming off the back of Budapest, which was also really hot. The emotions of that made me just so happy to get a PB. Really happy because between Budapest and Brussels, I caught COVID as well. I did Berlin 5K and didn’t run as well as I wanted to, and I just felt like my breathing was strained. And then, yeah, it turned out I had COVID, so I had to recover from that. I had a bit of a niggly calf as well, but it was one of those. I had one more race to do when Caroline [her agent] told me I got into Brussels. I was absolutely over the moon because you always want to be in Diamond Leagues, and I think, especially considering how London went, I thought, ‘Oh, that’s it. No one’s gonna ever invite me back.

So I was thrilled, and yeah, I didn’t wanna warm down afterward because my season was over. But Laura Muir told me I needed to warm down, and I’d feel much better for Arrow. So. I did a little jog, and then that was the end of my season. So yeah. It ended on a high.

Jess Warner-Judd, the winner, photo by Getty Images for UK Athletics

RunBlogRun, #3: Getting into Diamond Leagues is something a company people don’t understand: you can’t be sure, so you can’t really plan your season.

Jess Warner-Judd: Yeah. It’s so hard. Like, that’s the thing. You plan, and I always have a Plan A, a Plan B, and then a C plan and hope that races will accept me and be like, she will have a good one. But I’m not one of these runners who always runs well. Some people, when they race, you know they’re going to race well. I’m up and down like I usually get the peak right. But on the way there, it’s never a straight line; it’s up and down, up and down. So, I always worry that it will affect my getting into races. But yeah, when it does click, I’m like, ‘That’s why I should be in it.’ But it’s problematic that after London, I was like, ‘Oh, no, this is really embarrassing.’ But sometimes, it just goes that way. So I think that’s just what makes sports exciting, though. So, hopefully, I’ll get in some races.

RunBlogRun, #4: You started 2024 with a good run at Valencia. Did you see it coming?

Jess Warner-Judd:  I didn’t. That is what we aimed for – that race – when I started my season at the end of September. We had that race in mind. That was what we wanted to try and peak for, well, not peak. But I wanted to have a good one there. But then I think it was hard to believe when the cross country went OK. Still, it wasn’t amazing, I guess because I knew I had Valencia coming up, I was training through many of the races and was still running OK, and I made the European Cross team at Liverpool, but I’d say I wasn’t running that well. And I started to have doubts. I guess you start thinking, ‘Oh, Ohybe, I’m not in as good a shape as I thought I was.’ B.’ The European cross went really well. I was thrilled with that on that course. I thought. I ran pretty well. So, that gave me a bit more of a confidence boost. And then, since Christmas, I started to taper a little bit, and it all came together. But it would have been nice to run a second quicker. But apart from that, it was OK.

Jess Warner Judd, photo by Getty Images for UK Athletics

RunBlogRun, #5: The Euro-Cross looked tough and really muddy.

Jess Warner-Judd:  I don’t like running through mud. So, very early on in that race, I knew it wouldn’t be good for me. I think a good one would have been in the top ten. I said that to myself because I felt I wasn’t running well. So I just thought, ‘Get your head down and just hope that it comes out OK, but I don’t know if I can finish in a good place,’ and so 5th, I was thrilled with that. I would have taken that all day. But it was hard because I felt at such a disadvantage just because I’m not a mud runner, and that was a very muddy course.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – JULY 09: Jessica Warner-Judd of Blackburn competes during the Women’s 5000m during Day Two of the UK Athletics Championships at Manchester Regional Arena on July 09, 2023, in Manchester, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk – British Athletics/British Athletics via Getty Images)

What would be your approach to this year?

Jess Warner-Judd: It’s difficult because I think being so close to the Olympic qualifying time in Valencia was quite challenging. I was like, ‘It would have just been done.’ But it actually doesn’t change my season much. I’m going to do a half marathon. I’ll probably race another 10K this winter, then start my track season. Highgate’s [GB 10K trials] is early in May. So I’ll probably go away in April and try to get a good training block because it’s always complicated with Highgate and so early compared to everything else. And probably switching on the track stuff like April time, and then hopefully Highgate and everything goes well. I’m fortunate; I’ve got the 5K time from last year, so that’s something to fall back on. We’ll just keep training hard, try to be sensible with my training, and not do too much because that’s usually where I go. And hopefully, the Olympics. But we’ve got Europeans as well in June. And I always think that someone comes out and runs fantastically during the Olympic year. There’s always that one person who people aren’t expecting to run well, and they just come out and smash it. So you have to be prepared for that. So yeah, it’ll be exciting, but no pressure. If I can enjoy my running and just enjoy each race, whatever happens, happens.

Jess Warner-Judd – some recent races

May 2023 Night of the 10,000m 4th 31:09.28

August 2023 World Championships 10K 8th 31:35.38

Sepember 2023 Memorial Van Damme  5K   8th 14:51.53

December 2023  European Cross Country 5th 35:20

January 2024  10K Valencia Ibercaja, Valencia 12th   30:41

February 2024 eDreams Mitja Marató Barcelona by Brooks, 4th 1:07:07

Jess Warner-Judd likes to run, photo by Getty Images for UK Athletics