Rhona Auckland is the current European U23 Cross Country Champion, an incredible achievement. Not content with that alone, she backed it up with finishing 19th at the World Cross in China at senior level. At present, she has just finished up her Undergraduate degree in Medical Science at Edinburgh University before moving to Albuquerque to pursue a Masters Degree in Public Health and Education from the University of New Mexico. We caught up with Rhona mid-exam procrastination to hear what she had to say about her performances this year to date and her expectations with the move stateside.
tbUSA – Rhona, thank you for taking the time to talk to trackboundUSA. You had a fantastic cross country season this year. How was the European XC experience for you?
The Europeans seem like years ago but thinking about crossing that finish line still brings a huge smile to my face! It was a fantastic trip, a great team, and the race just played to all my strengths so it all just came right on the day! The feeling of when I broke clear is probably my favorite memory – just this overwhelming panic and disbelief mixed in with excitement – my brain was like ‘what the hell are you doing!?’
tbUSA – Moving on from Europeans, was your strategy then to get ready for the World XC? Were you pleased with your performance there?
Yup, the Worlds was a great way to end the XC season but my preparation was far from ideal so to be on the start line was an achievement itself. To have been picked despite my lack of racing made me more determined to put in a worthy performance so I was delighted to be able to carry that through.
tbUSA – What are your plans for track this summer?
This summer I’m focusing on building up some speed. My ultimate goal will always be the 10000m but am doing more 5/3ks and even a few 1500ms to get some racing and speed experience. My tactical brain is very naive so hoping to work on that with some of these shorter races.
tbUSA – Now to the NCAA, you committed to University of New Mexico. Why did you decide to commit there?
UNM has everything I am looking for: strong women’s squad, great coaches, altitude, good weather, ideal training routes and facilities and it even had the masters I wanted to do so I’m 100% sold.
it even had the masters I wanted to do so I’m 100% sold
tbUSA- What made you first consider the move to the USA?
My dad works in the States so I have spent a lot of summers travelling here and just love it – I prefer the pace and way of life in the US so it was always somewhere I wanted to live. However was keen to get my degree under my belt before coming over so that I could focus more directly on the running, knowing that when I get old and crippled I’ll have another career to delve into!
tbUSA – Did you take a visit? What did you like and dislike about the recruitment process?
It’s definitely quite a complicated process – lots of form filling etc but Joe and Halvah held my hand through it all and were great in pushing things forward, especially on the numerous occasions where I managed to mess something up.
tbUSA – What are you most excited for?
Training in a solid team – I do most of my training alone here so I am so excited to get the team vibes, work off the other girls, and learn from them – will be great to be living among like-minded running geeks!
tbUSA – If you had any advice for a prospective NCAA athlete going through the recruitment process, what would it be?
Get it done early; read the small print, be 100% clear about where and WHEN your funds are coming through during the semester.