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Change, adapt and improve with Ibrahim Chakir

A new champion rose in Seville this year. Ibrahim Chakir was confirmed as the new Spanish name in the marathon. After years on the track without breaking into the international landscape as a Senior, he found himself at ease on the road. He ran his first marathon in Seville last year and qualified for the World Championships. Then, this year, he ran his PB by 90 seconds and won the Spanish National Championships, hence qualified for the Olympics. From 0 to 100 in 12 months. Wow.

Watching him screaming while crossing the finish line in Seville, lived in our heads of amateur runners. We wanted to know more about him, his running journey, and where he is going from here. Last month, we caught up on a Zoom call from his house in Soria, Spain where he lives and trains full-time.

ibrahim chakir seville marathon
Image: atletismorfea

You specialized in the steeplechase and switched to the marathon only last year. Why did you make this change?

It starts with my results. In the steeplechase, I was always just outside of the national team for international championships. I often had the qualifier standard to participate but I was fourth in the National Championships and there are only three athletes per competition who are selected to go. I was always nearly there, but not getting it. So, together with my coach, we decided to try the marathon, because my body keeps up very well with the high volume. For this reason, I felt everything was falling into its way. I got great results.

The strong results you had last year allowed you to qualify for the Budapest World Championships. How was your first World Championship as a senior athlete?

It was crazy. It was my first international race as a Senior, and I didn’t know what to expect. Unfortunately, it wasn’t my best race. I was a novice on this distance - I got there in good shape, but I made some bigger mistakes during the race, such as the hydration. I wasn’t aware that the weather would affect my performance that much either. It was humid and hot. I feel I gained a lot of experience for the future and do better in Paris.

ibrahim chakir running
Image: Cristhian Zamora

As you said, you are a novice at this distance. You only ran three marathons so far. What were your objectives when you approached the distance?

I did not imagine that it would be as good as it went. If it hadn’t turned out this way, I would have gone back to the track and stayed there until the end of my career, probably. Also, the marathon improved my overall performance, and the times I competed on the track after I did my first marathon, I had more speed. Overall, I am a better athlete. 

Will you ever consider going back to the track?

No. [laugh] The marathon already gave me more.

Do you feel you already accomplished more than on the steeplechase?

Yeah, definitely.

What are your objectives for the Olympics this year?

I have yet to set any clear objectives at this point. I keep the door open to anything. In a race like that, anything can happen. I will arrive ready at the Olympics, and I go for it. A top 10 would be an amazing result.

ibrahim chakir seville 2024 spanish flag
Image: atletismorfea

We are four months away from the Olympics. What’s your plan for approaching the event?

After Seville, I am building up my shape and increasing the volume little by little. The marathon preparation will start 13 weeks before the event approx. Currently, I am preparing my body to sustain the load. I would like to run the half marathon at the European Championships in June, but it is not certain yet [Ibrahim was later selected as part of the Spanish team]. Other than this, no other big races.

Will your training be different from what you did ahead of Seville this year?

I will run more on irregular terrain and go to Sierra Nevada to train for a bit.

What are the learnings from the World Championships that you will apply in Paris?

Hydration will be my big focus. In Budapest, I didn’t drink enough and now I will be taking it seriously.

In the span of three marathons and one year, you ran 90 seconds faster. What is the best time you think you can achieve?

I feel I can run 2:05 in the future. This year in Seville, I was in great shape, but I didn’t want to risk going out faster. I played it more conservatively. I had a negative split in the second half, meaning I was in good shape. If I would have risked it more, I could have run around 2:06.

Going to the Olympics is something special for every athlete, even more for those who will stay in the Olympic Village. Who is the athlete that you look forward to meeting the most?

Rafa Nadal. I am inspired by his philosophy. I never ask for photos, but I will for him.


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