Ryan Gregson of Wollongong, NSW is an Australian middle distance runner who currently holds the Australian and Oceania records for the men’s 1500 metres.

February 16th,Inside Athletics of Australia ran an article from the Illawarra Mercury suggesting that Gregson was running out of time to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics. A few days later on Friday, March 2nd, Gregson won the 1500m at the Melbourne Track Classic, besting 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist, Asbel Kiprop of Kenya, by over four seconds. It was a comeback of sorts, after a spate of injuries kept him down during the 2011 season.

As a junior, Gregson set the Australian youth records over 1500 metres, 3000 metres and 5000 metres. His 3000m time of 8:01.26 was also an Australian junior record. During his final year as a junior, he set new Australian junior records over both 3000 and 1500 metres, with times of 7:57.45 and 3:37.24 respectively.

Gregson qualified for the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, Germany, where he again competed in the 1500 metres. He captured his first national senior title at the 2010 Australian Championships in Athletics, out-sprinting World Championships semi-finalist Jeff Riseley to win the 1500 metres.

Personal bests

800m – 1:46.04
1000m – 2:17.69
1500m  – 3:31.06
One Mile – 3:52.24
3000m  – 7:49.53
5000m – 13:56.83

Christopher Kelsall: What fascinates you about World War 2?

Ryan Gregson: I was always interested in war as a kid, watching many war movies and playing with fake guns in the backyard every day. For a short period when I was younger I entertained the idea of becoming a sniper until I realised how dangerous it is. I guess the thing that fascinates me most is how brave the people who fought were. I couldn’t imagine everybody lining up to go serve their country nowadays but back then so many people enlisted without any hesitation. I’m also intrigued with how messed up the Nazi regime was and still can’t get my head around the atrocities that Hitler caused.

CK: Have you been interested in Vietnam-based war movies like Apocalypse Now or Full Metal Jacket?

RG: No. But I did like Forrest Gump!

CK: So you are a pacifist who likes chocolate and war history?

RG: I guess you could say that. Especially the little red dairy milk chocolate Lindt balls. They’re my favourite.

CK: Have you watched To Hell and Back or Battle at Bloody Beach about WW2?

RG: No. My favourites are Enemy At The Gates and Saving Private Ryan.

CK: Tom Hanks fan?

RG: Hanks is all class. You’ve got to love Cast Away also.

CK: You mentioned growing up with fake guns in the backyard. Were you into sports growing up?

RG: I ran track since I was 4 but my biggest love as a kid was cricket. I gave up cricket when I was 13 because running and cricket were on the same afternoon. It was a hard decision. I guess I was slightly better at running so I went with that.

CK: You blogged that during the Prefontaine Classic, in your defense of the mile win, your “rhythm was all over the shop”, yet you appeared to start conservatively and won with a kick. Having come back mid-season were you in comparison to others, fresh yet rusty? Would that explain the the way the race played out?

RG: Yeah it was my first race for the season so even though I was fresh, I wasn’t very race fit. It takes most athletes a few races to get back into the swing of things.

CK: Considering your performance at the Melbourne Track event do you get a sense of having your best season providing of course that you stay healthy throughout?

RG: I’ve never really put together a good full season. 2010 was promising, but was cut short with a stress fracture, so to just get through to September with no more injury setbacks would be a huge success for me.

CK: Are the Let’s Run forum visitors jealous of your performance at Melbourne, hence the slagging of your finish line dance, the Melbourne Shuffle?

RG: Haha! I just wish I could have put in a better performance. My legs were pretty lactic so I didn’t nail it as good as I’d have liked.

CK: At the Melbourne Track Classic, how much did the wind affect your result of 3:38.1?

RG: It must have been a bit. Everyone who raced the Sydney Track Classic two weeks earlier in good conditions were at least four seconds slower in Melbourne. I wasn’t worried about the time in Melbourne, just about getting a win over such quality opposition. Willis and Kiprop are both superstars of the 1500m, Torrence is running well, and my counterpart Jeff Riseley and I love racing each other because we’re always so competitive, so the win was pretty special for where I’m at.

CK: You two are fairly evenly matched. He has you in the 800m, 1000m and the mile, but you have his number in the 1500m, 3:32.92 to 3:31.06. Can you hold him off?

RG: I’ve had the edge over Jeff recently over the 1500m, but I wouldn’t want to race him over 800m. Jeff’s a huge talent and I think he will run 1:43 soon.

CK: What is up next for you?

RG: I will train at home in Wollongong in Australia for the next three weeks before heading to the U.S. for the Carlsbad 5km, and then a month-long training camp at Mt. Laguna, just up from San Diego. Out of all the places I’ve trained at, Mt. Laguna is the best if you want to get strong in a short space of time.

CK: What are your expectations for Carlsbad?

RG: In Carlsbad I’d be happy with anything under 14 minutes. My best time for 5km on the track is 13:56 so I’m not expecting too much.

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