Parkrun record for Launceston runner James Hansen after blood clot recovery

Launceston runner James Hansen’s running career was in doubt little more than a year ago after suffering a blood clot on his brain.

But he has bounced back and on the weekend broke an Australian record.

Hansen clocked a time of 13 minutes and 53 seconds at Launceston in northern Tasmania, eclipsing the old record by nine seconds.

In doing so he became the first Australian to run a five-kilometre parkrun course in under 14 minutes.

“It felt really good,” he said.

“I’ve been training really hard and doing a lot of work to get to the level where I’m at and I’ve had a lot of setbacks along the journey.

“It feels like it’s starting to click I guess.”

But it almost never happened.

It was a last minute decision to take part in Saturday’s run.

He was supposed to compete in the National Cross Country Championships in Adelaide but booked the wrong flights and couldn’t get there.

He broke the Launceston course record recently so thought he would be a good chance to break the Australian record on his home course.

“I was like, well what do I do and I’d ran the course record at parkrun a couple of weeks before just to get ready for national cross championships and I thought maybe I’ll have a crack at breaking the record and trying to be the first person to run under 14 minutes,” he said.

“I always like challenging myself, probably similar to everyone on that parkrun course, I like challenging myself to see what I can do and I knew I was in really good shape so I was like let’s give it a crack.”

The 28-year-old contacted some elite running friends who helped with pacing, while conditions on the day and a flat course also helped.

“I didn’t really know what conditions I’d get but it didn’t feel like it could have been much better than what I got,” he said.

Career in doubt
The achievement comes after serious health concerns that caused him to question his future in the sport.

“I had a blood clot in my brain so I was getting these really bad headaches,” he said.

“I was out on a run and my hand went limp and felt this shooting pain go up my body.

It put his running career in doubt.

“I obviously had to have a bit of time off but my body’s come back really well from it.

“Nobody ever said ‘you can’t run’, they said running would be fine, it was just more the fact I didn’t know if I’d be able to get back to a high level again.”

It’s another step in his running comeback after becoming the first Tasmanian to win the Launceston Ten earlier this year.

He’s now got his sights set on the world parkrun record of 13 minutes and 48 seconds.

“It’d be good to have a crack at it,” he said

“I think the poms have got it so I feel like we would like to have it back in Australia.”

While parkrun attracts elite level runners like Hansen, it also encourages participation and caters for all ages and abilities to walk, run or volunteer around Australia.

Launceston parkrun event director Amanda Aitken said the event had a wide range of runners and walkers.

“Our times last week were 13:53 up to 56 minutes but it’s not just runners and walkers, we also have spectators and volunteers who participate without doing the five-kilometre run and walk,” she said.

“Parkrun is not a race, parkrun’s about having a go against yourself and beating your previous best time or just participating.”

Hansen agreed.

“It is nice to see your performance improve and enjoy that process of getting better,” he said.

Future goals
Hansen has got other goals in mind.

He said he hoped to compete in either the 1,500 metres or 5,000 metres at the the Athletics World Championships in Budapest next August.

“And then Paris Olympics and then hopefully Commonwealth Games 2026,” he said.

“I think it’d be amazing to run a championships in your home country.”