World class athlete and transport planner at Tetra Tech Clara Evans has been gearing up to compete in the Marathon at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this month. Throughout her training Clara has continued her role as a transport planner part-time.
Craig Hatch, President, Tetra Tech, has led the well-wishes to Clara
‘We are all extremely proud of Clara and will be cheering her on when she completes in Birmingham. I’m pleased that through our industry-leading approach to hybrid working we have been able to give Clara the flexibility she needs to train and complete at this level. Good luck from all of us at Tetra Tech Clara”
Ahead of the Games Clara told us a bit about how she got to where she is today, her hopes for the competition and what will come next.
Firstly, how did you get in to running competitively?
I started at the athletics club when I was about 8 years old. I enjoyed sprinting and long jump but my parents told me I should try some distance running so I tried an 800m race and really enjoyed it. I wasn’t very good at running as a junior and it wasn’t until a few years ago where I started to make national and international teams.
And how did you come to choose a career in Transport Engineering?
My dad is a transport planner and my boyfriend is a civil engineer. Alongside running and athletics a lot of the household chat is about the manual for streets (guidance for practitioners involved in the planning, design, provision and approval of new streets, and modification). I’ve already got the running bit covered off so I thought it would be useful to get into the industry to contribute to the rest of the conversation over the dinner table.
How do you balance your role at Tetra Tech and your athletics career?
I’ve been lucky to be able to go down to a three-day working week whilst I’ve been building up for the Commonwealth Games. This allows me to hit the training hard the other two days. I’m running over 120 miles per week in the build up to the games so trying to fit everything in can be a challenge!
I’ve also been lucky that I’ve been able to train at altitude (in the Pyrenees) as being at altitude allows your body and your blood to make adaptations that lead to increased performance. I have all the technology to keep in contact with my team and clients to continue working no matter where I am.
Having this level of support and flexibility from Tetra Tech has made a massive difference and has really allowed me to compete with other professional athletes.
How did you continue your training during the pandemic?
The pandemic made my training easier in a lot of ways as I was working from home. The extra time lost off the commute was put into my training. I went extreme too and upgraded to a home gym but I was also fortunate enough that I was given elite athlete dispensation from Welsh Government so I was allowed to travel to attend track for training and continue receiving physio and treatment as required. During the pandemic I also went and attended elite athlete races and raced in the World Half Marathon Championships in Poland which was quite surreal as we were completely in a Covid bubble!
Has hybrid working changed how you work/train?
Yes, the flexibility I have means that it is easier to fit in my training when I work from home. I am also lucky that the other people in my team like running too, so when I head into the office, I can usually drag someone out for a couple of miles before or after work. This usually means missing the worst of the traffic by coming in earlier/going home later.
What are you looking forward to most about the Games?
The Kenyans tend to always dominate the Marathon but outside this I think it’s going to be really competitive. That’s what I’m most looking forward too. There’s a chance of having a good finishing position if I have a good race on the day. I know all the other girls that have been picked for the Home Nations will also be thinking the same thing and I think that’s going to make for an exciting competition. As it’s my first major championships, I’m also looking forward to seeing how the whole thing works – the holding camps, athlete village and then having accreditation to go and watch other people compete.
What are you ambitions next – both in terms of your athletics and your career?
In athletics, after the Commonwealth Games, I will be focussing on getting the standard to compete at the Olympics in Paris in 2024. This is likely to be a 2-stage process with running the standard first and then potentially a trial race (I finished 5th in the trial for Tokyo). My world ranking points in the Marathon now has me ranked 4th in the UK, so with the team limit being 3, I’ve got some work to do to try and squeeze into the team to go to the Olympic Games. There is also a World Championship in 2023 in Budapest which I would be keen on trying to qualify for.
In terms of my career, I just want to continue developing professionally. I’ve been working in the industry for 6 years now and have gained lots of valuable experience in Transport. For the next couple of years, with my lofty ambitions outside of work, I want to continue to develop with the flexibility I have now. Careers in sport are short, so once I have finished with athletics, I will have a really solid platform in Transport which I can pursue.