Friday, 29 January 2010


    With the interference of that irritataing white stuff, this week's training regime is the first real departure from the 2009 routine of 1 track session plus the long run.  Is that sufficient for my mature years or could I cope with  Tuesday hill reps  ........on the trail in the woods.....a Friday track session plus, hopefully, being able to cope with the Sunday run of at least 10 miles. Considering neither Wednesday nor Thursday were particularly easy did I feel GOOD today?  Welll, yes, OK, the 2 x 3k session went well in that I felt I was moving pretty fluidly....not quite Seb Coe but you know what I mean....and whilst I felt the odd twinge,there was no major trauma.  I planned 2 x3k  as a progression in trems of total distance from the 5k tempo track run last week but nevertheless anticipated  (hoped for!) a better average per lap as well.
    Regretably, the lap times in comparison were BAD.  Without boring you with the detail, I ran through 3k faster last week on the way to 5K faster than each of the efforts today and my normal acceleration through the session did not happen!  The average lap time was not significantly slower but enough to take the shine off the session.  Towards the end it was a touch dispiriting.  The reason?

I'm looking for an excuse now I hear you thinking!

   The NASTY!  I have no doubt that the lap times suffered because of a NASTY, biting north easterly wind which countered the otherwise splendour of the bright winter morning.   Very frustrating looking at the watch, but at least the effort was there.
   For £2.75 I had the whole of the track to myself today. the only distractions were in my head.  Not having anyone else to compete with shoulder to shoulder the mind drifts,  the concentration drifts and the pace drifts as the "style" deteriorates.   Quite a discipline............... but all good for the soul !  It has to be done. 
    I've run without the support of a group since I was given sessions to do by myself since the age of 14 in 1983. If we rely on others to motivate us what happens when the spoon feeding us is taken away?  Not so sweet.
   The afternoon was spent in the shop at Nelson.  Introducing some new FASTRAX lines and of course meeting some interesting customers.   Several ladies just starting out on their running "careers", keenly talking of 5.30 a.m runs!! races planned and weight to come off!   A mature gentleman desperately seeking supportive shoes just to go about his daily life.  A bright perky effervescent 12 year old young lady preparing to represent her town in next week's Lancashire Chamionships.  Let's hope she is still enthusiastic in 50 years time. 
                           I'm back for more tomorrow..................bring it on!

Thursday, 28 January 2010


   As a late morning trainer it's not often I get the call to run with someone else. So when the chance came to run with holidaying Sarah J. (Running Bear) on one of her easy excursions I could hardly refuse could I?  The strong winds of Wednesday had blown through and we enjoyed a very pleasant 6 miles in early morning January sunshine.  Faster than my easy day pace but not so fast that I couldn't hold up my end of the conversation which is the basis of a good training running after all, isn't it?
   Arriving home, this week's Athletics Weekly was on the door mat and it contained the ladies veteran road rankings for 2009.....the leading masters (??) marks from female British runners during 2009. 

Great to see that Sarah was ranked 8th for 5k, 2nd for 10 miles in 58.27 and 5th for half marathon with 76.57.  Great versatility. Well done to Sarah.  We look forward to continuing success in 2010!

Sarah's Bingley team mates featuring were Sue Becconsall.....2nd F50 (18.32)5k, 6th F50 (37.18)
10k and Andrea Dennison 7th F45  (63.46) 10 mile.  Lisa Mawer ,ex Bingley now Wetherby ranked 5th for 10k with 36.57.  


   The forecast said .....a cool westerly breeze.....I lay in bed early morning and my ears said...there's a gale blowing out there!  Find somewhere sheltered to run today.
   Strid Woods would have been the obvious choice but maintaining my 2010 resolution to introduce more variety I was drawn back towards Timble as yesterday. I wanted to run through the forest ......but without a posse of shotgun toting pheasant pluckers for company!  It would give me a chance to add another new run to my training repertoire.  So from Timble crossroads, through the village down to and around Swinsty,  trail back to Blubberhouses road, crossing over into back plantation for the tough uphill section as covered yesterday to the finish.  Just short of 9 in total.....  and still no sign of a thaw up there.

The legs weren't thanking me for subjecting them to that 3/4 mile uphill towards the end of the run but  at least I wasn't being battered by the strong winds and enjoyed it pushing from behind over the last 1/2 mile.  A good new route and one I'll be repeating again before long ..... no doubt!

Tuesday, 26 January 2010


  With the last 5 days of training being virtually flat there was absolutely no excuse to avoid the hill rep
session today. I think for the session to be executed as well as possible, with maximum concentration, if at possible the hill should be traffic free with  good running underfoot.  The 11 a.m. start brought the choice of trail into the mix.
   With those factors in mind I started the flat 1.5 mile warm up from Timble Village hall in readiness for the  hill reps in the woods just north of the trail which forms the start of the ROUNDHILL fell race. (Back Allotment)  Rather puzzling though to be chased down the track.... which leads to nowhere up to a dozen 4 x 4s in convoy! So much for peace and solitude! 
Reaching the start of the hill climb it was surprising to see snow still around.
As this was the first time on the hill I hadn't decided on the numbers of reps but the first took I would go for 6 in total. Quite pleased with the timings which were quite consistent.....3.27....3.27...3.28....3.25.....3.27......3.23.


   This shot shows the start of the hill which I think is an ideal venue for all "types" of cars....just the very rare walker.....good shelter from the wind on either side.  A great venue for a group session on a summer evening with a welcome drink to follow at the newly refurbished TIMBLE INN !

Whilst all was peace and quiet down in the woods and on the climb, at the top of the wood it was an entirely different scene now.  The 4 x 4 drivers and passengers were emerging from their vehicles and were all "tooled up" for action!

  One of the gentleman ,complete with shotgun and bullet belt, kindly posed for a quick photo opportunity.
   I asked him if he was on the hunt for the"lesser spotted wiry jogger" but to my relief he said, " No, pheasants......but if you get in our way I might be tempted !"
I ran on.........picking up the pace a touch!

Monday, 25 January 2010


 The frequent choice for the Monday recovery run last year was an easy run on the hallowed turf down by the River Wharfe at the local hockey club and grammar school playing fields.  Keeping well to the edge and well clear of the playing surfaces it's possible to do a loop of nearly a mile.  Usually 3 or 4 loops prove enough.  Not any more!  Just before Christmas I was stopped by one of their officers who pointed out that I , and other runners, are making a groove around the perimeter which makes grass cutting more difficult.  Those that know me well know that my bathroom scales don't even record above 10 stone which I tried to suggest was hardly having an impact. 
    Anyway, rather than risk arrest for trespass,  I give it a miss in future.  So today after the tempo run on Saturday and yesterday's 13 I opted for a flat "easy" 6 on the road .  Target time 54.........ran 53.59.   So another change to last year's routine.  Next task  a  decent runnable hill for tomorrow's session ...offroad.
   Going back to Saturday at Witton Park.......inevitably a large part of the visit is spent catching up with old friends in the sport........the coach of a 2:26 female marathoner now coaching sprinters......a 13:35  5K runner from the '70s taking up coaching at the age of 64..........a 2:15 best marathon man who ran 2:19 last year but tragically forced to quit racing because of ill health at the age of 34.  Sad indeed.
  But the smile returned to the face when I had a conversation with a fellow vet from Bolton (think Tommy Ball of Cannon & Ball!!) who I've raced against since the '70s.  The chat turned to the matter of sleep.  I asked did he have any problems ......he said

                                         "No, not after 4 or 5 pints!"    
                                I said,  "Yes, but what about in the week?"
                    He said,     " That is in the weekends I have 6 or 7!!!"

                                            I'll drink to that!

Sunday, 24 January 2010


   With Saturday's tempo run in the legs I must admit to being a tad apprehensive about grinding out a 13 miler the following day; particularly having enjoyed sharing a nice bottle of South African Pinotage last night. So as expected the first 3 miles around Silsden and along the lanes to the Leeds-Liverpool canal  were cautious and lethargic. The welcome sight of the waterway after so many weeks produced a bit of a spark and a shot adrenalin into the system.  From that point as usual the pace picked up nicely mile after mile, with the initial sluggishness forgotten but obviously detracting from the final time and average of 8.45.  Would have placed me about 1000th of 1550 in the Brass Monkey!  So that brought the first 4 weeks of the year to a close with 204 miles on the clock, averaging 51. Only one track session due to the ice and snow but a 12 and 2 13s in this build up period. 
   Looking at the Brass Monkey from the point of view of the London Marathon it would appear most local runners performed well and are on course at this point.  Congrats. to those achieving PBs!
  I have no record of how many ran the 1986 race. I would guess about 500. Today amazingly 1550 finished and Knavesmire probably refused entries from a few more hundred.  How did times compare? Well Matthew Pierson of Holmfirth was well inside my 67.55 with his time of 65.35  but 10th today clocked 74.59 to 72.55 in '86, 20th today recorded 77.00 today compared to 75.20 in '86.  From 25th place however the volume of runners reflects quality and with a much sparcer field in '86 50th place shows at 83.55 compared to 79.34 today.   It's really brilliant to see so many enjoying their running now and thousands so easily coping with half marathons and marathons.  A much wider base to the performance pyramid but the culture required to raise the peak seems to remain elusive. 
         And finally.....I leave you with an image I hope we'll be seeing again in the near future....


Having decided to go to Blackburn to spectate at the Northern it seemed logical to switch Friday's track session to Saturday to complete it on the way to the cross country champs.  With 2 half marathons entered,
it  called for a TEMPO RUN yesterday. So a 5K was ground out on a still morning with the temperature anchored down by a chilling morning mist. Target time for 12.5 laps?  Well, the accepted wisdom for a tempo run is 20/30 seconds above 10k pace.  So based on a speculative level of fitness of 42 minutes, a
 time of around 22.30 should have been attainable.  Initial laps were a second or two too slow, however, but the pace picked up from halfway and the watch stopped at 22.42. So not bad for a solo run at this time of year. 

   I arrived at Witton Park.........this photo of park and track was NOT taken yesterday nor by me!......
in good time to do a quick leaflet drop and position myself for the start of the Senior Womens race,  in which Hattie Dean of Hallamshire triumphed from Victoria Wilkinson who fought hard all the way to the line.  Sale ladies were without 4 of the leading lights but pack pretty well to take the silver medals.   The club did well to put out teams in all races except the under 20s, male and female, but concerningly  the senior ladies were the only team to return to Cheshire with a set of medals.  The leading Cheshire team seemed to be the much younger club, Vale Royal.
   Besides looking to shout on Sale team mates I was intent on encouraging local Wharfedale athletes but of the two local clubs only 2 women and one man ...........well done, Mr. Fell Fiend Wilby....made the journey to Lancashire.   Of course,  several times during the afternoon I was asked why I wasn't running and I must admit I started to ask myslf the same question when I saw so many M60s and even M70s up for the challenge.  But the days are well gone when I could race on a Saturday and follow up with a 13 mile run on a Sunday as pllaned. A need for focus!   Besides Sale H. were well covered for male counters.  The other fact working against participation is that the North doesn't   acknowledge  age groupings in the results.  So a runner may not count for his team but can see where he has finished in his age group.  I think Southern and Midlands do record age group. Their championships are next week. If the Northerns had been on next week then a clash with the Brass Monkey would have been avoided and I think added to the Northern quantity and quality.  Before departing from the park, now very cold and gloomy by late afternoon I staked a claim for  a place on "C" or "D" team for the Northern 12 man.

Friday, 22 January 2010


                                                                                                                                                                                           I know from the FASTRAX part of the business, supplying club vests, that there are some fairly young clubs who have already changed the design of their club more than once.  In contrast the vest I'll be looking for particularly tomorrow at the NORTHERN at Blackburn , green with white and red hoops was adopted by SALE HARRIERS in 1929 and been maintained ever since.  This photo shows the 1935 team. Presumably the suited man is the team manager and the gentleman with the towel is the "trainer".

                                  Nothing like a good rub down with a towel after a hard run!

Moving forward to the mid '60s, our celebrated coach Alan Robertshaw didn't grace the next photograph but the vest is the same and the trophies are still there!  Sadly not many of us still running.  One interesting fact I discovered recently on that there '"tinterweb" was that I still share a UK 4 x mile record of 18.28.8 with 3 of the lads on this photo from 1965!  Probably because today's young runners run 1500 metres.  Nearly 10 years later I think I'm still wearing the same vest as the one in the '64/65 picture was taken up at the shoulder.                                                                                                 

By 1974 it was fitting me........................

I left SALE HARRIERS in 1975 when I started teaching at St. Bede's in Bradford and had started to settle in Yorkshire.  I rejoined in 2009 as it seemed fitting that in the twilight of my running career I should return to the club where I began. Particularly as 2010 is the club's centenary!   The vest is still the same although the latest version is trimmed in black.  I still have the same amount of hair as in that 1964 photo except that I have to dye it grey nowadays just so that I get the respect we veterans should from the young folk!

Thursday, 21 January 2010


  Looking out from my home office window throughout the morning gave little promise of the fabulous sunshine that blessed today's lunchtime "smell the roses" 5 miler.   It actually felt quite spring like with the warm rays on my back. Mind you I was dressed as normal; seeing several other luchtime runners flying along in their shorts! So a flat and a relaxed pace bearing in mind a busy weekend to come. 
These runs are those that the magazines continually suggest can be missed out  as they suggest we can......Run A Marathon Training Just 3 times a Week!!.....or.....Slash Your 10K Time By Just Running Every Other Day.....etc etc.    A shame for those who seek, or have to follow their advice, because it  tends to mean, inevitably,  that every time the runner steps through the door it  has to be push!, push!, push!...., a hard hill session, a tempo run, a long hard run.  The danger being that training becomes a daunting chore.  Perhaps that's why so many runners say they hate training....... particularly alone.

Going back to the weekend and the Brass Monkey......remember NO TRANSFERS!.........I want to remind you new " Save The Planet" runners that we were doing our bit to reduce our carbon footprint way back in 1986 no less.  By travelling to the York race by coach.  How often does that happen with local clubs now?  Today's photo shows our group in the Ilkley Car Park prior to departure ad my post race presentation shot.  It'll be interesting to see how 2010 times compare.
And finally............the other big event this weekend is the Northern Athletics Cross Country Championships at Witton Park, Blackburn.......more commonly known as the "Northern".  128 clubs entered for the mens (1185) and 96 clubs (440) in the womens.   What will they be wearing for near zero temperatures? Will it be t-shirts and long shorts as modelled by past Northern Champions ......or croptops and knickers?.............

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Made a welcome return to the Fewston/ Swinsty rerservoirs today; the first time since November 8th due to road closure and the recent snow and ice.  I suspected that some of the trail would still be ice packed and that proved the case. In fact whilst last weekend's thaw saw most of the area free of snow, parts of the reservoirs still contain large sheets of ice.   I started  with the Swinsty loop which wasn't too bad, but  anyone planning to run  around the Fewston trail within the next few days will still have to exercise caution. The 2 res. figure of 8 gave me the planned 7 for the day.   Another feature of the revised routine for the year.

 There's been quite a lot in the athletics press lately about "number swapping" for races.  I think the term "number transfer"......whether done officially or a more correct term.  I know some can't see what the problem is; including one Paolo Natali who having won the Norwich Half marathon using someone else's number and then was correctly disqualified then wrote to Athletics weekly to defend himself instead of maintaining a low profile and hope that he wasn't banned.  I won't repeat everything the race director states in his letter against Natali.....except...
"He (Natali) thus cheated the legitimate winner out of his right to cross the line first, receive the plaudits and press coverage, also cheated City Of Norwich
AC out of the true record of the silver jubilee race finish .  
              You will recall in a pre Christmas blog I pointed out ......"with raised eyebrows" a M65 had managed to improve his 10K time by over 20 minutes in a year.  Highly unlikely......but the race director in this case when I spoke to him didn't seem to be bothered.....but it was no doubt another case of  illegal "number transfer" which robbed a team mate of mine of the M65 prize. 
        So with so much written and spoken about how many problems illegal number transfer creates it is disappointing that the  highly sought after numbers for the BRASS MONKEY HALF MARATHON this Sunday WILL NOT be allowed to be transferred legally by the race organisers.  It's one of the first things they state  on the race information sheets.  I have absolutely no doubt that being told they can't transfer numbers legally several will just pass their numbers on anyway.   To be hoped the policy of the Knavesmire club does not backfire on them. 
       Doubtless more on the BRASS MONKEY to follow....................

Tuesday, 19 January 2010


     The 5 day forecast for the week suggested the sun would be an absent friend for a while.  Certainly so today.  Enjoy a panoramic,delightful view of Wharfedale as at 3 p.m.  .
       There's even a threat of sleet returning tomorrow!

       But back to the running.............last year's routine would be have seen me off road again today probably down at 9.30 pace and I must admit I was tempted to drive over to Swinsty/ Fewston.  But, contrary to much advice for the aged,  I said I would reintroduce the faster paced road runs this year so that policy was maintained today .......
despite having done so much road in the last 3 weeks. Yesterday's recovery run and "icing" on the legs seemed to have worked quite well as I managed 8 miles OK  with miles 4.5 and 6 brisk.  I say brisk but as my Garmin decided to have a rest day I have no times recorded to show for the effort.

And finally.....I leave you with a view of Denton from Ben Rhydding this afternoon!

Monday, 18 January 2010


   Well, today's outing didn't require a lot of thought.  After yesterday's 13 miler including 3.2 of uphill running it would have to  be as flat as possible, as much offroad as possible and be achieved with as little effort as possible.  Easy, recovery runs like today always serve to highlight which parts of the old legs have suffered most from the long runs or hard sessions.  The severity of the 13 miler meant that all parts suffered!  Calves, quads, hamstring etc. etc.  Unfortunately I only have 2 ice packs.   Anyway,  whilst the pace today was deliberately slow I'd still managed 6 to start the week off.
    Had to cross another pencilled in race off the list today.  Had down the Trafford 10k for one of my March races.  Altrincham A.C. in their wisdom have decided to run it in February.  Now clashes with the Great North West Half marathon.  Have to decide though whether I can run the Blackpool race followed by another half marathon (Haweswater) a fortnight later or make the 9.30 start at the Trafford.  Difficult.
   Antony Bradford correctly spotted my paparazzi photos of the Jamaican sprinter Merlene Ottey in her "civvies" and  definitely without the help of Google or YouTube! Well done, Antony.

Sunday, 17 January 2010


As we wanted to avoid the pools on the Nesfield/ Beamsley Road, and simply for a change, Sarah J. and I  drove with Pat through Pool and Arthington. I dropped off first at Pool.  I wanted to do 13 without having to go through Ilkley and planning the run on knew that it would hilly coming back via Farnley and then Newall Carr road.  The Farnley Park road on the Otley 10k course wasn't too bad but I don't think I'll be repeating the 3.2 mile climb from Otley, past the hospital and the Spite all the way to the ridge above Askwith!  The view over Swinsty, Fewston and Memwith Hill, the RAF/U.S.A.F. communications and intelligence station provided some reward and but was enjoyed only briefly, mainly because I had my head down battling the incline and the strong winds up there!

A respite then descending through Askwith to the A65 but still had to find 2 miles back up to the house to achieve the 13 as planned.  Think I'll be giving the hill session a miss on Tuesday after that epic today. But it's done now and meant that I could bank another 50 for the week to maintain this month of conditioning.

And finally.....can you recognise this famous international athlete at airport check in and lounge ?

Saturday, 16 January 2010


In pursuit of some variety I hitched a lift with Pat and she threw me out at the top of Cringles today.  Scant reward for an early start however as it meant starting the run in  the 9.45 a.m. snow storm which had passed through by 11 a.m. when I normally go out.  Reaching the roundabout at the top of the Addingham bypass the roads were already awash. I forecast that the Nesfield road would see me wading through a series of pools in the road and so it proved.  So with a massive thaw overnight the country now faces a new headache.  The Great Flood.  Noah...........your time has come......again.

And finally................I mentioned this week my trip to Gothenburg......if you go there , when eating out make sure you're hungry if you order the FISH PLATTER.............

Friday, 15 January 2010


     No improvement in the iced slopes of Ben Rhydding, but cleared roads from the railway bridge and up towards Askwith meant that I could stick to the plan of Tuesday hillwork and Friday efforts; going for 4x 1k assisted reps....downhill!  A generous 1k recovery but at least the chosen stretch was one where I could see the few cars about and they could see me.  Had a thought on the run.....about cadence.
     Besides the treadmill I have a concept 2 in the garage and have recently returned to working on it.  A few years ago I used to row quite a lot and I found that weighing only 9 and a half stone  to achieve comparable times with heavier and taller guys in the gym I had to stroke faster. So I'd be frantically pulling backwards and forwards  up to 35/40 per minute compared to them pulling heavy 25/30.  I think we have to accept that  the stride length shortens with age and the arch drops. I am  more of a heel runner than forefoot runner
now as a consequence so I have to really concentrate on a much faster stride and arm cadence to achieve the speed. That's not to say I won't be stretching and exercising to maintain knee lift anh stride length. Honest.
        Yesterday's quiz question.....Antony Bradford was correct with the result of that Zola Budd/ Mary Decker Olympic clash in which the medallists were largely overlooked particularly G.B. silver medallist Wendy Sly.  See his comment for full details......

P.S. I've just had a look at the 60-69 10000 metres lightweight Concept 2 rankings for 2009 for G.B.  Interesting to see an old Valley Stirider colleague, Tony Haygarth, is ranked at 21 with 47:20.8.  Could be a new challenge for me seeing as I can't make the running rankings?!

Thursday, 14 January 2010


Back on the treadmill this morning and back watching more of the 1984 Olympics film. Next up was the fascinating epic decathlon head to head between Daley Thompson and the German Jurgen Hingsen. In which, of course, the multi-talented Thompson finally overcame the obstinately resilient German who battled for the most part of the two day event with a knee injury.  I didn't quite mix in the same upper echelons of GB athletics as Daley but I did meet him at the World Athletics Championships in Gothenburg in 1995.  He insisted on having his picture taken with could I refuse. From our tops you can work out who funded the trip..............thank you adidas.      The decathlon coverage was followed by the WOMENS 3000 MTS. You will  no doubt recall the controversy surrounding the collision between the local favourite MARY DECKER (U.S.A.) and the barefooted ZOLA BUDD (G.B./ SOUTH AFRICA). With just over 2 laps to go Decker fell on to the infield, distraught and out of the Olympic final as the rest of the field raced on.  An incident well remembered by so many. 
But............can you name the gold, silver and bronze in the race?

Wednesday, 13 January 2010


I'm sat here at the desk whilst watching BBC Look North.  They are reporting on the traumatic effects of the freezing rain which fell in the region overnight,  largely on (seemingly) ungritted roads.   Multiple pile ups, people crossing black iced roads by crawling on hands and knees!  I knew there would be a problem as soon as I left the house and found the car cover which I'd managed to put on yesterday, totally iced up.  Now they are saying the roads were griitted but the freezing rain washed it away!  Anyway, never one to give up easily I descended the ice slopes of Ben Rhydding  very cautiously;  crossed the toll bridge and found the road up to Denton and Askwith perfectly runnable! Amazing.  I was able to get back up via Valley Drive and Cow Pasture; both clear of ice.  Managed just less than 7. I feel quite fortunate,  firstly to have survived today on starting out and not joining the massive queues in Airedale A.& E. and secondly to then have put a few good miles in when the majority in the region were struggling so badly. Whoever or whatever was to blame.  I can see much interest , if conditions continue, in  these 2 new shoes from INOV8 which both feature tungsten tipped metal dobs designed to provide maximum grip in forest, wet rock, snow and ice!  Could be time to get a grip!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010


Apologies for the quality of today's photo but then again it is from the Telegraph & Argus dated April 9th 1984.  The eagle eyed reader may perhaps spot that the building top left is in the grounds of the Ilkley Lido and more mature readers will recognise the event starting ............the ILKLEY 8 MILE road race. I think this was the second running of the event initiated by Ilkley Round Table.  They had originally talked about an all age Fun Run but when I pointed out to them that club runners couldn't and wouldn't run against children it agreed that it would be best to have a properly registered A.A.A. race and a separate fun run, mainly for kids.  The route for the 8 miler was, from the Lido left to Carter's Lane,  up Carter's Lane,  across onto Slates Lane, towards the monastery, left down the steep Langbar Road,  Denton Road back to the Lido........and repeat! Nice one!   By the early '90s the event became the ILKLEY 10K..........same start but up to Askwith and back...........but that eventually proved unpopular with Ilkley churchgoers we have the ILKLEY TRAIL RACE. The involvement of the Round table is no more.
          All this came to mind on today's run.   I decided to incorporate 3 long hill efforts into an 8 miler and Carter's Lane was the first of them followed by two efforts on Hardings Lane up towards a very cold and windy Langbar. Hence memories of the ILKLEY 8.  Coming down Hardings Lane I ran past the point where the Trail Race crosses the road and enters the field.  At the moment the stile is blocked by a pile of cleared snow 10 feet high!  Sure race organiser Lawrence B. needed worry!
         Could you spot the winner of the 1984 race?  Not Guiseley English international, David Slater leading here, but the Liverpool Harrier,  John Kelly, next to him. He ran the tough 8 miler in 38.30.  Me? Just behind him on the photo........5th in 41.34.   John is still running with Penny Lane Striders. But whereas I have retained my svelte figure (OK!) he has filled out somewhat.  Unlike Dave Slater, John to his credit is still competing and happy to finish down the field at my level now.  He still enjoys coming over from Merseyside to Yorkshire, running the Arncliffe Fete 4 regularly.  Reader Martin Lister will have spotted himself....number 296.....20th. in 43.57 just behind Brian Miller, still turning out for Harrogate.

Monday, 11 January 2010


Toed the line for my run this morning with some of the great 5K track stars of the 1980s.  Dave Moorcroft,Said Aouita , Tim Hutchings, Marcus Ryffel, John Walker etc. I stuck the video 16 DAYS OF GLORY in the slot to ease the burden of time on the treadmill. It's the STORY OF THE 1984 LOS ANGELES OLYMPICS. This official film started with the background to DAVE MOORCROFT'S appearance at the games. How, having set the World Record for 5000 metres on the track in Oslo (7th July 1982), (13.00.41) he was then beset with injuries before the games. The film shows him easily making the final but that race resulted in a reoccurence of a chronic pelvic injury.  As Said Aouita flies away to win gold in 13.05.5 (Olympic Record) Dave Moorcroft is shown valiantly limping on to avoid being lapped by the Moroccan.......which he does,  to the consolation of family and friends watching.....and his World record remained intact!  It's no longer standing of course.  But hard to believe that it is still the British record.....from 1982!!  Is this the year we'll see MO FARAH (seen here proudly wearing his Fastrax club vest!) step up to the mark and go under 13 minutes. Judging by the problems  young MO has had in his last 2 cross country races I would hesitate to put money on it.  Finishing concerningly distressed in Edinburgh at the weekend  I would certainly be considering asthma as a possible problem. But what do I know, I'm sure he has a very good team behind him looking into what's happening.  Me?  Well I  felt  I was running just as fast as Said Aouita............just puzzled it took me twice as long to complete the 5k!!?

Sunday, 10 January 2010


Traditionally Sunday is forced to be a significant day training wise if there's no race on. But for th'auld beggars like myself,  semi-retired and flexible, having paid our dues workwise,  on occasions like this.....when the weather plays havoc with routine anyway......we can rightly say we have banked sufficient miles previously in the week to make Sunday........a day of rest.   As those who know me well, a rest day means a run of 3 or 4 miles.   As it was, being the pedant I am, 4.5 miles would give me 50 miles for the week.  So, of course, today it was 4.5 more , no less.  Sad...but there you are.
    Week 2 of the year completed.  Forecasts for next week indicate slightly higher temperatures but means we say be saying goodbye to the sun.

Saturday, 9 January 2010


Given "normal" weather conditions I would have waited until Sunday for the longest run of the week. However, with only a sprinkling of snow overnight, no sign of the forecast wind and by late morning the sun out in full force I decided to set out today. Pat and I parked at the toll bridge to avoid the Ben Rhydding traffic and headed towards Ilkley.  Single file to the Old Bridge but beyond the golf club none of the overnight snow had settled and underfoot conditions were pretty good all things considered all the way to the A59.  So the old Beamsley Bash route plus to make a 12 miler.  Not a long run in marathon preparation terms but if I was forced to classify the pace according to the chart as shown here it would have been EZ!  Probably the best option at this stage. If you are heading out for a longer run tomorrow, you marathon lads and lasses, study your options........but I'd give RTYP run 'til you puke! a miss; RTYS 'til   you slip maybe!        

 It was a great run on the Beansley Bash this morning. Virtually free of traffic and with no danger of a phalanx of 30 or so cyclists coming around the bends! Quite a funny  incident as I approached Beamsley Village today.  With a shoelace coming undone I stopped and put my foot up on a gate. Bending over I could hear heaving breathing coming from behind and above me.  Turned around to find this "amigo" (that was written on his coat!) had come over to check out what was going on and was quite happy to pose for a quick shot.

Friday, 8 January 2010


With the north side of the Wharfe valley basking  in glorious sunshine for yet another day (see today's photo) beyond the bridge at Ben Rhydding the roads posed  no problems at all.  I turned right having crossed the bridge and ran up to Askwith which I haven't done for years.  Roads perfectly clear except for a bit of slush in the village. Very few cars of course.Carried on to Weston village where I turned and ran 3 miles at a brisk pace back to the bridge, ending with a half mile jog. Pleased to back running at a respectable pace. Suspect the roads would have been good all the way to Otley but ran out of time to find out. Perhaps a route for a longer run over the weekend.  I did feel a couple of tweaks  in the hamstring today; probably not helped by the snow shovelling as much as the road running,
but on balance I'd rather stay on these clear roads than risk falling on the trail and suffering a fracture.    So the sun shines on the righteous of Beamsley, Langbar, Middleton, Denton and Askwith but it's still another world on our side of the valley! Little or no sign of a thaw with the sun not reaching high enough to clear the moor.     These icicles have formed as water coming out of the soffit vents has trickled down and frozen. The longest is over a metre now.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               an   

Thursday, 7 January 2010


I felt compelled today to say hello again to my new friend, Jock.  We became acquainted yesterday as I did the hill session up the road adjacent to his field in Denton.  Didn't have the camera with me yesterday, so as the road up to the village was totally free of slush and snow today, it was no trouble to deviate and see if he would pose for a nice shot in the snow.  Feel a bit sorry for him really but at least the sun was high in a cloudless sky and would have been offering some warmth.  From there I turned left towards Askwith for a mile or so and again the road was perfectly clear. Good work again by N.Yorks or Harrogate gritters I guess.  Other key roads in Ilkley controlled by Bradford Met are not as good. But they are runnable if you have some grip on your road shoe. I'm using a Nike Pegasus with the support from my Somnio shoe in.  Managed another 8 miles today.But  I would say no problems for anyone running tonight in the town. we've had no snow all day, plenty of roads are clear.....just remember your HI-VIZ gear!    And finally, a message for you cricketers out there....tonight's nets session is OFF!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010


Without doubt when we learn about the premature deaths of fellow runners particularly those we have admired for their ability and their longevity,  we are forced to query the legitimacy of all our efforts.     You may recall when I asked those 11 year olds why they were running a marathon around Nelson track at their age,  one said because it was a challenge, the other said to keep fit.  To me that epitomised what it's all about.  The racing is the challenge, the training is geared to that goal and the bonus, the extrinsic  benefit, not the end in itself, is keeping fit.       We have to cling to the belief that as long as we are careful and cautious, setting realistic sensible goals  in our approach,  our running is beneficial to our physical and mental well being in the short and long term. Keep the faith! But also keep using the lip balm and the moisturiser! That includes you girls!   I hope you are all managing to at least tick over in this difficult period . Having taken to the treadmill yesterday and with the forecast indicating sunny intervals for today I ventured out late morning hoping the gritters would have had time to do their thing.  The roads this side of the valley were  worse than ever but thanks to N.Yorks efforts found a good stretch of road up to Denton village for a reasonable hill session.  I spoke to a griitting driver at lunchtime and he told me they had been working throughout the night and would continue. So with liitle or no snow in Ilkley this afternoon conditions in the town tonight should not be too bad  but only on the road. Good luck!  Take care!  

Monday, 4 January 2010


I have to agree that having been a veteran runner for over 20 years age group comparisons and race position do tend to dominate my evaluations particularly at this time when looking back at the last decade. That's not to say that I don't keep an eye on where younger "rivals" have finished in races or what percentage of the field have beaten me. I do. I was quite pleased to finish in the top 50 of 387 at Great Langdale 10K, for example. But comparisons with other 60 year olds are inevitable and offer no simple answers and certainly no easy guide as to the future for any of you younger readers, I'm afraid.  The most memorable statement ref. aging and declinine in performance came from Gerry Spink of Bingley Harriers.  He was an incredible veteran runner at his best. For example, in 1985 he ran 56.33 for 10 miles as a M50. He "warned" me that I would peak then slow down by 30 seconds per year for a 10k as the years rolled by.  Of course, he will have said that to many younger runners and had a whole array of reactions.  Some of the very best, particularly international class, are not prepared to finish down the field and even if they don't stop running, they stop racing.  If they have no chance of an outright win they don't want to compete.  Think Ovett, Coe, Foster, Bedford, Cram etc. etc. and so many local top flight runners I've battled with over the years at Sale, Bingley and Valley Striders, no longer competing. Then again, I have seen many rekindle the flame  and make amazing comebacks. Refreshed and revitalised they return to perform better than ever.  Hardly a supervet I agree, but Andrew Pearson of Longwood is a fine example of this; back illuminating  the West Yorkshire distance scene.
       Several top veterans of today are actually running almost as well as they have ever done. Presumably, either retirement or grown up families or divorce(!) enabling them to devote more time than they had been able to previously.  Then there are the very late starters. I don't mind being beaten by guys with a great pedigree, even those who I use to beat like Chris Gill, Ben Grant or Alan Hudson of Wesham but have to think how good some guys could have been when they are the winning M60 category and setting PBs.!  generally they have come from a successful career in another sport like cycling.   Sadly, there are also those who are no longer with us. Including, my best friend and former Valley Strider, Hilary McEwan  who is dearly missed and, of course, Ken Moss who I wrote about yesterday.
As for me,  I think 9 years of the last decade went very much as old Gerry had predicted.  In 1999, at the age of 50 I had slowed to 34.58 at Salford 10K (from a best of 31), 58.31 for Thirsk 10 and 76.16 for the half.  2008, saw me running a 40 minute 10K, 66.49 for 10 and 88.54.  So much as one might have expected. But the last year of the decade in comparison has seen a decline in the decline!  Semi-retired and enjoying my training more than ever, I certainly don't want to take a break.   It's not as is I'm still running 70,80 or 90 miles per week.  Perhaps those lads who I was racing shoulder to shoulder with 10 years ago are not living the life of sex, drugs and rock and roll that I am.  Perhaps cut out the rock and roll.  
No,  with a greater commitment to self and a tweaking of the weekly routine  I am convinced that the slide can be halted in 2010.   Meanwhile, I give thanks that I am in a postion to be able to sit here and do this review and discuss the future. So many others aren't.   And finally, that anti-fatigue moisturising lotion that Pat bought me for my birthday is really working . Just look how young I look in this recent photo!


A trio enjoy a snowball fight on the hillside above Middleton Woods with views over to the Cow and calf Rocks of  Ilkley.

The decision to evacuate from the Lakes on Saturday certainly proved to be the right one as the weather deteriorated by late afternoon with a return of the dreaded white stuff. Those setting out early on Sunday (8 a.m. !) will have enjoyed fresh snow to run on but I rarely run on an empty stomach nowadays so by late morning when I started out, the gritted roads were turning to slush. Still I managed to get in a hilly 10 miles to bring up the total for week 1,  2010 to 50.  Nothing really pacy but included a good hill session; so a reasonable start all things considered.
    Considered going on the treadmill today but was lured back towards the Middleton side of town by the view of glorious late morning sunshine.  The temperature difference over there compared to the Ben Rhydding side is amazing.  Managed a flat 7, thinking all the while how much more difficult running will be for those venturing out tonight.  The 5 day weather indicates no real improvement; so looks like we will be enjoying excellent sledging conditions for the rest of the week. Great! If you've children; which I haven't. Take care!
    Tomorrow, I'll be reviewing the last decade and reflecting on how the fortunes of my peers have varied so much.  One runner I would have mentioned would have been Ken Moss (Northern Vets.) who has been on the Northern running scene for as long as I have I would say. He finished one place behind me in the London marathon 1983 in 2:25.41.  Whilst my times have declined, Ken maintained an incredible standard; running 17.05 and 35.29 at the age of 57.  He ran over 30 races in 2008 but only 2 in 2009, so presumably he had been ill last year. Sadly, he died over Christmas at his home in Cheshire.  He was a great character. Always friendly at events and always had time for people. He will be greatly missed.

Saturday, 2 January 2010


     As U.S. President wrote in his letter to B.H. Latrobe in 1818,                 "Of all the faculties of the human mind that of memory is the first which suffers decay with age"    But no matter how much we try to forget birthdays, particularly at the age of 61, someone near and dear to us will burst into the bedroom with an arm full of cards and presents.  I say armfull, more like a handfull!  I look forward to reading Paul Scholes's autobiography as he's from the same part of Manchester as myself.  Saw the New Year in and started the birthday in the Lakes which was already snow bound. As with most places, the  main roads were cleared but side roads and pavements still had inches of compact ice and were highly dangerous particularly for hundreds of visitors to Lake Windermere.

With the forecast of more snow to come we decided to make our escape whilst we could. Not before we had had a visit from some friendly "deer" neighbours!

We enjoyed a good journey back whilst hearing on the radio about  horrendous conditions to the west of us in Lancashire and to the east of us in the Northumberland. For today's run I jumped out of the car  at the top of Addingham and  ran the last 6 miles into Ilkley.   And finally......
Another U.S. President John Adams 1797-1801 wrote on age
"I have lived in this old and frail tenement a great many years: it is very much dilapidated ; and from all that I can learn my landlord doesn't intend to repair it"  
Which I think basically means look after yourself because no one else is going to do it for you!   Enough now. I'm off to use another present from Pat. L'Oreal Man Expert Hydra Energetic Daily Anti-Fatigue Moisturising Lotion with Vitamin C.  I think she thinks it'll make me into a "toy boy"