Several times, before, during and after Sunday's SPEN 20 I was asked if I had ever run the event. Each time I answered the same, 1977 1982, 1983 and 1987 and after each race I vowed NEVER to do it again!
If my memory serves me well the course initially was perhaps even more testing than it is now as the first lap brought the field back from the heights to the track again: only for us to have to climb back up again for another lap.
My first crack at the race in 1977 was a cautious one as it came just a week after a disasterous "recce" of the 3 Peaks in which I'd been taken off course and ended running for 4 hours. The diary states that I was 31st at the end of the first lap but as is my way fought hard on the second lap to try to make the Bingley team count, getting through to 17th finishing 2:00.19.
I did make the count but you can imagine our reaction when presented with a green onyx table cigarette lighter for the 1st team prize. Hardly appropriate.
The race was won by KEVIN BEST (Stretford) in 1:47.38.
that this was the pre-polyester era. Cotton socks, polycotton shorts, cotton vest, cotton t-shirt. Fortunately I don't sweat much! Harrogate's ANDY ROBERTSON, running for the Army, won in 1:45.26 !!
Second placer a rapidly improving club mate JIMMY ASHWORTH was to have his day the following year in 1983 winning in 1:47.06. My fifth place in 1:54.17 was an excellent precursor to my PB 2:25.36 London. But the middle of the year my first period with Bingley was coming to an end.
I joined a fledging club in Leeds, VALLEY STRIDERS, which had started up only the previous year with 4 members. By this time 25 years ago, as regular readers will know, in most Yorkshire races we frequently occupied half of the first 10 places. The "work ethic" and team spirit of the club was amazing and as consequently as the weeks and months passed yet another member would come to the forefront and make his mark.
With TERRY BEAN 3RD and MIKE O'CALLAGHAN 8TH it was another good days for the men in white and black.
Keith was a British Telecom engineer and put down his recent progress to being on strike! Obviously he had worked hard and fast throughout the winter but had "put in 400 miles over the last 4 weeks".
Keith (with cap) is pictured above at the 2004 Athens Olympics with Valley Strider TRACEY MORRIS and STEVE O'CALLAGHAN, another member who can "boast" marathon victories.
In the heat of Greece Tracey ran 2:41 finishing 29th of the 81 in the field.
These years in the '80s were highly successful for the club but it centred largely around the marathon. We did compete in the Northern 12 stage the year before but we couldn't match the shorter distance speed of teams with younger runners in and finished just 36th of 58.
Sadly Keith, Steve, Terry Bean and others from that era are no longer racing it seems. Perhaps the high mileage took its toll but no doubt most of them are still doing some running albeit it ast a more sedate pace. After all it was 25 years ago!