Sunday, 29 April 2012

A splashing time at the MANCHESTER MARATHON

 Looking out of the bedroom at 5.45 a.m. this morning  the trees were fairly still, it was dry and if conditions had remained that way then  it would have been a good marathon running day.  But  the BBC WEATHER forecast for the Manchester area would have had to have been hopeless wrong to give the 8000 entered any hope of favourable conditions for today's GREATER MANCHESTER MARATHON. 
 I set off from Yorkshire at 7.00 am and the rain hit the windscreen as entered the red Rose country of Lancashire at 7.30. Put simply it then just became worse and worse as the day went on.  Manchester duly lived up to its reputation for rain. And did it rain!
                                                   Manchester Evening news picture
 There seemed little doubt that all the plans and projections SALLY MALIR and I made in our prerace discussions on Thursday would be washed away on the rain soaked  streets of South Manchester.  Based on her times in a tough hilly half (Liversedge) and a tough hilly 20 (Spen 20) we decided that a target time 3:10 would be achievable  and that would mean 7.15 pace per mile.  Who knows perhaps a top 10 placing and possibly a category win as a bonus?
 I met up with Sal minutes before the race and she peeled off her sodden "binliner" and sodden longsleeve and went up to take her place just behind the fast  men.  With the rain continuing to fall the field was still behind the line at 9.05 as announcements continued to be made.  5 minutes late, the very frustrated assembled masses left and sped out to complete a loop around Old Trafford before looping back and heading south into the Cheshire suburbs.
 Meanwhile I shot down the Cheshire Ring canal to spot her at 6 and 8.  She passed by looking easy and relaxed shoulder to shoulder with Jessica, a young Trafford A.C. runner. She was slightly up on time and was sharing 5th place.  So far, so good. But it was early days.
 I continued on south on the canal heading  towards Altrincham. By this time despite wearing winter tights, a baselayer tee, a midlayer longsleeve and a Windstopper jacket I was getting decidedly chilled and pretty wet myself.  Some compwtitors were just running in vests and shorts can imagine!
 At the 25K point the course dipped underneath the canal and I joined several other supporters taking  shelter under the bridge. We stood shivering  together as the runners bravely battled on by.   The order of the ladies was as it had been at 8 miles. Jessica, the Trafford girl though had edged away from Sally who was now a distinct 5th.
 She waved away my offer of a lightweight rainjacket to help her cope with the heavy rain and gales to come in those last 17K and ran out of sight.  Still looking pretty strong and moving well.
 With the canal towpath by now resembling a river, I decided to run back the longer way up the Chester Road;hopefully to pick up the action again at the 26 mile point.  Dressed for winter running it was a tough slog back up towards Stretford and the finish.
 Within minutes of  reaching that point the first lady, REBECCA JOHNSON, Bellahouston, came by. then a second  and a few minutes later young Jessicas emerged from the underpass with Sally just 60 metres or so behind in 4th.  But young Jessica was wilting and wilting rapidly.
The gap shortened dramatically on the hill as Sally mounted a last late charge to gain a place "on the podium".  I ran alongside for 100 metres or so, shouting her on like a mad man, but I could barely keep up!  I lost sight as she peeled off into the finishing straight still in 4th but within seconds she had forged into 3rd place!
 I looked at the finish clock and it was still reading under 3:12.  But she was already well into the finish funnel.   In torrential rain and high winds from 25K she only amazingly clocking 3:10.45.
Certainly suggests she is in shape to have run around 3:06/ 3;07.
It was a truly  fine performance; a great reward for all her hard work in a campaign which began, not 12 weeks ago or 16 weeks ago but way back in October with the target being to run 18 miles by Christmas then REALLY  focus on today.
  She left the finishing funnel, tired, soaked through, cold but elated with her run.
It was then that it all could have gone so very, very wrong........and I fear for many it did......but more of that to follow!

Friday, 27 April 2012

SALFORD 5K...going downhill,literally.

Despite 2012 being my 50th year of competitive running last night's SALFORD 5K was only my 35th. over that distance. I'm sure many of you reading this know a runner or two who ran more 5Ks in 2011 than as they live out an addiction to weekly parkruns.  
 I should say for accuracy that the race did not take place in Salford but in Manchester's Heaton Park but was put  on by Salford Harriers. They are not based in Salford either. Their base is in North Manchester!  So there you go....
 The club introduced a "new faster course" last night which took out the traditional uphill drag to the hall after the K and was essentially overall a downhill route.
   The start in front of the famous Heaton Hall  brought  a severe shock to the system.  (Un) familiarity then with the distance breeds contempt!  But I was conscious of the calf strain I suffered last time out over this distance at the Moor Park 5K last November in Preston and was forced to limp around to record 23.32.  Consequently having circuited the hall grounds twice before emerging on to the old course I was lagging on several I would normally expect to beat.
 As used the adrenalin kicked in after the first K and I managed to pull a few back.  Perhaps if the warm up had been better the adrenalin would have kicked from the start!  but by the time we'd discovered where they were giving out the numbers, ran around with everyone else discovering that all the nearby public toilets were closed  and prepared generally there was only 30 minutes to the off.  Less time that it takes to awaken my aged bones and cardio system.
 Last night  without any real feedback from K markers and hence no eye to the watch  it was simply a call for outright racing.  Concentrating on those just ahead with an eye to those just overtaken to ensure they remained behind!  To that end I think the race went well with no one overtaking from 1K.  The time was of no concern until crossing the line.
 As the video shows I was back in 60th position or so after the two circuits around the hall but managed to fight  through to 52nd of the moderate field of 102.  4th in the age group and a clocking of 21.32.   Solid but room for improvement I would say.
 Switching the race to a Thursday night ,presumably to not clash with the Sunday parkrun and possibly attract some of their runners, saw the number rise to 102 from 85 last year and once the word gets around about the new faster "down hill" course I'm sure this will continue to rise.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Running Grand Prix.........good or bad?

It's not often that I abort a training run or session.  I must admit to having been extremely tempted as I arrived at the track last Thursday to do a rep session of 8 x600.  As I parked and turned  off the engine,  the rain swept across the deserted tartan track in front of me. With the prospect of a hard session in front of me and not even the reward of a nice hot shower in the adjacent changing rooms at the end of it,   it was a bleak prospect.   But I had driven 40 minutes to get there so, of course, I endured it and as the weather rapidly changed  from bad to slightly better to bad again the session was duly completed.
 Today I was looking forward to breaking up the day with a gentle 4 mile prior to tomorrow's SALFORD 5K in Heaton Park, Manchester.  Ever the pessimist I had donned tights and a Goretex jacket (typical April attire!) but I hadn't expected what was to come. Within minutes freezing, cold rain swept across the fields in torrents.  So much for global warming!!
Not so much as an April shower as an April deluge. After 2 miles I had just had enough.  I decided that another 20 minutes or so was probably going to do more harm than good and called it a day morning!
  Tomorrow the weather may be no better as we set off,  but set off we will. The MANCHESTER PARKS GRAND PRIX with its 5 races prepaid guarantees a great degree of commitment from tomorrow through until September.  Previously featuring a drag UP to Heaton hall, this year the measured course will START at the hall and snake DOWN to the tram station.  Easy, peasy!...hopefully.

 I'm not sure I would have been so keen if the Grand Prix had involved more races.  The PENDLE and BURNLEY Grand Prix takes in 15 races with 9 to count.  It encourages versatility with 5 road, 5 trail and 5 fell in the mix but "specialists" can choose to compete in say just 5 road races for which there is a separate category award.  It's well thought through and with the price of petrol nowadays may prove more popular than ever,  as obviously all the races are in a confined area.  Whether you are happy to compete against the same people up to 15 times over the summer is another matter.
At this time 25 years ago we were well into a new Grand Prix organised by Leeds Leisure Services in conjunction with Valley Striders and Skyrac A.C.  8 races made up the Grand Prix as I recall : races of various distances using Leisure centres around Leeds as the race venue.
 At 38 years of age there was no way I was going to be able to match the performances of 25 year old club mate, JOHN CONVERY. Only thought was whether he would commit to all 8 of the events. With a points structure giving 200 for first, 199 for second etc. one race missed would make for a massive loss of points.
 As expected John beat me by 42 seconds in the first event, the ROTHWELL 6.5 (33.50 TO 34.32) and scored a second win  to my 3rd 3 weeks later in KIPPAX.  400 points then to my 397.  But could he keep it up?  Could stay loyal to the series or stay loyal to races further afield I'd traditionally competed in?

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Success and failure of GB elite at London Marathon

Well I hope JO PAVEY is not a Manchester United supporter. If she is, she has had a very disappointing day indeed.  Having decided to rest on her laurels with her 2 2011 marathon times of 2:28.42 (New York) and 2:28.24 (London) and hope that no GB girl(s) would rob her of the 3rd Olympic place she must have had a very, very anxiuos morning. If she bear to watch at all!
  She played her cards and just hoped that no one would produce a better hand.  She was wrong.
If she felt she held all the aces. It would appear her dream of racing the London Olympic marathon has gone up in smoke!
  How she must have felt when CLAIRE HALLISEY came round that corner with 200 metres to go and it looked certain she was going to go under 2:28. Then to add to her painful disappointment FREYA MURRAY came into view and she too beat her banked time.
 Not only did she decide not to race today but she has not raced all this year; so the decision for the electors tomorrow looks to be a very easy. Pavey has no recent form to convince them that she is in better form than Hallisey.   It will be interesting to see if she reverts to the 10K to secure an Olympic place.
 There is an argument to suggest that none of the ladies should have been preselected.  Times recorded a year ago in  a marathon are surely no indication of the level of fitness for the Olympic marathon in 16 weeks time.  I would have adopted the U.S.A. approach of first 3 past the post selected to race again in August. Plenty of time to recover. If Kenya could use the London Marathon as a trial, why couldn't we?
 As for the GB men, LEE MERRIEN ran 2:13.41 for a PB, first GB runner but well outside the 2:12 he was aiming for and it looks likely Scott Overall will be our only GB Olympic participant.
 Significantly, Merrien's PB time only takes him to equal 73rd on the UK all time marathon rankings. Perhaps going to Kenya to train is over rated?!
 At least the weather was favourable for the first few thousands this morning.  I know up in the North East conditions were January like with snowing returning but even in West Yorkshire the week has been a bit of a trial as northerly brought through hail storms on a regular basis.  It made for yet another testing track session on Friday; resulting in a set of 8 x 600 reps much slower than recent 10K pace! very frustrating.
 But all in all concluding with a solid 8 today (thanks for the company, John) it was another "par" week of 41 miles.
  There's a rare evening race to be tackled this week.  Thursday evening sees the first of 5 races in the MANCHESTER PARK GRAND PRIX SERIES,  the SALFORD 5K.   If you object to paying the high entry fees that many races seem to charge these days then this series is worth considering.   5 races for just £20 for club runners; £30 if unattached.
 EVENT ONE............SALFORD 5K  THURSDAY  APRIL 26 7 PM (new faster course)
 EVENT TWO...........SALE 5M          SUNDAY      MAY    27   11 AM
 EVENT  THREE.......PLATT FIELDS 10K  SUN    JUNE    24    11 AM
 EVENT  FOUR........DEBDALE PARK 7K  SUN   JULY      8    11  AM
 EVENT  FIVE ........BOGGART CHASE 10K SUN SEPT    16    11.15 AM
    Check out              WWW.FIVERACES.CO.UK


Saturday, 21 April 2012

MARATHON least for some.

I was in the Ilkley shop a week last Wednesday evening when a slim, fit looking young man came in and said he needed some shoes for tomorrow's LONDON MARATHON.  I asked him how his training was going.  He said he hadn't done any running yet; he had only taken up the chance to run take part in the marathon the previous Friday, 4 days earlier!
                I naturally queried what training he had done in the last 4 days then.  Nothing!
Restraining the strong desire to launch into a rant about people who treat the 26.2 mile event with such apparent "contempt" I just went about selling the young man a pair of £90 shoes. At least he was treating his feet with respect.  As a fairly fit, regular football playing young man he'll no doubt finish.  But  it certainly won't be a "fun run" as he probably hopes it will be.  When he reaches the Tower at 22 miles he is unlikely to be running and sadly is unlikely to be having any fun.
  So he was starting his marathon build up from scratch 10 days before the event. Very much an exception. In contrast  my friend SALLY M. was bringing our  marathon programme to near conclusion with a mile rep session (4) 10 days before the MANCHESTER MARATHON.  Achieving 6.40  mile pace in foul, cold and wet April conditions should make 7.15 mileing feel reasonably comfortable least for 15 miles or so before she has to dig deep as she did in the heat of Barcelona (see pic.)   Her longest run has been 24 miles which she ran at an average of 8.12. One minute slower than target  marathon pace.  Any faster and she would not have been able to cope with two speed sessions in the following 8 days.  12 x 600  4 days later and 5 x mile 4 days after that.
 I fully anticipate the energy will come flooding back now for her with 10 days of easy running, punctuated by just 6 x 1 minute next Tuesday to remind the legs a tad about pace.
 Described in his book, from last to first, CHARLIE SPEDDING'S last week  before his 2:09.58 Olympic Marathon included 5 x 400 on the Wednesday in 60.9! average.  Long run wise he states "I think it is important to run further than the marathon on one occasion  about 3 weeks prior" to the race.
 He ran 28 miles in 2:55;  6:15 per mile.
 He ran a 5 mile race 7 days before the marathon.  24.09......4: 48 pace
 He ran the Olympic marathon at 4.58 pace.
  So no intent it seems to run his long run anywhere near  "marathon pace" (MP) because after 2 days steady running he had to come back on the third day after running 28 miles with a track session of 10 x 400 , followed two days later with an 18 miler including intervals!

 Going back to the LONDON, the race for the third and last Olympic womens place will be of great interest. Echoed by this week's A.W. cover.  It's perhaps fortunate that the selectors didn't insist on Yamauchi and Paul Radcliffe racing tomorrow as well.   Paula's 72.03 in the Vienna Half marathon was good enough to win and take her to second in this year's UK rankings BUT  suggests as of today she is "only" in shape to run around 2:33. a time which won't be seeing her add to medals tally.    She was once again "distressed" after the race, mouthing apologies to the race organiser. Not good.  The planned handicap race with Haile G. did not come about as Haile passed t Paula after 5k!
 But  there is no doubt that to have suffered bronchitis this year and only just come off antibiotics will have detracted from  her performance and  she will be hoping to run better in the LONDON OLYMPIC marathon.
Cynics would say she had to run to top up the bank balance, of course. But whatever,  if it were me I would be looking for another half marathon to restore confidence that she can run well under 70 minutes .....and so under 2:30......whether there was a cheque at the end of it or not!  
 I would have her reducing the quantity of weekly miles and running several quality races to restore confidence.  To me she just isn't "in the sport" as she should and could be. The pressure of running less than a dozen high profile races per year must be immense.
  As always  we'll be settling down to watch tomorrow's race.  We'll be trying to spot some of the FASTRAX vests we've been sending out out for the last month.  But I think spotting my young novice customer might prove difficult amongst the masses. Hopefully the experience which is bound to be traumatic will not put him off running altogether!
 If you are reading this before running London ...why? should be eating doughnuts!  Have a good one!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

10K Race recovery..according to the book

   Bob Glover in his book, the COMPETITIVE RUNNER'S handbook, suggests that our post race recovery  should be to "run easy for the same number of days after a race as the number of miles of the event".
It's an adage I've been aware of for probably a couple of decades but I would suggest along with the majority of club runners it's generally advice not adhered to.
  When was the last time you "ran easy" for 6/7 days after a 10K race?
I would suggest with so many club nights on a Tuesday many don't resist getting taken away on a hard session by others who haven't raced 48 hours previously.
   My return to anything near race pace has gradually extended  over the last decade from Wednesday to Thursday to Friday after a Sunday race.  But last week following the SALFORD 10K on Good Friday I was happy to comply with Glover's advice.  Few of the 25 miles after the event had been under 9 minute mileing.  But as the toll of the event dissipated  it was reinject some pace into the running;  it was pleasing to thrash out a tempo 3 miles (7.37 7.41 7.07) last  Friday.  It was  7 days after the race.  I could see Glover nodding in approval.


  The first email I opened immediately after the Friday session was one from Dave R. at the club  appealing for runners to make up the "B" for the NATIONAL 12 man relay the following day as several selected had withdrawn as the week developed from both the "A" and "B" team.
 If I hadn't made plans to go up to the Lake District and hadn't done the tempo session I would have gone down to Birmingham.   As it turned out the withdrawals became signuficant  as the "A" team dipped from 5th at halfway to 24th.  The "B" team  was 4 men short in the end; so I would have run in an incomplete team for yet another time.
 I heard the view expressed a couple of times last week that "Birmingham is a long way to go and it's a whole day out".   My reply was that runners will be travelling across the world to run under 10 seconds in the Olympics!
 Still it was good to see that 61 teams DID support the national event including CORSTOPHINE and SHETTLESTONE from Scotland and LES CROUPIERS from South Wales in the mens race.
ALDERSHOT  went up from Hampshire with a team full of internationals to win the womens event. Respect.
  I can't help but think that those who have never run at Sutton Park and withdrew missed taking part in a great National event.   Long may it continue!

The week was concluded with a favourite Lake District road run; up and down the Longsleddale valley ,north of Keswick.   A cold biting headwind robbed much of the pleasure from the upward 5 but true to form I was 5 minutes faster with the tail wind.  4 cars passed me in 10 miles of running ;  surely one of THE "quietest" roads in the Lake district.   
                       Hopefully the first of a few runs on that route in 2012.


Monday, 9 April 2012

Guiseley Gallop video

 Ten years ago,  during  some training run banter when I was running with Ilkley Harriers,  one of the "fellrunners" suggested I should run a fell race some time. I said I would if he would do a road race and by the end of the run an Easter  "3 races in 3 days challenge" was on the least in my mind!
 My teammate thought I wasn't being serious  and failed to run any events but the idea had got into my mind and I determined to do it.
So having run the Salford 10K on the Friday (37.04) followed by the Rivington Pike fell race on the Saturday I lined up for the multi-terrain Guiseley Gallop 10K race on Easter Sunday and ran in a very tired 42.37.
The following year, 2003, I opted to miss the Saturday race out, running the Salford in 38.13 followed by a near repeat at the Gallop of 42.47.
  But time takes a toll and nowadays  after Friday's 10K  it was all I could do to jog 3 miles on Saturday and the 4 yesterday wasn't much easier.  Very tired again ...after just ONE race.
 Yesterday then, Easter Sunday,  Pat and I attended the Gallop to give support and in doing so did a bit of filming.  Hope you enjoy.............

Saturday, 7 April 2012


Yesterday  marked a return to the Good Friday fixture which was the first Senior road race I ran in at the age of 18 back in 1967. Back then it was called the "Willam Howarth 7.5" mile road race
(or the Salford 7 for short!). The race was won by RON HILL in 35.36.  There were only 100 competitors, all members of local clubs,  with the last runner running 52.36. No women took part.
I ran 30th in 39.55.  DEREK WALTON (Altrincham) also ran yesterday as he did 45 years ago.
We would appear to have been the sole survivors with Stan Curran marshalling.
 I must admit to being pretty apprehensive and a bit negative this  week as the fixture (now the  SALFORD 10K)   approached.   The perceived fragility of the old legs  is a major factor for concern.  The feeling being...... "you never know when the wheels are ready to come off".
 The race would either confirm calf problems or be a welcome boost to the confidence.
 I think it's always very easy for us to say we're not 100% and put off racing but  I thought it was time to grasp the nettle and just determine how fit or relatively unfit I am at present.   Only racing would give me the feedback necessary to go forward.  Solo training times are no real indication.
 Another concern earlier in the week was the weather of course.  But fortunately   Scotland and the North east bore the brunt of the blizzards.   Wharfedale was only affected at high level and so there was no problem getting in 4 easy days of 4,4,3, and 3  miles as I tried to ease up for what ostensibly my first "measured" race of 2012.
 All this considered  the check list of kit had me covering all options.............
  Racing shoes and training shoes (just in case)............I opted for the trainers.
 Socks and support socks (just in case)......................I opted for the support sicks.
 Long sleeve and   short sleeve  (just in case)..............I opted for the short sleeve.
Thermal hat and cap (just in case)..............................I opted for the cap
Sunglasses (just in case).............................................Sadly not needed.
Gloves (just in case)..................................................Not needed by race time.
Support shorts (or shorts (just in case).......................Shorts!
  The sunglasses weren't required;  it was a distinctly cold morning but fortunately devoid of wind. So conditions favourable for once.
  Last year I was quite satisfied to open up with a 43.28 on March 5 at Blackpool 's Stanley Park.  So  given  a year older veteran sages would suggest 30 seconds slower would to be expected.  But in truth  I  just had it in mind to keep every K split around or under 4.30 to give me 44.30 to 45 minutes.  Possibly over cautious?
 With adrenalin levels recording low it was no surprise then to see 4.33 as we passed the opening K marker.
(The race is not chipped, so possibly a touch faster) . A slight pick up then with 4.23 4.27  4.15 and 4.23 as we went through 5K in 22.03  and the first lap flyers are rapidly coming back!
  It's a 2 lap course and with the good chance of a sub 44 time somehow , from somewhere, the adrenalin finally kicked in,  particularly from the 7K mark with  very pleasing final Ks of 4.08  4.16  4.08.  The results
suggest I overtook over 40 runners on the second lap as some I was with at 5K finished over 2 minutes behind.
Conclusion?  I need to inject the adrenalin before the start!  Get up and away a bit better from the gun and again make time for a more thorough warm up!  
My negative splits read well, with  22.03 and 21.26,  but that first 5k needs to be sharper to get back under 43.  In my defence I would say "psyching up" for what was my 140th 10K in a time very near the bottom of 10K times takes some doing!  
 As for many runners around me clearly a lot need  to address the balance between speed work and speed/endurance.  So many running quite clearly running positive splits.
  43.29 which was only good enough for 4th of 19 in the M60 category,  242nd of 533.  The addage of year older 30 seconds slower seemed spot on.  2011 42.59; 2012  43.29 !
 A good quality field as always  was  lead in by JACK MARTIN (29.50) followed by Stockport clubmate ANDY NIXON (30.12). Versatile LIZZIE ADAMS, a frequent winner on XC, fell and trail demonstrated  that top off road runners need good flat speed also with a PB of 32.50.
 So that was the Salford done and dusted for another year.  It's not the most scenic of events  and there's quite a bit of hopping from the road to pavements.  But  the course is as flat as you'll get, parking is good, there's changing/showers. It's finally been K marked after years of "nagging".  Prizes are a bit shallow for vets though; surprising as Salford H is such a strong vets club.  
  So a late start to the 2012 season, quite satisfying but room for improvement!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012


I had thought I would be making yet another appearance as a competitor at the North Of England Road Relay Championships last Saturday.  I was pencilled in by team manager Dave Rodgers for the Sale Harriers "C" team. Dave was keen to be one of few teams to show strength in depth by

START (photo JUST LOVE RUNNING)    turning out 3 teams  for the regional event but by Friday it was obvious that a turnout of 36 was not going to happen .
 So faced with a solo drive to Liverpool of 160 miles at a cost of £50 and with the danger that if I ran out of fuel I wouldn't be able to refill with the current petrol problem I decided against it.   If I had have gone it would have been the third time I'd run in an INcomplete team as the "C" team finished after just 4 legs.
 Instead, for the week's speedwork, I went over the Nelson track on Sunday for set of 12 x 300s. There was discussion about the age of the local Clayton team which apparently had included 8 over 40.
  It had me thinking about  the first time I'd run a 12 man relay to see what kind of age our Sale team had been back then.  Back in 1967 our ream for the National 12 man had averaged just  20!!  There were only 3 senior athletes the rest of us being 18,19 and 20.  We finished a creditable 11th. 3rd Northern team.
  With the fastest time for the short leg being just 11.07 (Niall Brookes ,Sale H.) last Saturday,   quite obviously teams which can draw upon the services of track trained "young guns" are going to continue to do well as we did back then.
  But it was pleasing to see at least some local  clubs made the journey over with mainly "mature" runners in support of this traditional event as it  provides competition which does not necessitate a heavy withdrawal from the bank to enter. Long may it continue.
NEW ZEALAND? No, not another April Fool's story!  Looking back to that Sale Harriers12 man  team in 1967,  I came across a report for the English National Cross Country Championships that year which were held in Norwich.    A strong New Zealand team bound for the later International XC champs in Barry, Wales must have requested to make a guest appearance.
With 6 runners in the first 18 (!) they "won" with just 62 points from Portsmouth (including Tim Johnstone and Bruce Tulloh) the real club winners with 236 points.
The photo shows New Zealander Paul Welsh  hanging on to a group in the teens with RON HILL (far left) and ALAN RUSHMER pushing the pace.
  So the next time you are sat drinking with your running mates there's a good trivia question which should bring you in a few free pints.  Just remember to say which "TEAM" not CLUB FINISHED 1ST IN THE 1967 national xc champs.
  They may have been to strong for English club teams but were no match for the England team in the International finishing 2nd with 96 points to England's 70.  South Africa were 4th but in those days the "International" cross country did not include Kenya, Ethiopia or the U.S.A..

Sunday, 1 April 2012


Goodness knows  how the Daily Mail's columnist, Martin Samuel, will react when he hears the incredible news  that one more "plastic brit" is to be added to the list already comprising...........

 Despite 2 Olympic Golds, 4 world championship track golds and 4 world indoor golds, it was the last 12 K of this year's Tokyo marathon which was uppermost in the minds of the Ethiopian team selectors when choosing their 3 runners for the London Olympic marathon.  At 30K Gebrselassie, arguably the greatest distance runner of all time, had surged into the lead and had built a gap on his rivals. But the last 12K saw him fade to 4th in a moderate time of 2:08.15.  
 Not good enough to make the Ethiopian team, but  now apparently 
good enough for Great Britain!  Charles Van Commene, UK athletics head coach, stated today that based on the amount of time Haile has spent in the UK running events like the Great Manchester Run etc. he qualifies on residency grounds!
"We could have waited to see performances at the London Marathon but  being realistic we feel there is very little chance of any Brit running faster than Haile's 2:08"

 Haile said , "Whilst I am obviously disappointed  not to have made the Ethiopia team it is probably time to step aside and give the young guys their chance.  But now Great Britain have given me a lifeline and I'll be doing every thing I can to show the Ethiopia selectors that they got it wrong.  I'll be gunning for the runners in green! I feel I have it in me for one last great Olympics!"

Haile is  desperate to compete in a 5th Olympic Games and show that at 38 he is still capable of winning a medal.
He has amazingly  now been given  the chance to demonstrate that his Dubai marathon "meltdown" was an aberration which will not be repeated in the controversial colours of Great Britain.
  His selection will be officially confirmed  today, April 1st.