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..


  1. Another question: what was the unique connection between the 3 winners of the 1969 National Cross-Country men's races?
    (Senior - Mike Tagg, Junior - Andy Holden, and Youths - Chris Garforth.

    At the time they were all undergraduate students, respectively at Reading, Birmingham and Cambridge. I believe Garforth was one of only six Cambridge students to be young enough for the Youths race. However, as the age group is now under 17 rather than under 18 it is singularly unlikely to be repeated. And Tagg was a first year senior, so distinctly young to be winning that race.

    Malcolm W

  2. Terry
    I was very pleased that Otley Ac managed to field 2 complete teams in the Northerns and that we have qualified and entered the Nationals next week. There is a possibility that I may be required to run (aged 60!) as to be frank we did not expect to qualify and at short notice we may not be able to turn out our strongest team. We hope not to be last but it will be an exciting day out

  3. I remember this photo well. 118 is Gerry North of Belgrave Harriers. Gerry won the National at Blackpool in 1962 and is still coaching at Portsmouth. 765 is Bob Holt (twin of Dave Holt who isn't too far behind in this field) of Hercules (later joined with Wimbledon AC to become Hercules-Wimbledon AC). I ran my first National here as a first year youth. I finished last after suffering with the Asian-Flu. Mike Mills.