Friday, 31 August 2012


On this date 1970 the sun shone brightly, the temperature was in the '20s and for me it was to be a day of great exhileration and anticipation.  By  3.3O I would be married.
 I had only just come out of short trousers, had only just started shaving, had only just stopped receiving a few pence pocket money, supplemented by own fund raising via baby sitting, delivering bread, delivering newspapers etc etc, yet was going to set up home with my  new wife  in another county. Yorkshire!
 Well that's probably how my mother viewed it.
In truth when my lung surgery prevented me from going to St. Mary's in Twickenham  I   worked for a year in a Manchester furniture office, I then  worked a winter on West Yorkshire buses and had completed the first year of my Human Movement degree course at Trinity & All Saints in Horsforth, Leeds. In short compared to my fellow students straight out of sixth form,  I felt quite mature.
 Pat had just finished her degree at Leeds Uni and we decided rather than her go back to Stockport and we continue a trans-pennine romance she should stay with me in Yorkshire.
 It was a bit strange being the old married man (at 21!) on the college course but moving out of college into our modest terraced house over the hill in Yeadon  at least would see me resurrect my commuter running as I did from home to school and later work that I did in Manchester.  Except  the  air would not be polluted by thousands of Manchester homes all burning coal.
 Most of the lads on the course were into football but I did at least develop a bit of interest in a college cross country team and we actually competed in the West Yorkshire Cross Country league which years later I would sponsor under the Complete Runner banner.
 Sadly my time at T.A.S.C. did not coincide with the year IAN THOMPSON came.  1973.
I kept being told about this post grad who was seen "going out from a run" only to return hours later.  When I met him it turned out he had finished just behind me in the English Schools in 1967.  23rd to my 18th.
 I asked him about all the long runs he had been seen doing. He said he was going to have a crack at a marathon.  The race, as they say, is history.........
 Having never raced over 10 miles before and with a goal of 2:20 in mind he proved a revelation running 2:12.40.   Selected for the Commonwealth Games in 1974 he improved further winning in Christchurch in
2 09:12. 
 In less than a year he had risen from comparative obscurity to the world's No 1 marathoner!

Meanwhile,   I was trying to resurrect my running career whilst studying for a P.E. degree and learning to be a student husband ,in every sense.
 Pat was the "bread winner" then starting work with mail order giant Grattan and  42 years later continues to be the driving force in our own business.  She is a lady of great fortitude, resilience and needless to say extremely tolerant.
                            After all she has had to put up with me for 42 years!!

Monday, 27 August 2012


I never sleep well after a race. Especially when the race has been an evening one ; this one starting at 6.30 p.m. from Lancaster A.C.'s H.Q. at Salt Ayre.
I lay thinking about the first two miles run on Saturday night.  Two miles matching  strides , running shoulder to shoulder with MARTYN BELL of HORWICH; him telling me about his comback after several years away from the sport as "life" took over.  Me telling him about a memorable 4th at his local Rivington Pike Fell race as a fresh faced youngster.
  I asked him what he was hoping for tonight. ; he said something beginnng a 15.  I said I'd be "going through"  in about 15 minutes as well; except whilst he would be finishing I'd still have 1.5 K to go!
                 Anyway enough about the warm up what about the actual race?
I lay thinking that it was sad that  with a constant drizzle and a temperature barely reaching double figures it had been  a bit of a miserable,  disappointing  evening.  The block of training had gone quite well since the  July 28 race at the same venue and as I was hoping for a little improvement on that race 3 in the series.  A race for which  the wind had taken the edge off all our times.  
 There were no queues for late entry numbers despite arriving just 55 minutes before the race start and when I was issued with number 30 I anticipated that there might well be big gaps in the field in a small field.  This could well be a test of resolve if I become isolated. 62 eventually toed the line at the start on the Salt Ayre track.
 I lay  thinking then that it was no surprise the way the race went.  Detached well before the mile mark and under no threat from anyone behind.  The out and back second mile provides a good chance to spectate;seeing who is in front and how they are going.
  IAIN QUINN of Barrow is well clear and goes on to win unthreatened in 15:26.  Martyn Bell is going well and finishes 3rd overall, 1st M40 in 15:49.
 Bingley's  star on any surface she tackles, MARY WILKINSON, is not far behind and again despite running isolated goes on to finish 7th overall, first lady in 16:54. 
 I lay  thinking that her  time  would have been good enough for silver in the North of England 5K champs at the last Sale H. Sizzlers.  ANNA LUPTON, also well known for her trail performances, finished 2nd in 17:25.
  Mile splits were indicating that once again I was going to be hard pressed to break 21 minutes but  at least  as last time there were runners to haul back in over the last mile.  LIZ TOMES of Keighley was running strongly but drifting back gradually.   I managed to catch her just before re-entering the track and nudged past one more runner with a frantic last lap effort but it wasn't just good enough.  I watched as the clock turned to 21....21.02.
                No improvement. 3 seconds down.  

Without too much delay I went inside to put on a jacket for the cool down.  I was surprised to see that someone was already showering.  He came out and told me that he already run a 3000 metres and a 1500 metres on the track that very afternoon.  Eyebrows raised!
 But to add insult to injury I learnt that GRAHAM WEBSTER  of Lytham was in my age group,  having turned 60 in April, and had that he had thrashed me by well over 2 minutes!!
 I lay thinking  that I need to be racing more!. He has already listed 30 plus races this year from 800 metres to half marathon. Very versatile indeed.
  Needless to say I didn't stay for the presentation or the post race barbecue which was a shame.  As the rain continued to fall it was a night for heading off home and getting warm.
                         Another fine English summer night! Not!

Friday, 24 August 2012

A busy AUGUST back in 1987

  Looking back 25 years as I do quite regularly on this blog  I can't decide whether I'm correctly "growing old gracefully" as a runner or I'm failing to challenge myself enough!
    Take races.  1987 saw me tackling a 9 miler, the penultimate event of the LEEDS LEISURE GRAND PRIX we'd be involved with since March, the KEIGHLEY 10K and followed that six days later with the tough BURNSALL 10 miler.  This year it looks like my tally with be just 2 5ks!
  Regular readers will recall that in the previous 7 Grand Prix events I'd had to be content to play second fiddle each time to a more youthful John Convery,  who had notched up 7 x 200 points to my 7 x 199 points.  No chance of winning the Grand Prix unless John missed one or even both of the last 2 events.
Which unfortunately  he did. Presumably injured.
  By coincidence I saw John up at Carnegie track just last week and he was injured in August again. Obviously not a good month for him.  Whilst I ground out 16 x 300 as last week he had the pleasure of watching his talented son Sam go through his session.

 The lure of "big prizes" at the mildy undulating KEIGHLEY 10K that year saw many good runners coming from out of the area including a strong Sunderland trio of BRIAN RUSHWORTH (1st in 30:18) PAUL CAMPBELL (2nd in 30:53) and PAUL HARKER (7th in 31:54)  My 33:42 was good enough for only 30th place of 330 who finished.
 At the age of 49 Brian Rushworth ,pictured here, is seemingly as motivated as he was back in 1987 having run 34:16 for a10K in May this year.

  I hadn't particularly planned to run in the BURNSALL 10 Miler just 6 days later as I knew,  with staff holidays,  I was due to be working in the shop.  But much as the weather has been this week frequent heavy showers seemed to be putting people off shopping that day and so after lunch I started to think about driving the 12 miles up the Dales to do a late entry.  A VERY late entry!
 With the rain lashing down I arrived at 2.45,  just 15 minutes before the start, entered and took shelter back in the car until 2.55;  whereupon I ran down the hill from the Fell Hotel and joined the field of drenched runners already toeing the line.  Needless to say the first 3 miles were somewhat laboured but I eventually went through to 11th in 55.59.  "A good exercise"  according to the diary.
    Looks like tomorrow could be similarly wet!  If all goes to plan I'll be taking the easier option of the LANCASTER 5K.

Saturday, 18 August 2012


            1968.  Olympic year. MEXICO CITY. The games of the nineteenth Olympiad.  
Situated at over 7000 feet , Mexico City was awarded the games in 1963 and but initially little significance was given to the effect the height of the venue would have on endurance events.  
  But as the nations prepared, there came a realisation that those living at altitude would have an advantage over those living and training at sea level.  Physiological investigations were undertaken with regard to acclimatising  competitors.  The rather unsatisfactory compromise was  a short period of high altitude training , 4 weeks, before the games!  
  I turned 19 on Jan 2  and already there was talk about how tough it would be for distance runners at altitude come October.  But we weren't really aware just how times and performances of existing "stars" would be compromised.   However, my aims would be a somewhat more humble, lower level.
There would be some unfinished business as a junior and then trying to cope with the transition to senior competition.  By the spring I would be lining up with local internationals,  who just 4 or 5 years ago when I began,  I watched compete  when my race had been done and I looked on with admiration at the exploits of Lancashire stars like Ron Hill and  Mike Freary.
 My season on the country finished with a very pleasing 9th in the Northern Junior Mens Cross country championships helping SALE H. win the team award; just seconds behind several runners who would go on to represent England.  But significantly, I missed the National with a "chest infection".
 Switching to the road I was selected to run with the senior team in the Northern Road relay Champs and we managed to medal with a 3rd place behind Derby and Bolton.  But  the real test would come on Good Friday, the SALFORD HARRIERS 7.5 MILE road race. My first race with senior athletes.
As we lined up I looked along the line and seemed to see nothing but English internationals.  Ron Hill, Colin Robinson, Alan Blinstone, Steve Edmunds,  John Calvert.  Plus a whole host of other Sale teammates.
I  saw little of Hill etc  but did manage a very pleasing  18th running 37.39.
 The next day many including myself turned out again in what I expected to be my first fell race. THE RIVINGTON PIKE FELL RACE from Horwich.  It turned out to be a fast combination of road and trail which seemed to suit me as I managed 4th behind Olympians Alan Blinstone, Jeff Norman and Ron McAndrew.  Things were certainly coming together.
 On the track  I continued to concentrate largely on the steeplechase where I had finished 3rd in the National Juniors  the year before.  Stepping up to 3000 metres went well with a 3rd in the Lancashire Senior event and  a 9:13 clocking for 2 miles was also pleasing in June of this year.
 But the diary shows frequent references to back pain in the spring and early summer and matters came to a head on Tuesday June 25th. Setting off from work to run home as I so often did the diary tells of..
 "back and chest pains, turned back".  

I visited the doctors on the Thursday and was told that I was or had been "near to pneumonia"
 For the rest of the summer I continued to run but the discomfort would simply reoccur.
Eventully on September 10th  having failed to run a mile,  we returned once more to the doctors and we more or less had to demand an x-ray.   Late that afternoon, the x-ray revealed that my left lung had completely collapsed!  I never returned home; I was taken immediately to another hospital where they put a tube through my left chest to take air from above the lung so that it could reinflate.
 I was still in hospital when the MEXICO CITY games began .   But  by the time the athletics started I was allowed out of bed.   I was very keen of course to watch the 3000 metre steeplechase final,  particularly as some of the times being recorded weren't much faster than those I'd been doing!  The altitude was taking its toll.
 The only problem was the race would take place around midnight!  I had to enlist the cooperation of the night nurse who kindly agreed to wheel the small (black and white) TV into the corner of the ward.  She pulled the screens around and we would watch the race together,  without sound of course.

It was a KENYAN 1-2 for AMOS BIWOTT and BEN KOGO IN 8:51, 21 seconds slower than in 1964 and 30 seconds slower than in '72.  The Kenyans had arrived. 
  But sadly for me Olympic year 1968 was a traumatic one. A year which started so well but came to a depressing halt in June.  I spent 6 weeks in Monsall Hospital in Manchester; 6 weeks being fought over by a physician who wanted the lung to reinflate  his way and a surgeon who wanted to cut me up.  

 The surgeon would eventually get his way.....the following year.  There was more trauma to come.

Friday, 17 August 2012


The RONHILL SALE 5K SIZZLERS are one of several midweek 5K series which prove very attractive to hundreds of runners,  despite the attraction of the free Saturday morning parkruns.  Many of course will run a midweek 5K then a local Saturday event as well!  The Saturday morning events do become quite addictive, I believe.
 The driving force behind the Sale Harrier promotions is FECHIN Mc CORMICK and he must have been especially pleased last night when 510 finished the 4th and final Sizzler event;   well up on the 387 who completed  the first event. 
A very nice thought for last night's event,  to coincide with the LONDON 2012 OLYMPICS,  was to invite several North West Olympians from the past  plus STUART STOKES who competed in the 2012 Olympic steeplechase.    MICHELLE SCUTT, SUE CREHAN, DIANE MODAHL, RON HILL, ALAN BLINSTONE and JEFF NORMAN were all ably "interviewed " by M.C.  ANDY 0'SULLIVAN.

 The event incoporated the NORTH of ENGLAND 5K championships and it was  my pleasure to drive  over Otley A.C's rising star RACHEAL BAMFORD, hoping she would bring back a medal and good prize.  Which she duly did.
 However, Racheal was somewhat disappointed with her second place having run 17:13. I tried to remind her that whilst the Wythenshawe Park provides a very flat circuit, the stretches of trail,  the dozens of twists and turns all add to the final time.  The congested field on a the narrow paths will not have helped either. 
  I'm not sure she was having it! But I'm pretty sure she will be back under 17 minutes soon.    Perhaps having drown in the final waterjump when winning the Northern 2k steeplechase champs at Stretford recently  had dulled her speed!                        Well done, Racheal!

                                                        If you've 13 minutes to spare...........

Wednesday, 15 August 2012


                      THE LONDON 2012 OLYMPIC GAMES has only just finished. 
But how many of the MENS TRACK & FIELD GOLD MEDALLISTS can you recall?

                                 TEST YOURSELF BEFORE YOU WATCH MY VIDEO..........

Tuesday, 14 August 2012


Having done a track session of 16 x 300 reps up at Carnegie on Saturday morning and with the Olympic marathon starting at 11.00 a.m. I decided to split my Sunday mileage into a 4 pre-breakfast and would do a steady 6 in the evening.   Besides he fact that I'm beginning to learn that at my age a track session followed by a longish  run is not always advisable.
 I was less than a mile into the evening 6 miler when a runner swung out from a road on the right in front of me.  He was a young lad of 14 or so. With his earphones in he was immersed no doubt in his music and didn't see me or hear me.
 With slight acceleration I caught up with him and  naturally I asked him what his run was.  He said he had done a couple of hill reps, was going to run a further couple of miles and finish with a couple of fast circuits.
 I told him what I was planning. an "out and back" 6 and as he seemed reasonably comfortable with my pace, he elected to stay with me.
 Gradually I accelerated,  as I tend to do:  I  enquired  several times if he was OK with the pace and each time he responded positively. He was coping pretty well.
 The miles we ran together were quite relaxed and we talked throughout.  We were not  racing each other and I was in no way testing him.  Nevertheless the teenager ran a very creditable 8.30 pace reasonably comfortably.
 I asked him if he was in a running club but he said no, he wasn't.  He didn't run for the school running team either.  He was involved in swimming but even that sounded a bit vague.
 He said that he wasn't really competitive just " ran for fitness" and to enjoy it; the main motivation of course
but I just got the feeling that if given the opportunity he could do more; he was a bit afraid of putting himself forward and would needed some encouragement from others.
  Here was a lad with undoubted TALENT which despite him being 14 looked like it had never been spotted or nurtured . Or if it had he had not the SELF MOTIVATION to take it to the competitive level.
 Personally I think given different schooling  he would have been already involved in schools cross country and athletics, he would have been motivated and would have been receiving GOOD COACHING.
 3 factors working towards "champions" of the future would have already been in place.  He clearly had a natural talent,  by 14 that talent should have been spotted and hopefully he had become motivated and backed by the fourth factor of good facilities and environment receiving good coaching.
 Here was the type of youngster that there is some much discussion about at the moment following the LONDON 2012 successes.
  Rather than just "running for fitness" I think he had been inspired by the London 2012 Olympics.
 On the run I suggested that he should get involved with running at school and even joined one of the local clubs and as he peeled off to run the short distance back home he said he would think about it. Perhaps he will go on to join a club,  perhaps he will have the desire to fulfill his potential and if so hopefully he will receive excellent guidance and mentoring to help him to achieve his goals.
 No doubt local clubs will be promoting themselves to increase their memberships but without factor 2, that self motivation perhaps he will just continue to run occasionally for fitness; which of course is great but I'm sure he has looked at those on the Olympics podium and thought.....what if?
  In contrast today I had the great pleasure of running an 8 on the Leeds Bradford canal with an English Schools Cross Country champion!   SALLY B. , a good friend  who I have known since she started winning Leeds Schools events as a teenager, was over from France where she has a high power exec. job and two children.  She has lost not of her motivation and love of running  despite having run for well over 30 years.   
 A running career which took her from her local comprehensive, to Millfield School, to Loughborough University and on to Arkansas University and her enthusiasm was still very much in evidence this morning as we ran shoulder to shoulder in fine bright warm Yorkshire sunshine. Superb!
 Having run a steady 4 miles we turned back and I could feel her sense of pleasure has we upped the pace to what is tempo pace for me now.   She has had set backs with injuries and leg surgery 
 but I could sense the fire is still in her belly.  She has aims and ambitions for the rest of the year.
             I would forecast a 10K well under 40 mins. if she can find the right event.


Wednesday, 8 August 2012


BOLTON ABBEY are often keen to add value and interest to those paying to park and enjoy the famous STRID TRAILS. To coincide with the Olympics they have laid out a SPORTS TRAIL .  An easy paced run today after yesterday's K reps on the road left the legs a "bit mashed" so happy to take time out to record some of their "displays" which walkers were getting involved with.

Sunday, 5 August 2012


 Not sure which part of the body is most sore. the old legs having run 42 miles this week or my right thumb which has been working overtime on the remote switching between BBC 1/  BBC 3 on digital and Eurosport on Sky.  Not to mention the RED button or the BLUE button.   No such problems for my mother who seems totally unaware that the Olympics is even taking place.
 I'm sure she's not unique but I would say the majority of the country are gripped and will be so for the rest of the week after last night's memorable, fabulous 3 athletics golds following 3 earlier in the day.
 The rowing medals will maintain a flow of youngsters to the sport as Helen Glover did switching from running but I think the sport which will see the greatest amount of growth will be cycling. Certainly if the number of groups, families and individuals ploughing up and down the canal towpath as I enjoyed a steady 8.5 is anything to go by.  A run in bright, hot sunshine. A complete contrast to the thunder and lightning which
put a damper on activities for this part of the country for late afternoon and this evening.
 I had the Women's Olympic Marathon on record of course to watch this afternoon and what an interesting race it proved.  Glad I didn't have any money on pre race favourite  MARY KEITANEY who I expected to blast away after the 73 minutes first half but faded to fourth.
I thought the British girls would be lifted to great things so a bit disappointing to first see MARA YAMOUCHI   drop out so early and CLAIRE HALLISEY  run the second half nearly five minutes slower than the first finishing in 2:35.39 (57th) But I suppose all things considered Freya Murray's 44th place in 2:32.14 was pretty commendable. Again a positive split 1:14.12 for the first half.
 In contrast several women showed that negative splits can be achieved and the marathon wall is a myth if preparation is thorough and well considered.  PETROVA ARKHIPOVA (Russia) motored through from 19th at half way to take the bronze and demonstrate that medals are not an East African monopoly.  GAMERA (Ukraine) similarly pulled through from 20th to 5th running 73.15 for the 1st half and 71.17 for the second.   FLANAGAN of U.S.A. dropped from 6th to 10th and seemed to struggle in the second half but in fact she too ran the second half faster just in front of teammate GOUCHER who came through from 16th to 11th.
 I hope some UK girls who don't feel comfortable on a bike(!) will note that today's winning time was nearly 8 minutes slower than a certain UK lady who sadly didn't make the start line.  It would be good to see PAULA RADCLIFFE recover and start racing regularly again at cross country, 5K and 10K and finally accept that her feet just can't tolerate the mileage required for world class marathon training.  

Saturday, 4 August 2012

What a golden night for Team GB!!!!


Just cancelled my high altitude training holiday in Kenya. Going to America to consult Alberto Salazar whose runners Farah and Rupp achieved gold and silver in the 10K.  Plus Jess Ennis did Yorkshire proud and Greg Rutherford.......well he's always injured....but not tonight!! Fantastic.