Friday, 17 May 2013


Nice to sit down and get some time on the key board!  It's been manic in the FASTRAX production room all week. Never been so busy.  Last order going today was 200 vests out to VEGAN RUNNERS in Germany. I thought Germans liked their meat!
   The old legs are only just coming around following what was the 3rd race BLACKPOOL race in 3 weeks. the BEAVERBROOKS 10K.   This mass participation "Fun Run"event starts at the Hilton hotel on the front and heads down to the Pleasure Beach,  where we turn and head back up past the hotel and then turn on the Lower promenade.  The way the race pans out very much depends on the prevailing wind direction and strength.

   Last Sunday's event was as bad as it gets! Cold , wet and a wind speed of 19 to cope with on the way down for the first 5K.  But with over 2300 in the race  (unlike the Blue Light 5 with just 90 in it) I was looking forward to sheltering behind some fast young men.
   Joining the assembled masses from my "secret" parking place just 30 seconds jog from the start line I  slipped back  a few rows behind the sub 40 runners and stood shoulder to shoulder with "non club "  runners already tuned into their music.

                                                                   Having run 43.48 the previous week inland around Stanley Park,  to be honest  I couldn't see me breaking 44 given the strong wind.  But the sheer number of surrounding runners did provide shelter and ensured that the pace never dropped.  Plenty of encouragement on the way down from early Sunday morning promenaders against a background of bingo callers and music from the arcades on the Golden Mile.
  Unlike the mile marked Fylde Coast Running event this chip timed BEAVERBROOKS 10K 2013 is kilometer marked but judging by the splits the markers seem a bit randomly placed.  4.40  4.17  4.28  4.25 3.56(?). I look across to the faster runners who have already turned back and 
I'm pleased to see that track partner GRAHAM CUNLIFFE (Wesham, pictured here is running well, on the way to  sub 40. the first for some time. The track sessions and increased mileage paying off,perhaps?)

What a relief as WE reach the turning point and head back northwards.  A good group has formed and we're working well overtaking slowing runners but the 6th K shows as 4.43.  Averaged out by the next in 4.05!  We're benefiting now from the cross wind but it's bringing in the rain ; not bad for us but getting unpleasant for fancy dressed "fun runners". At 7K I spot  a group of young men I was stood with at the start ...on their  way down at 4K. Hope they prepare better for their "A" levels!
 It's back up the hill, past the METROPOLE Hotel ,back up to and beyond the HILTON HOTEL. 
The weather continues to deteriorate the cheers from 
the waiting supporters is really welcome.  With a quarter of a mile to go, we turn onto the lower walk and the force of the late morning wind hits us again. 
 The gantry above the finish line ahead carries the timing  clock and to my amazement it's only just turning 42 minutes.  As I cross the line it's showing 42.35 in line with my watch.
With another medal for the collection in the pocket  I look back at the splits and see the last 2 K have been clocked in a rather swift 3.45 and 3.48. How have I been able to turn the clock back 10 years and regained the ability to race at 38 minute 10K pace! Amazing....or was the distance a tad short? 
The latter being more likely.
General opinion from those who employed GPS was that it was .1 mile short. 6.1 instead of 6.2.  So in my case perhaps 40 seconds short.  Disappointing given that the race was chip timed for the first time. (The chip being attached to the back of the number) But still it was a great race to compete in. I enjoy the cut and thrust with the young guns.  Several thanked me afterwards for keeping THEM going.  It should be the other way around, shouldn't it. It should be me being urged to hang on to them!  
 Even 40 seconds added to the offcial time of 42.35 means I can count it as my 140th under 44 minutes.The 151st in total.  
 As it's a "Fun Run" the results are published by age group. I'm in the over 55s where I finished  9th; not bad for 64,I suppose.
128th of the 2300 who "ran".
 Wearing our FASTRAX Elite vest STUART ROBINSON won the event in an official time of 31.39.  Racing largely unchallenged.  A fine time in the conditions. He will have taken all the force of the wind heading south; with no one to shelter behind as I had to some extent.
  So my 3 races in 3 weeks completed relatively succesfully, but the legs have taken a bit of a battering, particularly the hamstrings.  There will be no racing for me this weekend but I'll be seeking out more 10Kas soon to work towards that 150 SUB44  target.  


Wednesday, 8 May 2013


The plan was to race a 5 miler the week before tackling my 150th 10K on May 5 2013.  It was hoped that I would be able to go into the 10K race with the confidence gained from the shorter race.  Surely I could run 5 miles at the sub 44 minute target 10k pace?
  So, chaffeurless for once, I drove alone to the BLUE LIGHT 5 on the promenade at BISPHAM,just north of Blackpool. Leaving a warm and sunny Ilkley behind,  the weather, as forecast, deteriorated the further west I went.   Such that by the time I turned on to the M55 strong winds and rain buffeted the car.  Just what would it be like on the prom!
  Well,  let's just say that there are not many races where 50% of the field are seen huddled into a sea front shelter right up until the time when they are called to the line for the start of the race.
  As a nine and a half stone asthmatic the scenario could not have been any worse.  Nearly two miles into gale force winds between 25 and 30 miles per hour. Difficulty breathing. Difficulty staying up right!
  I actually considered giving it a miss with just minutes to go but then again I had travelled 75 minutes to get there.  I think the phrase is  "grin and bear it!"
  I desperately tried to hold on to runners for shelter in the first 2 miles but with such a small entry I couldn't find anyone and rather than being around  the 7's I went through the first mile in well over 8 mins and the 2nd in 7.40.  What a relief to have turned  and have the wind behind.  I was swept  past the dozens of Sunday morning promenade fisherman in more respectable 7.15 and 7.14 before having to endure the final uphill mile  back into the gale ....8.45!
  So  5 miles in 39.27.  A race which did not quite go to plan and did not do much for the confidence.
This was the first of 3 planned visits to BLACKPOOL on consecutive weekends.  The second was to run the ALAN SEDDON "THANK YOU" 10K IN Stanley Park.
  Alan  has dedicated much of his life to coaching dozens of Fylde runners and, organised by Sue Samme in conjunction with Fylde Coast running, this was their way of saying thanks for all his efforts. 35 of his athletes would be running the race for him.

  A  strong breeze replaced the gales of 7 days previous and  running shoulder to shoulder with a young man, somewhat overdressed in jacket and tights, it was  reassuring to see the first 3 miles knocked off in 7.01, 7.01 and 7.01.  Some of those we were overtaking included runners who had beaten me easily in last week's 5 miler.  Targeting 7.05s for a sub 44 it was going well.  
 I was good to have some company but my young "friend" drifted away from 4 miles leaving me the task of chasing slowing runners alone.  It was proving hard work. Miles of 7.08 7.06 and 7.05 meant  that there could be no letting up on the final lap around the track . But the line was reached with just 12 seconds to spare.....43.48.  
 Alan was on hand to greet each runner as they finished and clearly enjoyed the 
occasion; whilst I was clearly showing the strain.
                       So another milestone completed . 
                 Onward and forward to 150 under 44 minutes!


Monday, 6 May 2013


A section of SALFORD HARRIERS' newsletter is dedicated to an interview with a non club member.  They have featured  some of the very best GB athletes, LIZ McCOLGAN, ANDY VERNON,   for example  so I must confess to being a bit surprised when I received an email asking if I would similarly do the questionnaire.  I'm far from being a well known UK international, after all; but flattered none the less.  Here's how it went.....

     880 yards (2.00mins)(Stretford 1967)
     MILE 4.26 (grass track barefeet)(Wigan 1966)
     2K steeplechase 5.59.2 (AAA champs 3rd)(Liverpool 1967)
     5K track  15.18.6  (Leeds Carnegie) (1986)
     10K road  31.30    (Toronto) (1983)
     10M road  51.14    (York) (1983)
     1/2 Marathon 67.55 (York) (1986)
     Marathon  2.25.36  London) (1983)

Q2.What do you regard as your biggest achievement?

   Difficult! Torn between the 2:25:36 marathon PB, the 2 marathons I actually won, a 3rd in a National championship (steeplechase) the 3:13 in the 3 Peaks. In terms of performance running 34.58 at the age of 50 in your own SALFORD 10K might well be my best performance as it equates  to 30.20 on age graded tables. In terms of longevity 114 10ks under 40 minutes.

Q3. After such a long and distinguished career, what is it about running and competing that keeps you motivated?
  I think old guys like me who refuse to stop running and racing are  “sticking to fingers up” to Father Time. We’re saying, “OK, we’re getting older but hey we can still do what we did as a teenager ,just a bit slower!”  We’re helped by the great numbers of novice runners taking up the sport,  as in races we’re still relatively high up in the field. But the key to it all is simply building enough variety into training that it remains enjoyable.

Q4.You have had your fair share of injuries and illnesses, was there ever a time when you felt like just packing it in?
  I have suffered setbacks, but there are countless years over the last few decades when I haven’t missed a day’s running (but I’m not obsessive about it.) I tend to deal with niggles a.s.a.p.myself rather rushing off to a physio.
 But,yes, the series of lung collapses I suffered at the age of 18/19 when I was just making my mark in senior competition were traumatic.
 I recall drinking a pint of Boddingtons Best in the Halfway House Pub at the corner of Cheetham Hill and feeling air coming out of the lung into my back. 10 minutes later I was in Crumpsall A.& E.
  The Morton’s Neuroma was very unpleasant to endure. It’s a very painful growth in the forefoot which I had to have cut out in 2002. Paula Radcliffe suffered similarly. Once it was diagnosed, I just wanted to sort the problem out and start running again.
 The asthma was more difficult to detect and before being prescribed the inhalers I did say I wouldn’t race again as performance deteriorated. But again it was overcome.
 A lot of runners, who have run much faster times than me, have stopped racing at their best. They have not wished to continue competing and record slower times. I’ve just accepted the inevitable; that, except for the late starters, we will slow with age. But I still enjoy competing, trying to beat the guys and gals I’m shoulder to shoulder with after the first mile!

Q5. What do you regard as the best period in your running career and what was so special about that time?
   Running is essentially an individual pursuit but I think when you’re part of a successful team and performing well individually at the same time it’s special.  I experienced that with SALE HARRIERS in the 1960s. We continually won the Manchester League, East Lancs Champs, the Northern and won the National Cross Country. Having said I still trained in Higher Blackley largely by myself. Being isolated I needed to develop SELF MOTIVATION and that hasn’t changed throughout my career. If a runner relies too much on group training it’s fine until the group breaks up.
   As a senior runner, my best period was the mid 1980s when I was aged
33 to 38 I would say. 

Q6.How would you explain/describe the differences/changes in the running community over the years?
   When I started running/racing in 1963 you could count the number of male runners on one hand and one finger for the lady who ran! Clubs recruited members largely by approaching the best kids in the schools cross country races. So the clubs were largely made up of quality runners. Very few senior runners would run over 60 minutes for 10 miles, for example. Marathons would have less than 100 in them.
 But with the growth in popularity of the marathon from the early 1980s we now see thousands upon thousands of people running and racing. A whole spectrum of ability, all shapes and sizes and of course a massive increase in the number of ladies! It’s tremendous.
 What puzzles my generation is that with so many more people participating it could be expected that distance performances would improve as well. But sadly this is not the case. My 2;25;36 would have placed me 28th in this year’s London but was only good enough for 200th place in 1983!
 That year 1983 103 UK runners broke 2:20. In 2012 it was down to 11!
But ultimately it has to be good that thousands are now enjoying an activity which we have derived so much pleasure from for all these years.

Q7. What would you say was the secret to churning out continuous great times on the road over numerous distances and over so many years.
  Self motivation. I’ve guided all my training and racing as a senior athlete. Have realistic aims based on your work and family commitments and build in a variety of training to achieve those aims.  Target a few KEY races throughout the year which REALLY matter interspersed with “tune up races” on the way.
  Don’t overdo road work, don’t overdo track training, don’t overdo hill training, build in recovery days of gentle jogging. Variety is the key. Don’t be afraid to say “no that sessions not right for ME tonight”

Q8.If there was one race you would recommend everyone do, what would it be and why?
  The mass participation races do have a real “buzz” about them and that inner glow on a Sunday night having run a marathon is very memorable. But I wouldn’t recommend doing say the London or Manchester marathon if your other responsibilities inhibit the training. Those completing marathons in well over 5 hours are not having fun nor are they generally running!
 I would rather recommend an improving runner focuses on running an even paced 10K than completing a marathon with a massive positive split. But it’s the marathon which is the “party” every new runner wants to go to whatever their weight, lifestyle or existing fitness level.
 Specifically, I would recommend a club trip to Amsterdam. There’s several races on offer. Go early Friday, come back Monday evening. A great weekend.

 Q9. Is there a race that you have fond memories of and which no longer exists and you wish would re-establish itself? Why?
  Not really. But sad we’ve lost the SALE 10 having already seen the Sale 15 go some years ago.

Q10. Who LOCALLY do you regard as the best runner Past/present that you have seen?
  It’s comes back to achievements and longevity really and who can rival what RON HILL has achieved on the track, on the road and on the country. A 2.09 marathon and winning the national xc, hard to beat.
Q11. A local runner yourself who ran for a number of clubs, was there never a point you came close to joining Salford Harriers?
 When I finished 7th in the Manchester Schools XC Champs it seemed everyone was saying I should join this and that club including SALFORD.
But ALAN ROBERTSHAW was very proactive in his recruiting of runners from both south and north Manchester and so I joined SALE HARRIERS, running with them for 10 years until I came to Yorkshire.
 Returning to the club in 2009 was largely based on nostalgia but it has been put to me, quite rightly, that SALFORD’S vets section would have been a better bet!

Q12. Lastly, please tell us everything you know about Salford Harriers and their runners Past/Present.
  How long have you got? I have 50 years of knowledge and have the book describing the history of the club! JOHN TARRANT , the “ghost runner” and all that! Every Salford member should know his running story.
 I’ve seen SALFORD HARRIERS develop into one of the top harrier clubs in the country. A force to be reckoned with and may it continue!
 Personalities?   I never felt any real resentment that living in Higher Blackley I should really have joined SALFORD. GEOFF DOGGETT and JOE LANCASTER always had a kind word for me. I got on well with STAN CURRAN, STAN CLEGG, ALAN SLADEN, GODFREY CLAFF and of course one of your most successful runners ever ARTHUR WALSHAM.
  I hope younger members of SALFORD respect and perhaps learn from the great success that STAN CURRAN and ARTHUR WALSHAM have had in their long careers. Tremendous.
Q13. What are your future aims and aspirations?
  Essentially  to enjoy running  WISELY  on a DAILY basis in order to keep competing in 15/20 races per year. I managed 114 10Ks under 40 minutes and so now the current aim is to try to do 150 10ks under 44 minutes.
 But it’s not going to be easy! Might give the Boggart Chase a miss this year as that would be one I certainly wouldn’t go under 44 mins on!

Thursday, 2 May 2013


                    as (possibly!) described by a watching 10 year old.....

"We bunked off school this morning so me and my mate went down to the track to go round on our skooters. There were 2 dead old guys there, grey and wrinkly. One said they would be running around quite fast so we should be careful. I looked at my mate and thought, "yeah right, this has to be seen" They reminded me of my gran dad & he gets puffed out getting out of his chair. Anyway, we saw them start at the other side of the track. The younger one with glasses left the scrawny one right away and tore away and kept ahead for a lap and a half then just kinda slowed down a right lot. After a half a lap the older guy, who didn't slow down, caught him up. But just as he did the fast man just took off again! Didn't seem very friendlly to us. Seemed like the younger guy was teasing him! They did this 8 times. Going round 16 laps altogether. We thought they must be well tired by now but no they seemed to get friendly again and we then saw them go off round the park for even more jogging! 

                Why can't my gran dad do that?