News--Bob Smith Manager of Newham & Essex Beagles writes exclusively to Alastair Aitken for Runners Digest
BOB SMITH ON THE SOUTHERN 12 STAGE
There was a close race between the first six clubs in the Spring sunshine of Milton Keynes.
and of course Aldershot and Farnham had little difficulty winning the women's six stage writes Alastair Aitken for Runners Digest
Regarding the Men's 12 Stage, the Manager of winners Newham & Essex Beagles
Bob Smith will give his opinion on the club. The end result for the first three teams were Newham & EB 4:03.41; 2 Highgate Harriers 4:04.13; 3 Kent AC 4:04.25
"Three times in a row. We did not used to do well in that!. . We had a lot of people missing. I was wondering whether we would have the strength.l Then Frank Baddick decided he would run . That turned out to be the big difference. I back loaded the team quite deliberately--- Keith Gerrard, Frank Baddick, James Ellis and Stone. They were to run hard. (I said Ben Pochee for Highgate was making up ground on NEB on the last leg but, three of the runners that Bob talked about did the damage). He said " I deliberately set it up so Stuart Major got as much on the rest as I could. We were 4 minutes down after 7 legs so most people thought we had gone ( I said Perhaps Kent thought that). It was a case of other runners getting their heads down. It probably helps having won races like that before
A number of the runners knew what it takes to win but don't get excited. Stuart Major on the last leg, having run for 25 years I knew would always do well because of his great experience. It was a bit close but a good race."
CHRIS SMITH TAKES LONDON TITLE
Chris Smith won the London Senior Cross Country Championships for the second time writes Alastair Aitken expressly for Runners Digest;
The Thames Valley Harrier, who came down from Aberdeen 10 years go, loves running at Parliament Hill Fields.
His form coming 10th at Trent Park in the Met League the Saturday before was no indication of how he would run over the Heath. Nick Torry, who had suffered with a cold in the week, led in the early part of the race but Smith was close at hand with Daniel Augustus back in fifth place. At the half way stage Chris Smith had a good 40 metre lead over Dean Lacy, who also looked comfortable then came Augustus, Tory and Shaun Dixon.
Smith afterwards said " I was very pleased with the race as I felt good. A big difference to last week."
Dean Lacy always seems to improve as the cross country season continues and was a good second.
His running on the track is also creditable and he was an impressive winner in the, fairly tough, Dartford Half Marathon in the Summer but, his disastrous runs for a man of his calibre were over the marathon this year.He ran 2:51.44 in the London and 2:57 in Amsterdam but he gave a good explanation for all that to Runners Digest. "I have done a 68 minutes for a half marathon and I think I can run faster for that distance but for the last year it has been a really difficult period at work in the Warehouse where I work and there have been a couple of redundancy periods. I have had to get up early. Working on my feet from 7 in the morning to 5 at night before going down to the track. I have not been able to get up and go for an early run so, I did not get enough mileage in my legs for the marathon."
Highgate Harriers are known as the ' Mountain Goats of Hampstead Heath' and, they always make this event their preserve. The were first 'A' B' and 'C' teams .Serpentine were the second 'A' and Herne Hill Harriers third.
Out of 216 finishers the first 8 in the race were 1 C Smith (TVH) 32:04; 2 D Lacy (Cambridge Harriers) 32.25; 3 D Augustus (Woodford G & Essex L) 32.29; 4 N Torry (Serpentine R) 32:47; 5 S Dixon (High) 32.56; 6 Alan Barnes (HHH) 33.04; 7 James Trapmore (SHB) 33:07; 8 Henry Dodwell (High) 33:13.
BECKY PENTY, who had won the first two women's Met League races was dominant from the start in the Women's race and had a 20 metre lead on the brow of Parliament Hill after the start and, never looked back " I like to get out quickly so I am not involved in a sprint finish!" she said afterwards. A group of runners behind Penty coming over the first hill contained Sylvie Lloyd and Becky Glover, both from the wining Serpentine team (Highgate were 2nd and London Heathside the third club). Those two Serpentine runners moved away from the group for the minor places d out of 118 that finished the course..
SYLVIE LLOYD " It was only the third time I have raced cross country in the years since school" said the 23
year old and went on to say "I did run at school up to the age of 13 but I never trained then. I was a horse rider so I never did any cardio training 'I think I am starting to understand cross country a bit better now. How I need to run it and be more confident running out slowly. When I was at Trent Park last Saturday and came sixth I panicked. I was not very pleased and had a hard time. I had gone too hard in the first lap and got slower and slower. Today I was a bit more relaxed in the first lap."
BECKY GLOVER " I found it really hard. A really tough course. Not as muddy as Trent Park last weekend but this course on Hampstead Heath is up and down and twisting corners"
First eight home out of 118 finishers 1 B Penty (High) 20.38; 2 S Lloyd (Serp) 21.31, 3 R Glover (Serp) 21.39; 4 Karen Ellison (HHH) 22.05; 5 Sue Rust (Lon Heath) 22.09, 6 Tessa Hill 22.13, 7 Mariah Connaughey (Serp) 22.15, 8 Lisa Da Silva (TVH) 22.52.
LASTING THE DISTANCE Memoirs of John Gilmour--World Champion Runner P.D.Collier
Review by Alastair Aitken
If you want a book to inspire you to run and race at any age and surmount all difficulties to do it, this really is the one book you should read.
John Gilmour told his story to Paul Collier in Lasting the Distance.
John Gilmour, who retired from competition in 2005 wrote to me, as a 91 year old, in late September this year and said " I jog slowly most mornings and spend 20 minutes on the treadmill.
I go to the club - (He is President of Channing & Districts club, Leeming, New South Wales) - to coach from 10.30 to 3.30 on Tuesday and Thursday."
Now for a bit more about John Gilmour, born in Scotland on the 3rd of May 1919. His family emigrated to Australia in the Depression, when he was four years old. They were then housed in a settlement. The accommodation was a shed with no windows, no running water or electricity but I am glad to say much later in 1940 his parents were able to buy a house. John Gilmour had a passion for football as well as athletics playing both well and one of his good results was coming 2nd in the South Western Australia 10 miles Championship in 1940 and, he could have looked forward to the possibility of international fame but the Second World War came along and he joined the Army. He was imprisoned by the Japanese in Singapore in 1940. He came out in 1945 with a ravaged body, suffering from malnutrition and losing much of his sight bar 15%. A lot of others had been falling down dead with pneumonia in the Changi camp in Singapore but the one thing was he had a special ambition to get out and win a South Western Australian title. On the 12th of September, 1946 that resolve that he had worked out well and he won the South Western Australian 10 miles title but, as he was only just recovering from his war time experiences he felt really ill after winning. That was not a surprise to anyone going through the beatings and deprivation. It was not easy for John as he found he got bad headaches in any glare so, he wore dark glasses every time he raced in the future and although, he loved cross-country running, he often had trouble with obstacles but still he won World cross countries at Veteran level. Talking of cross-country, one of his biggest satisfactions for him was that he trained a Jim Langford who had an epic battle with Multi-World record breaker, Ron Clarke, in the 1965 Australian cross country Championships and, Langford eventually won.
In his career John has run over 1000 races, set a 100 World Age Best's, and held 50 Australian Veteran titles. It was amazing to think a couple of his times in his 50's he ran his personal best times like 33:40 as an M55 for 10k on a grass 10k track which was a World Best at the time for his age group and a 2:41.07 marathon but in June 1978 ran his life time best of 2:38.19...
I can remember writing up the report on the World Veteran Championships in Hannover ( Athletics Weekly,September 1st 1979 edition).I said " One particular athlete instrumental in pulling back the barriers for the 60-65 age group was Australian John Gilmour (60), whose optic nerve was badly damaged through malnutrition in the last war. Gilmour's astounding feats will long be talked about. In six days of competition he ran in seven races, winning all from the front. 800 (2:19.3), 1500 (4:32.5), 5000 (16:54.9) and 10,000 (35:07.7). To cap it all, on the last day he ran 2:52.28. for the marathon!"
John Gilmour was presented with the Order of Australia Medal by Price Charles in 1979 and the Advance Australia Award in 1987. When asked to share the secret of his athletics success he replied " A good back up team-My wife Alma!"
His ideas in the book on coaching make sense and there are countless other successes and set backs to read about.
NEWHAM & ESSEX BEAGLES
BOB SMITH talking to Runners Digest journalist Alastair Aitken for the 'X' Man
Newham & Essex Beagles have had their best season ever?
" I would say so!' was Bob's reply
What particular victory has given him most pleasure?
' Everyone of those competitions have had a different flavour to them.' To think in the last year the one that gave me the most pleasure was the National 12 Stage road relay because we were a long way from full strength. Mo Farah & Lee Merrien were long distance absentees and, we had a very young team. They went out and acquitted themselves very well'
'I think one of the hardest races to win is the National cross-country relay at Mansfield because it is such an open race and it is always very tight, very competitive.You have got to get 4 good one's out there. Winning that in 2006 that was special!
Regarding the British Track & Field League that Newham & EB won again he had obviously got to be strong in all departments?
" I think overall we have got good strength in all the events. We have strength in depth'
'The club has to look after the development of the young athletes so with that in mind, I found the 3000 steeplechase the most satisfying result in our league matches. We have got good chasers in Rory Chesser and Sam Farah
but we had two teenagers from the local Newham area Harun Abdi & Nakola Iddirisu .They picked up points for us in all the matches they did'
'When you are successful as a club, athletes will gravitate towards your club anyway. It is self-sustaining but if there is a chink in your armour you just begin to lose your way and lose a few athletes. That is where you need juniors and the young athletes set up in the club. Barry Saunders, the long established Thames Valley Harrier, said to me " Enjoy it while you can !"
' I want to keep winning as I am passionate about athletics.'
'Newham & Essex Beagles are in a very good place, especially as the Olympics are going to be up the road from our Terrance Macmillan Stadium in Plaistow.There is a lot of activity in the club. It is getting stronger and stronger"
WOODFORD GREEN & ESSEX LADIES
Gladys Bird is an administrator, coach at the club and an ex-international athlete
Regarding the British League where Woodford came third
" We have done well despite the lack of depth. To finish third in the British League. It is just through the boys loyalty that has helped us'
'We have not got the depth in the events that some other clubs have.'
' When I think of what has happened to Belgrave when they go up and down and they were so dominant in years past.'
Her daughter TARA BIRD runs well,
" She had not had a very good season because of injuries. She has started to get back into it and she hurt herself warming up at the Challenge Final and had been really looking forward to it. She is now resting and getting ready for next year.'
Looking back at Gladys Taylor (Bird) the international penthatlete, 400m flat runner and 400 hurdler:-
" I just enjoyed my athletics. I enjoyed competing rather than training. I think my most satisfying race was the Commonwealth 400 in 1982 when I cam 4th in 52.48 which was a personal best.. It just seemed to me that this is how you run a 400. It felt right but I ran out of track. When I came back home from that my coach Ron Bowden said I had to switch to the 400 hurdles. '
' I enjoyed sprinting so that was why it took me so long to adjust to the 400 really!'
PS (As Press Secretary to the IAAA and a competitor in the Championships I can remember so well when the Insurance Championships were full of athletes and Gladys won 7 events ,as she was such a good pentathlete!)