DON TAYLOR (1936 TO 2012)
By Alastair Aitken
DON TAYLOR (Born 1-9-36 to 5-7-2012 when he died) was the first UK runner to get inside 29 minutes for 10,000m and, I will always remember Don as an enthusiastic helper to the younger generation of sportsmen, as well as being instrumental in encouraging the organisers of the London Marathon to have wheel chair racing in the event. Don outstanding victory was in the International duel match with West Germany on August 23rd 1963 and he ran 28:52.4.
I interviewed Don after he ran at the White City Stadium nearly FIFTY years ago now. The article was published in 'Athletics Arena' in June-July 1963 along with my interviews with David Jones, the sprinter and middle distance runner Andy Green--The Late, Charlie Elliott did the editing. I thought that, as my interview does not appear to be dated really as Don Taylor's philosophy would still be applicable now in 2012! Here it is:-
" Aim high, but you need the breaks! so said bearded Don Taylor. He was third behind Mel Batty and Buddy Edelen in the AAA 10 mile track Championship in April (63) to clock 49 minutes. Don had never even got under 31 minutes for six miles before, and yet on the day he passed the 24 laps mark in 28:54.7.
In the Indoor international on April the 20th, this versatile runner took second place to AAA indoor mile Champion John Whetton, just one second to the rear clocking 4:10.6. He had earlier this Winter, won the Middlesex cross country Championships; taken second spot behind Tim Johnston in the Southern Area Championships at Parliament Hill and, just missed the international selection by one place, when finishing 10th in the National race.
Don takes up the story " Looking back, I was always the weakling, suffering from colds continually, and I am certain that if nothing else, athletics has given me health, so from that point of view I would keep on running even if I never competed again!
One of the most important things is the health of a nation, and I think that everyone, without exception should do some physical activity. I think that generally our nation is going soft, and they do not know how far they can drive themselves, or how much the body can take!
I am luckier than most in this respect I suppose, because I am a Y.M.C.A Youth leader, so part of my work is my training too. For example I have to include circuit training, table tennis as well as gymnastics, so it keeps me basically fit Apart from that I do my actual athletics training, the running in the afternoons. I'm afraid I can't really give a typical weeks' training because every week is different, and I have to fit it in with my work. Just let us say I run. The main things though are variations in, and enjoyment of running. I really do enjoy my running, its really great fun, especially 6 mile cross-country running, and the track 3 miles, those are my favourites.
I don't worry with diet or anything like that before a race, I just eat a normal breakfast, but nothing else. I don't really think that one benefits from the last meal, so it is better to do without it.
So I suppose my advice to the up-and coming- youngsters would be simply: Enjoy athletics - and that means the training never expect the excuse that you have no time to train, and if you aspire to the top aim to be at the top! Aim high, and if you are a middle distance runner, then aim for the top by the time you are 25, because after then the incentive can go, and of course there are other things to think about then such as security at home.
I think that when you start running, jumping or throwing, you need a coach, he can be a great advantage to an aspiring athlete, but after 21, int he distance events, the athlete should know himself and what he needs."
After hearing recently (August 24/8/11) about the tragic accident of Mel Batty, who had his life support machine withdrawn, I realised we were losing one of the 'Greatest Characters' in Athletics. 'A Larger than Life Person' That would easily be substantiated by all those many in athletics that knew him.
Not only was he a successful coach to Eamonn Martin and Adam Hickey but as a 'Gutsy runner' who won the National in 1964-65 and held the World 10 mile track record with 47:26:8 but, those were not the most satisfying performances for him. It was a race that he was 'Officially' second in. The International 'World' cross country Championships of 1965 (Jean Fayolle (France) 36:48, 2 Mel Batty (England) 36:48 and 3 Mohamed Gammoudi (Tunisia) 37:00.--Pathe News of the race showed he appeared to dip on the line a few inches ahead of Fayolle)
He told me "I would say the most satisfying and gave me the most pleasure was the 'World' International cross country of 1965 when I led most of the way and I ran into the ground 'Great' runners like Michel Bernard, Gaston Roelants and Mohammed Gammoudi. Although I was judged second I think I won the race. If not it should have been a tie. That race gave me great satisfaction. It was very difficult to say but it was a great race. The record for 10 miles was very satisfying but In that cross-country race, with such World Class opposition I beat them all, as well as all the English guys around that time. All great runners Ron Hill, Basil Heatley, Bruce Tulloh so that International was probably the most satisfying run. Being a front runner I led most of the way."
What other races gave him particular satisfaction?
"Being considered 'King of the Road' , winning the Rochester '5' and winning the Hogs Back race three times in a row. Also one year I went up North to run the Waterloo ' 6' in Liverpool and all the Northern runners were at their best--Ron Hill , Mike Turner, and all those--and I beat them all. That gave me a lot of satisfaction."
What were his National memories when he first won?
" I always remember the first one because for the first two miles. I was neck and neck with Ron Hill. I was fast away but Ron was there; then I got away from him after the first lap and just ran away. Winning the National was a magnificent feeling and I will never forget it -- because that's a 'runners race'. That is why we should not devalue the National: because everybody can start on the same line as the Crams and the Ovetts' of this World and be in the same race. There is a lot of correspondence about trying to cut the fields down but we should make sure we find a particular venue which is suitable to handle the organisation, i.e. the tremendous fields, and keep it there. They should not start to cut the fields down, because everybody should have the opportunity to run the National"
How did Mel get into athletics?
" I was not much good at school but what I did have was endurance. I must have been born with a large heart! We used to have races round the block where I lived, about a mile, and I used to do quite well. I joined Thurrock Harriers when I was 13, through my eldest brother Ken, who was secretary, so that was how I got into athletics really."
Geoff Harrold (Born 25/5/39 died 1/4/11)
Geoff Harrold died on April the 1st of April, aged 72 but will be remembered not only as a good coach for Enfield & Haringey AC but someone who enjoyed listening to jazz and quality popular music besides his obvious career talent of graphic designing.writes Alastair Aitken
To me he was a genuine and modest person in the World of athletics. A good Editor of ' Marathon & Distance Runner' and 'Athletics Monthly' as well as being a Vets Editor of 'Athletics Today' before he worked for Dave Bedford in the London Marathon organisation at one time.
As a small boy his hero in athletics was that stylish miler Bill Nankeville, the AAA's Champion of 1948, 49, 50 and ' 52' who was also the Father of Bobbie Davro the comedian.
Geoff had an interesting career as a runner and was Middlesex 'Over 60' Champion for 1500 with 5:14.8 but if you go back to the days he was in his prime, one of the most satisfying performances for him was winning the South London Harriers 30 miles road race in 1977 and being awarded the prize by Tom Richards, the man who came second in the London Olympic Marathon of 1948. Geoff said his SLH 30 result coincided that day with Steve Ovett winning the first World Cup 1500 in Dusseldorf.
Geoff's best time were 49:47 for 10 miles on the road and 2:22.46 for a marathon.
Peter Hildreth 2011
Peter was a ' Freeman of the City of London' and a Great hurdler in his day. I have a large picture of him hurdling next to Harrison Dillard, the double Olympic Champion, in the 1952 Olympic Semi-Finals in Helsinki. Of course Peter equalled Don Finlay's British record of 14.3 several times in the 50's
I think it was special that he won two hurdle races at the same meeting Roger Bannister broke the four minute mile at Ifley road Oxford in 1954.
As a Sunday Telegraph athletics correspondent he came up to the infamous freezing 'National' at Sutton Coldfiel in 1972 when I ran in the senior race. He eventually found a local phone box and filed his copy with the 'headline' words of "Napoleons' Retreat from Moscow could not be much worse than this!"
I knew him as a loyal friend for 43 years and, well after he retired from competition in the late 60's early 70's he would time himself on running up the stairs many times in the flats we lived in Kensington, as well as hurdling park benches and railings in Kensington Gardens, Just for the fun of it!
He was a very good dancer and would glide round the Hammersmith Palais or the Kensington Town Hall with consummate ease and, his wife Carol was a witness to that.
His immense knowledge of history was quite astounding and he could quote all the Great leaders in history, particularly Churchill and Wellington so, it would be no surprise to realise he achieved an MA in history at Cambridge University.
When I did information work for the BBC sound outside broadcasts in the 1970's Peter was the link man on radio at Crystal Palace and he had a wonderfully fluent delivery of words. His timing was sharp.
To finish my tribute I would like to say when he used to come with Carol to my home for Christmas Day for several years and, after my wife Joanna made a sumptuous meal, he would sit in the big armchair and always ask me could he hear that song from Sinatra's album 'Where Are You' recorded in 1957 called 'There's No You'
Maybe there isn't but I will never forget Peter Hidlreth.
Calvin Woodman 1948 - 2010
- Jeff Fenge
- Andy Glover
- Mike Varah
- Vince Hancock
- Dereje Kebede
- Geoff Moulden
- Arthur Whitehead
- Don E Brown
- William James Couzens
- Geoff Davis
- Gordon S. Doubleday
- John Jeffrey
- W. "Bill" Kerr
- R.D. "Dave" McMullen
- Jim Mote
- J.T "Fred" Paget
- Geoff Pearson
- Arthur Penny
- George Piddington
- Charles "Charlie" Walker
- William E. "Bill' Weller
- Percy Wright