Friday 9 October 2009

Gone.......but not forgotten

It's nice to see a church full to capacity with standing room only for late-comers, and that happened in our little village of Hebden last Monday (Oct 5th). But it's a shame it's mainly weddings and funerals that attract so many people. Yesterday's occasion was for the funeral of an old running friend of mine, Peter Wilson, of whom I have many fond memories. It was Peter who first introduced me to all the wonderful wild running routes around Hebden some 18 years ago when I became known as 'the new runner in the village'.
I say 'around Hebden' but in fact we ran far and wide, over Great Whernside, Simon's Seat, over the border into Nidderdale - anything up to 18 miles - for Peter was a long distance specialist. He'd run the Dales Way, 81 miles of rolling countryside from Ilkley to Windermere pacing his good friend Frank Milner and supported by Guy Goodair. He ran the Three Peaks of Yorkshire (24 miles/4,500ft ascent) on several occasions finishing well up in the field. He squelched his way round the 32 miles of the Haworth Hobble. But his most oft-recounted story was of friendly rivalry with another local runner, John Ely, in the classic Borrowdale Fell race, a favourite route over 17 miles and 6,500ft of beautiful Lakeland terrain.
In training, for important races like the London marathon or Three Peaks, I ran hundreds of miles with Peter in all seasons and all weathers. He was a jocular giant whose wry humour and 6' 4" frame made the going so much easier as I trotted behind him through Mossdale monsoons and Barden blizzards. And towards the end of a run, when he thought I was tiring, he'd say "C'mon you bugger" and set off like a bat out of hell, careering down some long slope with me trailing in his wake. "By 'eck, I enjoyed that" he'd say as he mopped copious sweat from his brow.
After his funeral, his burial in the churchyard, and after a delectable funeral tea in a packed Clarendon, I went for a run in his memory. "This one's for you Peter" I silently intoned as I ran up the cutting in Hebden Ghyll. Strangely, for the words were still in my mind, there came a weird response. Lying in the road was a £5 note. It was as if he were saying "And this is for you, have a drink on me". He was with me in spirit for the rest of the run, through Yarnbury and on past Bare House. And as I ran down the wonderful springy turf towards Grassington at full speed ahead I shouted "C'mon you bugger". And I'm sure he did.
Rest in Peace Peter. You were a great guy.


  1. A lovely way to remember a friend. Sorry to hear your sad news.

  2. Thanks Runningbear, Peter dragged me out and kept me on my toes at times when I needed it, thus contributing to many of my racing successes.