Wednesday 13 March 2013


      When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
      I summon up rememberance of things past.....
      Track racing was never my preferred discipline but last week one of my racing contemporaries, Peter Dibb, flashed a piece of paper under my nose that had me wondering whether I should have given it a bit more attention. It referred to my first ever introduction to a Track & Field League meeting held at the Dorothy Hyman stadium in Cudworth way back in August, 1995.  I remember it was a balmy summer evening and we'd some difficulty locating the venue, only arriving a few minutes before the gun went off for the start of first race, the 800m. After some nifty footwork we made it to the start with seconds to spare. I was 63 at the time, and Peter a year younger, but it helped us immensely to be running with athletes in younger categories whom we could use as pace-makers. I was pulled round in a fairly comfortable 2.33.04 to be 1st M60 while Peter was 2nd in 2.35.00.
      But the next race, the 100m, is the one I remember most. Next to me in the line-up was a chap called Joe Moran of Manchester Harriers, a renowned sprinter who took his racing very seriously indeed. He'd brought along his own starting blocks and went through a whole gamut of formalities and foot shakings before settling into them. In the 'set' position I leaned forward slightly, right hand on right knee, waiting for the gun. I'm not sure who got away quicker, Joe or me, but what I do know is that I beat him to the line - by the skin of my nose. We were given the same time - 15.60 - but the judges awarded it to me.  Very much to Joe's annoyance. Instead of shaking hands, the traditional Track protocol, he went straight to the judges and implied they must have made some mistake. The judges were adamant and the result stood. A friend of ours, Jack Betney of Clayton-le-Moors was third in 16.3 and Peter was 4th, also in 16.3. Joe disappeared into the crowd to await the start of the 200m when he'd no doubt be seeking revenge.
      Meanwhile Peter and I decided we'd amass some League points for our club, Longwood Harriers, by running the 1500m.  Peter was notorious for competing in every event on the card, not just on the track but also in things like the discus, shot put, long jump and javelin. Otherwise he got bored just standing around. Once again I came home 1st M60 in 5.18.8 with Peter 2nd in 5.34.6 - another  creditable double for our club.
The 'piece of paper' that inspired this post

      We'd no sooner got our breath back than it was time to line up once more beside the peeved Joe Moran for his other speciality, the 200m. Again, it was a close race but I beat him by the slender margin of 31.4 to his 31.8, to once more take the M60 title. Peter was 4th in 33.3 - so 9 more points for Longwood.  Once again, Joe quickly disappeared into the crowd, ignoring protocol.     
      We later scored another 11 points running the 400m which I won in 66.7 with a tired Peter coming second in 73.2. Whether tired or not, he'd recovered enough to line up for the 3000m, which I'd declined, and actually got his first win of the evening in 11.10.0, ahead of Derek Howarth of Leigh Harriers in 11.46.5.
      There was an amusing sequel to the evening's activities. Whilst I'd been otherwise engaged, Joe Moran had sidled up to our friend, Jack Betney, to ask who the hell was this Gordon Booth? After all, Joe was a stalwart of Track & Field League events whereas I'd never before attended one in my life. I was completely unknown. Jack's answer left Joe somewhat stunned and speechless.
"Gordon?  He's currently top of the British M60 marathon rankings, he ran London this year in 2.53 something"  Jack informed him.
"Whaaatt????" Joe, a top class sprinter on his day, could not believe he'd been beaten - twice in one evening - by a marathon runner.
      Peter and I drove home well pleased with our performances while having a good old chuckle regarding Joe's sporting attitude and antics on the night.  Some time afterwards I met Joe again at a 10,000m track event where I believe he was officiating. His face was all smiles and he shook my hand warmly. He'd got over his double shock and said so many good and respectful things, I suspect my head swelled a bit. I never raced him again.


  1. LOVE THIS POST, I know I have to get back and run a couple more tack races...

    1. Thanks CD. Tracks are a bit boring compared to running the hills, but I believe I still own a couple of M65 track records - both of them set 16 years ago.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Terry, I assumed you'd know all the dramatis personae?

  3. Amazing
    Good Job.
    I am glad I found your blog.

  4. great story - well told.. i thoroughly enjoyed reading that....very Alan Sillitoe :)

    1. Thanks Martin, I'll try and write some more!