Friday 21 September 2018


Due to a wrist injury, which I don't want to fall on again just yet, I've little fresh to blog about.  So I've been reminiscing about some racing milestones.  My running career began rather late in life, a month before my 54th birthday in 1986, so there was a lot of catching up to do.  But mainly due to encouragement from a chap called Alan Taylor who took a jogging class at Huddersfield Sports Centre, I caught up rather fast. 
That wrist  (Click to enlarge pictures)
It was Alan who first recognized my racing potential, both physically and mentally, and soon had me running with a number pinned to my vest. The first milestone came quite unexpectedly a year later in July, 1987.  With hardly any training I'd optimistically entered the Pennine Marathon, a local event with 2,000ft of ascent along its undulating route. 
The Chippendale Trophy for 1st MV55 in the Pennine Marathon
It was a scorching July day and runners suffering from heat exhaustion, cramp or dehydration were dropping like flies by the roadside.  I plodded on and was amazed to learn I'd won the MV55 category with my time of 3.30.04.  I left the field with a silver cup, a voucher for £25 and a bath towel donated by the Sponsors, Ellis & Booth.
 Life was never the same again..
The following year I set a new MV55 course record of 3.05.47.
That meaningless London medal
A Sikh called Ajit Singh, who finished 2nd to me in the Pennine, was responsible for my MV60 milestone in 1992. "You really should run London, you'll beat them all (meaning the MV60's) and be a world champion" he said.  Being out of work I couldn't really afford to go to London but Ajit was insistent.  "You can stay with me and my friends, it wont cost you anything but the coach fare".  I was persuaded.  And Ajit was right.  I did beat all the MV60's to win the British Championship and was told I'd the fastest MV60 time in the world that year with my 2.54.18.  My medal arrived weeks later with an explanatory note from Alan Storey but no engraving to say what it was for, i.e. 1st MV60.   I was pretty disgusted with that... However, just one week after that London Victory I ran the Three Peaks of Yorkshire (24 miles/4,500ft ascent) - against all advice - and took the MV60 title in that too.  My 'Peaks' medal, appropriately engraved, is a prized possession.
At the other end of the scale, 1st MV60 in the Leeds Abbey Dash in 37.28 was another notable achievement of my 60th year.
 Northern Veterans 10,000m record holders
Can't find the trophy!
As an MV65 I ran quite a lot of Track races and was rarely beaten in my category.  Some of my best times were: 100m in 14.9, 200m in 30.8, 400m in 67.1 and a memorable 800m at Don Valley Stadium in 2.28.1.
Still friends.  With the late Eric Smith 
But one that sticks im my mind most was a Northern Veteran's 10,000m Track Championship at Leverhulme Park, Bolton in October 1997.  A friend of mine, Eric Smith of Otley A.C. (sadly, now deceased), had held the record for 10 years and I was determined to take it off him.  I knocked ½ minute off it with a time of 39.31.  I believe that record still stands.
Fell Runners Association MV70  Championship medal
Between December 1999 and February 2004 I only raced once, a 10K road race at Wesham where I won the MV70 category in 45.54.  So, when the Fell Runner's Association announced they were going to include an MV70 category into their series of Championship races I wasn't sure whether I'd be fit enough for the challenge.  The winner would be the one with most points after four races.  I decided to give it a go.
..and the reverse side
I won the first two - the 9 mile Noonstone Fell Race and 4 mile Buckden Pike - but suffered a severe calf injury with 2 miles still to run in the 12 mile Kentmere Horseshoe race in Cumbria. I limped on to finish 2nd and in doing so amassed enough points to win the Championship without having to run the last race.
I didn't race again for 12 months.
MV70 trophy - except I was 75 that very day
With my 75th birthday looming I searched through the racing calendar for an event that actually took place on my birthday.  A flat 10K road race at Kings Lynn in Norfolk, The Great East Anglia Run, seemed to fit the bill.  I got there to find prizes were only being awarded in 10 year age categories.  There was no MV75 category.  Oh well, I hadn't driven all that way for nothing.  I'd just have to beat all the MV70's.  And that's exactly what I did, blazing through the Finish in 45.32.
Weeks later I was 1st MV75 in the British Masters Athletic Federation 5K Road Championships at Chorley with a time of 22.24
Then Gold medallist in the British Masters Athletic Federation 800m Championship at Alexander Stadium, Birmingham in 2.46.11
No-one can say I'm not versatile!
Running into my 80's in the Ilkley Trail race
finishing far from last
Reaching my 80th birthday was in itself a milestone!  I was beginning to lose interest in racing because it was a bit embarrassing being awarded 1st prize in a category in which I hadn't actually beaten anybody!  But I was still a force to be reckoned with as many, much younger than me, found out as they trailed in my wake - like in the 7 miles and 700ft of the Ilkley trail race where I finished 165th of 219 runners in 67.27.
2012 MV80 Track & Field rankings
Racing on the Track at least meant I'd a little competition so I'd one final fling at the Yorkshire Veterans Track & Field Championships and finished up topping the British Rankings at three distances.
A favourite little trophy
In a hilly 10K road race, the Bentham Beagles Bash, I finished in the top half of the field in 54.31, an MV80 Course Record.
All in all, I ran 20 races as an MV80, then called it a day.  There's a slim possibility I might do a 5K Parkrun if only to add another course record to my collection.   But then again.....


  1. Having been injured on and off the last couple of years... and turning 50 next year, I think it's time I looked at track again and tried to run fast!
    You have set quite a bench Mark for me to aim at... dought I'll run you times but! I can try... you inspire.

    Now go run a park run...

  2. I found track racing rather daunting with all the tight rules and protocol. I was terrified of moving in the 'set' position. It's the complete opposite of fell running which is much more relaxed, just a simple 'Go'.
    Do you have Parkruns? They're good speed workouts - if they're not too congested. But it's not racing......

  3. I grow up on the track... am always the guy standing looking the wrong way at the start!
    Did struggle to start my own watch when running the really short stuff and having to use blocks.
    Yes we have park runs, but just so many people I don't really like them!

  4. Brilliant. Your running stories are always inspiring. Do a park run. I’ve done only a few but I’ve friends who are addicted. There is a new one at Cliffe Castle in Keighley, which is very nice. A killer hill each time on the three laps but that will be no problem for you!

  5. I ran a X-Country at Cliffe Castle and was sliding all over the place in the mud. I assume the Parkrun will be on proper paths?
    I suppose you'll have been swimming all over the place during the hot summer? Thanks for visiting...

  6. Yes the park run is on proper paths. It’s a hilly course with some nice downhill. Did a bit of swimming in the summer. :)

  7. I wish!! Old Runningfox your running history is at the highest level that I ever seen in a veteran runner , and in my running life of more than 50 years , also as a club members in Milan as well , I have done and seen everything about running . Hat off to the competitor Gordon for his extraordinary ability in performing , and what's more to beat the 10000 m record of my friend the International top marathon runner Eric S. Indeed you are a complete runner , you have competed in every field , also the track that I have never loved . At the Cliffe Castle we still do the West Yorks. almost every year , my first one in 2001 was on a dry terrain , but usually it is a sea of mud , a quagmire. Antonio .

    1. Hey Antonio, that's a bit over the top, have you been drinking? I'll book you to read my eulogy! Only joking, your kind words are much appreciated.
      Seriously, I was reasonably good in my age category but there were lots of times when I was beaten, which I don't mention in my blog. I smashed the British 1500m record at the Alexander Stadium and still got beat by 10 seconds! Most of my course records have since been beaten. There's always somebody faster, and good luck to them, that's how it ought to be for the sport to progress. Cheers!

  8. I am only being honest , to beat the late international marathon runner Eric S. it is a huge achievement, only few runners can do that , Old Runningfox you are indeed a hard competitor , there is nothing to be shy about . Please Gordon ,do you know the results of Hebden Sports fell race ? They are nowhere to be seen . Antonio.

    1. Sorry Antonio, can't help you with the Hebden results. Being classed as 'a family fun day with novelty races, traditional games and stalls' no-one seems to bother with official results. I've told them they really should, especially as it's an official FRA fixture, but they wont listen.
      To be honest, we've difficulty getting anyone to do anything. We feared it might all fold this year but one or two last minute volunteers came to help us out.

    2. Thank you just the same Old Runningfox , I appreciate that you have tried to get the results , but really for me does not matter that much because I know well I was the last one anyway as usual , it was just to know the other runners performances and my own time too . Antonio .