Thursday 21 May 2020

Still plodding on......

Since the sad demise of my good friend, Peter Dibb, the world is an emptier place.  He was a big part of my running life for 30 years.  We'd travelled hundreds of miles together to train and race.  He'd visit me each Thursday for a cup of tea and a chat about all things running   After his stroke and a spell in hospital he'd phone regularly with updates on his health and to ask what I was doing.   He  left an awful big hole which can never be filled.
Old Runningfox - plodding on  (Click to enlarge)
Many of our contemporaries we raced, ran and bantered with have also died or fallen by the wayside.  A tiny handful are still active, albeit very slowly.   Surprisingly, I'm one of them. 
It's not hard getting out of bed when mornings are so light, though sunrise is a little too early for me now.
The weather changed remarkably in a fortnight.   One morning I was muffled up running through fields thick with frost.  In yesterday's morning temperature I was happy in shorts and a thin top, and the wee foal I passed was too comfortable to get up.
Horse & foal
May blossom is is at its best just now and its smell can be a little over powering on narrow lanes.   Two houses on Castle Hill Side are surrounded by it together with rampant gorse and wild crab apple blossom.
Castle Hill Side
There are so many things to see, smell and listen to  - and photograph - it's a wonder I manage to do any running at all!
Still plodding on.
 But it's nice to take it easy in my dotage, long may it continue.  Not that I aren't thinking about the after life. 
Ewan MacColl's lovely song 'The Joy of Living' has been buzzing around my head a little too often lately.  It's worth a listen even if you aren't ready to have your ashes scattered just yet...

Monday 11 May 2020

Peter Dibb (1933 - 2020)

 An appreciation of a great athlete and mentor who went missing on VE day and was subsequently found the following day in a wood near Honley where he'd apparently suffered a fatal heart attack. 
Peter Dibb   R.I.P 
(photo courtesy of the Huddersfield Examiner)
  Peter raced into my life in June '88 when, as a mere amatuer, I was running the Examiner 10 mile road race in Huddersfield.   At numerous points along the way there were shouts of 'Come on Dibby' and it was obvious that whoever Dibby was, he was just behind me. Crossing the Finish line I turned to see a tall figure smiling down at me and offering a cheery 'well done'.  It was Peter Dibb.
An unassuming character, it was some time before I became aware of his cricketting and hockey prowess for he was an all round athlete who excelled in various disciplines. Being of roughly the same age, he became an immediate friend who steered and advised me in various aspects of road racing and track etiquette. He'd been racing since school days whereas at the age of 55 I was just beginning.
He was a member of Longwood Harriers and eventually persuaded me to join too. Down at their track on Leeds Road I'd watch him doing repeat miles, long striding and stylish. Poetry in motion. A joy to watch. He'd usually do 4 repeats, all of them at 6 minutes each, which was pretty nifty for someone approaching 60.
Later , he introduced me to the Northern Veterans Athletic Club. Each Wednesday we'd drive over to Lancashire to train with various members in runs round Hollingworth Lake, Barrowford, Haigh Hall or Pendle Hill. We were in stellar company - Arthur Walsham who'd won multiple World Veteran titles at 25K and a 2hrs 21 min marathon runner, Jack Betney who'd run the Pennine way, Maurice Morrell, an Olympic javelin thrower and a winning 10,000 metre runner, Alan Heaton who'd held the record for the Bob Graham Round and various other top class runners - so we had to be on our toes. Besides being a formidable group to train with they were all wonderful people whom I was greatly privileged to meet.     
Thanks to Peter.
He took me to prestigious venues, Don Valley stadium, Dorothy Hyman stadium at Cudworth, Stanley Park, Blackpool and joined me at Alexander stadium in Manchester where we tingled with excitement walking into dressing rooms that had been graced by famous athletes from around the world. Such places inspired one to run faster, brought out the best in us. There I had my greatest achievements.   
Thanks to Peter
He was exceedingly versatile. At Track and Field meetings he'd often go through the card running all the races with the high jump, discus, javelin or shot putt thrown in for good measure. 
 An incredible character and a true gentleman.   I was lucky to have such an amazing friend and mentor.   He inspired, coaxed and encouraged me to 'become more than I could be'.
Rest in peace Peter. You will never be forgotten.