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Published by glen, 2020-01-22 04:15:51

Red and black spring 2020

Red and black spring 2020

Up the hill www.hernehillharriers.org

2020 SPRING – SUMMER ISSUE RED&BLACK

Fuelling for athletes MAGAZINE
Lean, green
running by
machines?
Herne Hill Harriers is a community athletics club that
Fuelling for believes in diversity & is open to all.
athletes
LohsnpisdotoroHtnri’iynsdg–gdlpSeoanorsuitotuhs
Exclusive interview:
Peter Elliott – the Woman
man who beat (& Man)
Britain’s greats Vs Horse

What’s in a
number – how PB
obsessed are you?

Red & Black
– the soup

1

Skaiku* iv.
Eyes rest on misted horizon
By Rula Umair answers hidden, unbroken code
deciphered by not stopping
i.
Legs brace, trees in a storm v.
Bend before breaking Breath a Jackdaw’s wing beat
Our race creaks alive Snatching air until
The best thief wins
ii.
Foot falls, sapless autumn leaf
Muddies through winter, unfurls
Again like hope in spring

iii.
Heart beats, knows it is prey
Runners hunker like forest dusk
Each step a twig-breaking threat

Reproduced with permission from the collection, A trail of words (2017) Leig Ort Books. Rula Umair is a Scottish ultra-runner, wild otter nurse and poet. *The
haiku’s once very rigid formal style and pattern of syllables is now interpreted more freely, hence these closely, but not precisely follow the classical form.

2

Making great athletes,
creating community,
connecting to the world:
Happy Harrierversary

Herne Hill Harriers congratulations, you turned level the outcomes of our events don’t matter at all -
130 years old and had quite a party to celebrate. individual performances don’t save lives or cure diseases
Here’s a version of the words that were spoken - yet they matter absolutely as well - because they test
at it. The world was a very different place when the club what we can do with the only bodies we have.
was founded in a Herne Hill tuck shop at 99 Milkwood
Road. Although, however much I stare lovingly at my
exquisitely average results on Powerof10 in the hope that
130 years ago the Eiffel tower opened, the first ship they somehow tether me to the world - they ARE just
to shore message was sent, and the Woolwich Ferry numbers – and people – people like the members of this
began operating. There was no National Health Service, club - matter more
but the greenhouse gas concentrations behind climate
breakdown were only 294 ppm, today they’re 411 ppm It matters too, that we keep grounded. Our sport is just
and rising fast, and the pub – The Bedford in Balham one way of being in the world, and we are still very much
where we celebrated - was just a teenager. Legend in the world with all its problems. Sport doesn’t give us
has it that in 1889 our former club president Waldy a pass to ignore the issues of the day, and being the
Pauzers was bought his first pair of long trousers and fastest, or able to throw or jump the furthest or highest,
coach Geoff Jerwood said his first words – and he hasn’t doesn’t necessarily make you a better person (which in
stopped talking since. my case is a very good thing).

Notable anniversaries are good moments to go back But our sport is an excellent way of being alive: it gets
to basics and reflect on what Harriers actually are. us outside to experience the seasons, it throws us into
The dictionary tells us that a Harrier is: “a person who the company of incredible people like the people in this
engages in persistent attacks on others or incursions into club who we might otherwise never meet, it keeps us
their land” – which sounds like a perfect description of active, and in being part of the club we actively create
what it’s like training on the track on a Tuesday night. community. It also, of course, creates some astonishing
But it’s also, more attractively, “a long-winged, slender- athletes and feats of athleticism which we celebrate.
bodied bird of prey with low quartering flight.”
So, raise a glass to 130 years of incredible Harrier
But however we define ourselves we are more than history, and hope for 130 more (at which point, in one
a sports club, we are a group of people creating an world or another, Geoff Jerwood will still be talking).
inclusive and supportive community. We find fulfilment
even exhilaration in excelling, in living the embodied life, Andrew Simms
exploring and pushing our boundaries. There is too a
uniting democracy in the experiences we share. We all
get beaten and we’ll all finish in front of someone else.

There’s also a paradox to what we do, because on one

RED & BLACK MAGAZINE 3
EDITORIAL | Andrew Simms | Email: [email protected] | Twitter: @Andrewsimms_UK
DESIGN, LAYOUT AND PRINT | Glen Keegan | Words & Pictures Ltd | 8 Stoney Lane, London SE19 3BD | www.wordsandpictures.co.uk | 020 8653 5203

PEOPLE “It’s joyful and it’s hard
work, and I can’t imagine

living my life without
running”

WHY I RUN

For some it’s health, for others competition, but Natasha Lodge finds many reasons,
and none, to explain why she runs…

Why do I run? There have been many of being invincible.
answers to this question over the years, and I would be lying if I said this was always the case.
simultaneously none. The simple answer is
because I can. But people are rarely satisfied with that. Dragging myself out of bed to run before work, or
When I was 10 years old, however, that really was the getting home after a long day to change and go out in
answer. I ran because I could. I was good at it and at the rain are rarely appealing, and sometimes I question
that age mere ability makes something enjoyable and my sanity. Yet I know that I will feel better for having
worth doing. That innate capacity (and I do believe that gone and I will regret it if I don’t. Sometimes I spend
some people are more built for running than others) hours debating in my head whether to go running or
led me to join Herne Hill Harriers, a club that was not. Part of me really can’t be bothered and wants any
conveniently on my doorstep and has played such a excuse to get out of it, and the other part of me knows
huge part in my life that I now can’t imagine running for that once I’m there I will love it, and there is always
anyone else. a sense of self-righteousness in getting home after a
session to a flat mate in front of the TV. I have never
Running is something that flows in my veins, I will run regretted going running. I have often regretted choosing
anywhere at any time and have had to learn that there not to go.
are places where it is socially unacceptable as an adult
to run - at work, for instance. I don’t think there can But why do we put ourselves through the pain? Why
ever be one answer to this question and it is something do we run in endless circles and why do we run past
that changes over time, sometimes daily. I find long our house to make sure our watches give us a full
runs meditative and head clearing. I find training kilometre? And, any runner would be lying if they said
sessions energising and uplifting (most of the time) and they didn’t do that.
I find recovery runs a great way to explore new places.
Of course there are personal bests. We all chase
There also comes a sense of satisfaction and them and we all run more to try and achieve them.
fulfillment, a sense of wholeness in completing a And sometimes that is a driving factor in getting me
session. I find this especially in the winter when it is out of the house. I definitely find it very hard to get out
cold. Running in ice cold weather, but being warm running if I’m doing it just to ‘keep fit’. That is a by-
from exercise, is one of my favourite feelings and product of running, it’s not my purpose. My purpose is
always fills me with joy when I go out. There is a sense enjoyment and that comes in all shapes and sizes. In
sessions I love the atmosphere of running in a group, of

4

PEOPLE

seeing friends and of enduring Geoff Jerwood’s ever increasing
number of reps together. But I also enjoy running alone, along
the river, early in the morning or late at night, solving life’s
problems and marveling at the beauty of Hammersmith Bridge
lit up in all its dilapidated glory. It is also addictive. I’ve trained
my body to expect endorphins and when I don’t provide that it
complains. There are times when I have so much energy in my
legs I don’t know what to do with myself and times when I’m in
such a bad mood that I’ve been kicked out of the house to run
until the endorphins kick-in. There have been times I haven’t
listened to my body and have got injured, but I like to hope that
I am more intuitive now.

Right now I run for ‘me time’. To disconnect from work, to
get away from the people I spend so much time with and
have space to myself. I don’t run with music or my phone,
my head is empty, focused only on running and not dying, of
staying consistent in reps. Things that seemed overwhelming or
frustrating in my day, suddenly seem trivial. I feel alive and fully
me, empowered.

Have I answered the age old question of why I run? I’m not
sure. But the urge to run is always in me and has always been.
It’s fun and it’s painful, it’s joyful and it’s hard work, and I can’t
imagine living my life without running. It’s who I am, and who I
want to be, and I run to be me.

5

PEOPLE

My worst race,
my best race

Simon Coombes is Herne Hill’s world class super-vet. He races relentlessly but pauses
for a moment to recall one bad time and one good…

My worst race was the Southern cross country My best race was more recent. One advantage of
championships at Hillingdon in 2009. I had getting older in the running sphere is becoming a ‘vet’
just come back from an ankle injury that had or a ‘master’ as we are now called. I noticed that the
kept me out for about six weeks. Being a runner who European masters were being held in Aarhus, Denmark
is usually very lucky when it comes to injuries, I was in 2017, so my wife, my son Oliver and I embarked on
looking forward to getting back into the swing of it, a little road trip via Germany. I planned to enter the
although I had lost quite a bit of aerobic fitness during V45 1500m as the main event and thought, as it’s a
the time off. cold country like the UK, I might as well do the 5000m
too. The heat for the 1500m was planned for Saturday
From what I remember it hadn’t been particularly afternoon, the final on the Sunday afternoon. The
wet, but when we arrived we realised that the landlord Saturday didn’t start brilliantly as I had a migraine when
had prepared a quagmire for everyone. Obviously the we went to the Aarhus Parkrun, but I managed to get
mudlarks were looking forward to it, but being more of a through the heat okay at the smaller ‘Viby’ athletics track.
road and track man I was a bit more apprehensive. So
in the usual fashion I started off pretty slowly. I normally So on the Sunday we all assembled at the larger,
do this but, being aware of the injury and the time off, I main Aarhus football stadium for the final. I was second
thought I’d start off even slower than usual. The course quickest to qualify so lined up on the inside of the
as expected was a real slog, I was slipping around all track. I thought I’d go out hard to make it honest, and
over the place and slowly losing a few places. There we went through the bell with me in front on about 66
was one particular section, slightly downhill close to the seconds. I found myself still leading as we went through
A40 where I found myself sliding around quite a lot, 800m in around 2.13, but it was no surprise when the
although my ankle seemed to be holding up okay. fastest qualifier, Frederick, came past on 1000m, with
a Spaniard I didn’t know on his tail. As we went through
Onto the last lap my aerobic fitness was being tested, the bell at about 3m 05s, I was in 3rd and didn’t fancy
and within the last one kilometre I can only describe giving up the medal. The first two were some distance
the experience that people in the running world call ahead, so I put in a burst up the back straight and
‘bonking’. I felt a little bit lightheaded but not dizzy, and managed to put a few seconds between myself and
realised that I was at the end of my energy resources. fourth. I knew I had a chance of a medal, so went over
Anyway, I struggled around to finish around 360th, the line with a great feeling of relief in 4m 11s and the
when I should have been around 100-150th. So, a bronze medal. It was a great experience of international
pretty rubbish experience all round. Then to really veteran racing, and a great trip. But it wasn’t over at the
cement this race as my most hated, all the sliding 1500m finish line, as the whole trip was rounded off with
around had tweaked my knee, which kept me out for a bronze medal in the 5000m as well later that week.
another six weeks!

6

PEOPLE

“So went over the line with a great
feeling of relief in 4m 11s and
the bronze medal.”

7

PEOPLE

A lean,
green running

machine?

Over a sausageless summer, Jack Dickenson is motivated by a combination of health
and planetary concern (and a tight student budget) to take the plunge, ditch the meat

and give vegetarianism a go. But what did it do to his running?

Somewhere in Croatia, around the middle of May, bests ensued: boom. However, these must be taken
I ate my last chorizo. Having spent a week eating with not just a pinch but a hefty spoonful of salt; what
as much bread, cheese and meat as humanly if I’d have run faster on a carnivorous diet? In terms of
possible, I took the plunge and converted to the green dietary changes I carried on much the same: lots of
side. The combined effects of hearing how the world beans, eggs, lentils, green veg. I worked on the basis
is becoming the planetary equivalent of a hot car on a that so long as you are getting sufficient components of a
summer’s day, along with the triple whammy of health, balanced diet, the source matters not one bit.
ethical considerations and student-budget-friendliness
benefits made me think I should probably give not Of course, by cutting out meat you lose certain
eating meat a go. minerals, two main ones being iron and vitamin B12.
But getting sufficient amounts is relatively easy; for
Thankfully for the readers, I timed this perfectly with iron, see leafy green vegetables, whole grains and nuts,
the start of the track season, providing an ideal clinical whilst Aldi’s finest Bran Flakes give plenty of B12. Not
trial to answer the burning questions: does not eating forgetting the inevitable ‘where do you get your protein?’
meat affect your running? Can I do BBQs without meat? query, which was probably one of the things I was most
What *exactly* is tofu? unsure of. Let’s look at the numbers.

The first hurdle was passed with flying colours; after The American College of Sports Medicine
a night out, I managed to resist the greasy allure of fried recommends that athletes consume 1.2-2.0 grams
chicken and opted instead for falafel. So far, so good. As of protein per kg per day. For a 63kg man (me) this
we got further into the summer, I persevered with the translates to between 75.6 and 126 grams per day.
steak shunning, declining a hog roast with ease. In three If you have a diet with varied sources of non-animal
races at the end of June / start of July, three personal protein then this is easily achievable; for example,

8

PEOPLE

“A third of people in
the UK either don’t eat
meat or have reduced

their intake”

a gourmet meal of a can of baked beans and two there is a freshly converted veggie. Indeed amongst
eggs would give roughly 36 grams. Chuck in some the Herne Hill ranks, it does appear that there are
chickpeas, lentils and peas along with some Quorn more people who are choosing a vegetarian or vegan
/ ’fake meat’ and you’re laughing. An important diet, though I don’t know whether this reflects a
consideration is that carbohydrate intake is sufficient; wider societal pattern or rather the *generally* higher
otherwise, protein is used as an energy source rather socioeconomic and educational background of runners.
than to rebuild muscle in recovery. Still, a survey last year found that a third of people in
the UK either don’t eat meat or have reduced their
What I will say about this summer is that I think any intake, with a quarter of evening meals containing no
improvement or not is hardly down to my change in meat whatsoever.
diet, more my training or lack of. I do wonder though
what some before and after blood tests might show. Given the current climate emergency, changing
Still, I feel fine and haven’t yet had any horrendous diet can feel like trying to hold back the incoming
races that I can blame the lack of beef on rather than tide with a mop. However, individual change leads to
my relaxed approach to summer mileage. I’m perhaps societal change, and even by making relatively small
more hungry in between meals, but again I would be adjustments to one’s lifestyle can drastically reduce
hungry anyway when I run more miles. the environmental impact, for example diet, flying less,
taking public transport more. I think it’s also interesting
Anecdotally, it seems as though vegetarianism that it makes us feel that we’re doing something –
and veganism are on the rise. Amidst increasing increasing our sense of agency I suppose. I say all this
awareness of the ecological impact of beefburgers, and but watch how rapidly I get back on the chicken once I
with vegetarian options freely available in shops and get slower…
restaurants, it feels like for every hardcore carnivore

9

PEOPLE

Fuelling for
Athletes

Herne Hill Harrier’s new club president, Keith Newton, brought work and play together
when he organised the inaugural sport’s lecture at King’s College Connecting Science
and Performance on the theme of nutrition for endurance activity. The hall soon filled
with athletes hungry for knowledge and, with all the talk of food, something more…

10

PEOPLE

King’s College London joined forces with Herne ensuring the next generation of athletes, coaches and
Hill Harriers (HHH) to organise a hugely parents all have a good nutritional understanding on
successful lecture, Q & A and networking event how to maintain a sufficient energy availability for their
on 13th November 2019 which was attended by 300 training.
athletes, coaches and parents. King’s and HHH were
both celebrating anniversaries, 190 and 130 years The Q and A session saw further discussion, with Dr
respectively, and the joint event gave prominence to Keay bringing insightful clinical perspectives, whilst Bill
subject matter that has become extremely topical in Foster shared with the audience practical issues he had
recent weeks with the ‘breaking’ of the 2 hour marathon addressed as a long-standing and successful coach.
threshold and the ‘Mary Cain story’ (the United States’
athlete who alleged mistreatment when part of the Nike Keith Newton, Faculty Operating Officer at Life
Oregon programme, which included allegations that she Sciences and Medicine, King’s, as well as HHH’s
was made to feel self-conscious about her weight and president and coaching assistant, reflected that ‘the
body shape). success of the event vastly exceeded my expectations,
and it will hopefully be the first of many. Our speakers
Dr Oliver Witard, Senior Lecturer in Exercise and panel members were brilliant, and the audience
Metabolism and Nutrition at King’s, and Dr Jessica were superb. It is critical that we can discuss issues
Piasecki, Lecturer in Exercise Physiology at Nottingham such as the importance of the menstrual cycle to bone
Trent University and international athlete, each lectured health in open fora such as these, ensuring these
and were joined by Dr Nicky Keay, a Sports and subjects are no longer considered taboo. It suggests to
Dance Endocrinologist, and Bill Foster, middle and me there is a real demand for events of this type, which
long distance coach to the Loughborough University can be a key component of our duty of care to our
women’s squad and former international athlete for the athletes and the education of coaches.’
Q and A session.
For those seeking further professional guidance, you
Witard, who co-authored the IAAF’s ‘Consensus can contact Jess via [email protected]
Statement 2019: Nutrition for Athletics’, gave a
scientifically underpinned insight to the key components
of optimal fuelling for endurance events, pre and
during competition. He addressed the potential
benefits of mixing glucose-fructose sugars to increase
gut absorption of carbohydrate, and, capitalising on
contemporary research, the benefits of ‘training the
gut’.

Piasecki provided an academic insight to Relative
Energy Deficiency-Sport (RED-S), drawing heavily
on her own experiences as an athlete, and scientific
research. Her lecture began with some nutritional
guidance, but focused especially on the definition,
symptoms and the potential implications of RED-S.
For women, the centrality of a regular menstrual cycle
to bone health was emphasised, together with the
suppressant impact of oral contraceptives on oestrogen
levels. Her own history of stress fractures since 2008,
including spinal damage, was a harrowing reminder of
the consequences of under fuelling. Furthermore, it was
emphasised that the potential damaging consequences
of under-fuelling can and should be avoided by

11

LEARNING

Better by
de-schooling

Once he sought improvement in himself and the athletes he trained by scientifically
focussing on the details, but the more he’s learned former HHH coach turned sporting
academic, Mark White, has found the need to de-school his approach and look at the

bigger picture. Now, it is paying off…

Ipride myself on attention to notion sounds sensible enough – if to be inefficient in others. In short
detail – you might say that is what we watch elite runners on television there was much individuality and
I’m known for. Understanding they usually run with generally good no common template for good
something means looking into the technique. Eliud Kipchoge is a running technique. Trying to change
details to explain how it works. beautiful runner to watch who must one thing that appears detrimental
That’s what attracts me to science. have a very efficient technique if might result in other undesirable
I see it as the best way to get to he is able to run staggeringly fast changes in other elements of the
the truth about something. It was times over the marathon. But there technique.
that same pursuit that drew me are notable exceptions. Priscah
into understanding how I could Jeptoo has an awkward running Research continued in this area
run faster, looking at training style with knees collapsing inward with little further insight. A recent
techniques, physiology and with significant internal rotation, yet study involving my supervisor at
biomechanics. Peel away the layers, she was a world and Olympic silver Loughborough, the largest of its
understand how our bodies work medallist and is third fastest over kind involving 97 runners, did
and therefore learn how to improve the half marathon distance. find aspects of running technique
them and raise performance. That’s that were related to running
the right approach, isn’t it? When scientists have tried to economy. Folland and his team
breakdown technique into its recommended coaches attempt
Perhaps, but the flip side is individual elements in order to to minimise vertical oscillation
that you miss the big picture. identify what characteristics are and transverse rotation, as well as
If you break things down into efficient and associated with minimising ground contact time.
their individual elements, when performance they have been unable The large study made it possible to
combined those elements do not to reach any definitive conclusions. detect very small contributions from
form the whole. There’s something In one of the best studies, Williams individual elements of technique,
in the organisation and coordination and Cavanagh in 1987 reported that yet in aggregate running technique
of movement that can so easily be there was no one variable that could only explained 39% of the variation
missed in what is sometimes called distinguish between good and elite in running economy – other
a ‘deterministic’ approach. runners. They described several factors (e.g. physiology) were more
instances of runners bucking the important.
For many years, scientists have trend, such as the fastest runners
tried to understand whether running doing something that appeared In the above studies, the implicit
technique really matters or not. The notion is that runners can be

12

LEARNING

coached to improve certain aspects “A few exercises to support
of technique, but some of these your running may be all you
biomechanical measures are quite
arcane and it is far from clear how need to keep your body
such aspects could be coached. In working in harmony.”
any case, trying to get someone to
consciously change their technique The studies into running technique one leg and swinging the other leg
may be flawed. broke down the movement into attached to the cord in different
aspects that could be measured directions. This seems to be making
Scientists who have studied motor – joint angles, limb orientations, me faster and it has completely
control have established there is a timings and so on – but that is not cured by bad knee. And I don’t
decentralised organisation to our how movement is organised. Those find I’m stiff at the end of a run
movements. We consciously think variables represent the outcome, anymore.
to run and then the brain issues but only a certain measure of it.
the ‘run’ instruction which invokes There is a lesson there:
learned and locally organised This idea has encouraged me to sometimes the simpler approach
muscle firing patterns. There are adopt a simpler approach to my is the best one. A few exercises to
central pattern generators in the own training. My aim is to keep the support your running may be all you
spinal column, the muscles work ‘machinery’ in good working order need to keep your body working in
synergistically with various neural so my own individual technique harmony.
feedback loops allowing flexibility to remains robust and I avoid injury. I
adapt the movement to changing don’t think about individual muscles
external conditions and varying being weak or strong – I think
levels of fatigue. These self- about the whole system. This is in
organising principles, by definition, contrast to the typical advice you
take into account relative strengths hear. A physio might recommend
and weaknesses, individual strengthening a certain muscle,
anthropomorphic differences such such as the ‘glutes’, as if that one
as different limb lengths and body weak muscle was the cause of the
types. problems without thinking about
the system as a whole. When I
This idea that movement is self- coached, I made a big thing of that,
organising is a remarkable one and but no more.
suggests a different approach to
training. The deterministic approach I don’t seek to stretch before or
of breaking things down into their after a session as I take the view
constituent elements doesn’t fit that the body has adopted certain
well with how human movement muscle lengths for a reason and
is organised and controlled. To that stretching out before running
try to over-rule this self-organising fast upsets that self-organisation.
process by deliberately altering Very often in the past, I would find
a specific aspect of movement my body tightening up as I ran,
would not allow the system to work as if it wanted to re-establish its
optimally. Yes, persisting with this preferred muscle lengths. Instead,
may lead the system to adapt, but I aim to strengthen all around my
it is not necessarily so that this new hips using anchored elastic cords
system would be optimal or better. to provide resistance, standing on

13

PEOPLE

Woman (and man)
HorseVersus

Nothing spices up your running or develops trail racing technique like the
prospect of being trampled by a pursuing herd of horses finds Lara Langston.

Welcome to the kind of race when you really can get beasted…

Iheard about this race a few years back. Run by hill training and long trail runs; the night before the
a company who host the highly regarded Bog event the fog was so thick we managed to get lost on
Snorkelling World Championships, Bog Triathlon and the Black Mountain on the way to our accommodation;
Mountain Bike Chariot World Championships, the race and to complete the set, we slept badly and it absolutely
consists of a few hundred runners pitching themselves poured all night.
against 60 horses across the hilly terrain of Wales.
Described as tough and challenging, getting an entry On the morning, my parents came to support
was almost as hard as trying to get a London marathon everyone. ‘Are you mad?!’ my mum exclaimed as horses
place (well… sort of). were unloaded around us and hundreds of runners were
piling into the briefing tent. ‘No’ I contested defensively,
But in 2019, our luck was in…. but I secretly agreed with her, on this one at least.
Held in Llanwrtyd Wells near the Brecon Beacons,
Man Vs Horse has been going since 1980 when it With our four-legged friends (now enemies) skittering
resulted from a pub bet, and it has since become about town, riders tried to settle them, and we hunkered
an annual event. This was its fortieth year. Humans down to listen to the all-important safety briefing, hoping
have won twice, once in 2004 where Huw Lobb won for tips on sharing the paths with the horses.
£25,000 (the prize money rolls over if a horse wins) and
once in 2007. The race is 22 miles long in total, and you ‘Welcome to the 40th edition of Man vs. Horse. If
can compete as an individual or as relay teams where you’re the second relay leg, the bus is at 10.30. If you’re
the course is split into roughly equal thirds. the third, you can watch the start but be on the bus at
Three runners make a team; with Richard, my partner, 11.30. And that’s it. Have fun’. Guess we were on our
and I already committed, I immediately knew who would own on this then.
be keen to complete our Herne Hill Harriers 2019 relay
team – Evie McDermott. Anyone who runs fell races I chose the first leg after seeing the course profile. As
dressed as a Christmas tree was surely going to be I’m a pretty shocking downhill runner, it started as all
game to race some horses. And I was right. After a races should in my opinion*, with a long uphill climb and
rather stressful scrabble for places, Richard, Evie and I then down through some knee deep, boggy woodland
got our Herne Hill Harrier’s relay spot. trails, before retreating back up the hills again.
Our race preparation wasn’t the best. We hadn’t
managed to fit in all (read: any) of our grand plans for The runners started 15 minutes before the horses for
safety reasons, so I pushed with my aim being to get
as far as possible before the first horse caught me. The
race strung out around the side of the mountain, up
a wide forestry service path. And that’s when I heard

14

PEOPLE

it. ‘HORSE!’ I’d made it 7.6km before the first horse The first lady finished in an impressive 3hr05m01s,
thundered past me, absolutely (indeed, literally) beasting and a fair few horses were racing towards the finish
it. Impressive, but also terrifying. line. And then Evie appeared! Hurtling down the final
muddy descent towards the finish, red and black
Then a second and a third cantered neatly past. ‘Well bobbing through the trees. Although we were in a
done Riders’, I panted. ‘No, well done YOU!’ they replied relay, Evie was the second lady over the line that day,
politely off the back of their high horses, all collected absolutely smashing a sprint finish to bring us home
and composed as I gasped for air like a baby dragon. in 3hr06m44s. I was so proud (I may or may not have
Reaching the top of the service path, the course veered welled up a little bit…).
off into a narrow track through the trees. Seeing the long
descent and narrowness ahead, I hurled myself down In the end, we beat 40 horses, came 2nd in the mixed
the puddle-ridden muddy path, getting slapped in the relays. More importantly, Herne Hill Harriers got on the
face by the occasional tree as I didn’t really want to get podium.
overtaken here.
This was a truly awesome race, with the added
‘HORSES!’ The news that eight of them in a row were excitement of having to throw yourself into a bush or a
on our tails spread from runner to runner as I braced ditch once in a while to avoid a horse, stunning views,
myself, instinctively breathing in to let them all go lots of mud and rivers, Welsh hospitality, villagers who
past. By the time I got to the end of the descent, I had churned out ham and cheese sandwiches in a tent like a
become accustomed to periodically throwing myself into well-oiled conveyor belt, low-key, no faff racing and free
a bush to avoid a horse. I learnt a lot about descending peanut butter. Riders were very considerate and careful
– it only took the pressure of being chased by a string of around runners, and the atmosphere on the course
four legged equines to learn. Steve Knight, our coach, was so friendly. When we said ‘same again next year?’
will be pleased. to each other afterwards, it wasn’t really a question. We
have already reserved the 13th June 2020 to return to
Nonetheless, it was all pretty exciting. My leg ended Llanwrtyd Wells and take on the horses again.
at ‘transition’ (a chaotic melee of some serious and *Definitely joking about that.
some fun runners) where I handed over the relay
band to Richard with these loving, supportive and
carefully thought-out parting words of wisdom,‘don’t get
trampled’. Richard began his undulating and slightly
longer second leg, and with that, mine was over and I
got the bus back to the start.

We didn’t have long to wait before the quickest runner
came through the finish line in a blistering 2.23.48.
However, a horse beat him by 5 minutes and, having
passed all en route and post-race veterinary checks,
he was declared the winner of Man Vs Horse 2019.
The cooler weather favoured the horse this year as the
runner’s time would have won for the past two years.

The other runners began to filter through. Richard
arrived back at the finish having handed over to Evie
and we settled down to wait. None of us had really done
much training and we weren’t expecting too much, so we
thought it could be a little longer for our team to finish.

15

HISTORY

The ‘Other’
Tooting track

At the height of the forgotten days of ‘pedestrianism’ Tooting had another running track,
and it welcomed the greatest sporting celebrity in athletics at the time.
Andrew Simms reports…

‘Pedestrian’. It sounds like the definition as covered in a previous edition of Red & Black,
of dull, suggesting something slow and there was a precursor to the Olympics in pre-
uninspired. But in the 19th century Civil War England, well before even the Wenlock
pedestrianism was the name given to the games that inspired Pierre de Coubertin. But for
pounding heart of athletics, the sport of running something which so gripped public imagination
and extreme distance walking. It’s a lost world the forgetting of pedestrianism is a strange lapse,
that gloried in a following a bit like boxing, with because in Victorian England ‘a day at the races’
amateur and professional circuits where the could as easily have meant going to see people
betting was big, and crowds that could number rather than horses run.
in the tens of thousands, and that back when the
population was much smaller. It long predated The first striking difference is that running,
the pieties of the modern Olympic movement pedestrianism, was very largely a professional
whose ostentatious embrace of amateurism was sport in early Victorian times. One thing, arguably,
a deliberate design to keep ‘respectable’ sport which hasn’t changed greatly, at least at club
largely male and aristocratic. level, is the relationship between running and
public houses. But in the mid 1800s, it wasn’t
That lost world was very much alive in South just a case of tumbling to the pub after the race,
London, and one of its once celebrated, but now races were actually run by the landlords of public
also lost tracks was in Tooting. Here is a short houses who acted as stakeholders and referees,
glimpse into that world and a visit to the other with some gaining national recognition for doing
Tooting track, the evocatively named Copenhagen so. The Spotted Dog on the Strand in central
Running Grounds behind Althorp Lodge on London was such a pub. These were notable
Garratt Lane, where forgotten generations of events whose results were taken seriously and
runners broke records, rumbled with rivals and a written up in the popular sporting press. The
few found celebrity. sport operated year-round with crowds numbering
in the thousands even in bad weather. Like
Sometimes it feels as if there is a millennia professional boxers today, successful runners at
shaped hole in the history of athletics that goes the peak of their form would earn a nickname,
straight from the games of ancient Greece to the like ‘The Norwich Milkboy’, writes Peter Lovesey
first, stumbling steps of the modern Olympics with in his history of five male distance runners,
nothing in between. But we know this is not true,

16

HISTORY

“ The sport
operated
year-round
with crowds
numbering in
the thousands
even in bad
weather.”

17

HISTORY

The Kings of the Track. Also like professional run his first race, a six mile challenge, against a
boxers, in place of medals they often ran for bright new hope, Edward Mills, known as ‘Young
championship belts. England.’ It was held at the Metropolitan Ground
in Hackney Wick, run by the landlord of the White
Sometimes races were held on tracks of Lion. High society turned out in their thousands to
irregular length and shape marked out on open see Deerfoot, whose presence was marketed as
grass fields. But there were enclosed tracks too an exotic curiosity. Wearing a hat was compulsory
that attracted big crowds – this generated the and you could pay more to spectate from the
gate money from entrance that funded the prize inside of the 260 yard track. With a flamboyance
purses. familiar in boxing, race preparations saw Deerfoot
emerge in the traditional costume of a Seneca
One of these tracks just a short jog from the brave from the Eagle tribe. Out of shape after
contemporary Tooting track which is home to a long sea crossing, and running in moccasins
Herne Hill Harriers. Its building was classic on soft ground (with bells on a short skirt and
speculation. At the North London track from wearing a headdress) Deerfoot nevertheless lost
which the Tooting venue took its name, a 10 mile only by 12 seconds in 32 minutes 32 secs. He
race in 1852 organised by John Garratt attracted went on to race weekly over distances from one to
an audience estimated at 25,000 people. 12 miles.

The financial incentive was obvious. And even A fortnight later he faced Mills again over
though the ‘other’ Tooting track lasted for only ten miles with some of the best runners in the
just over a decade, between 1853 and 1864, country. This time Deerfoot prevailed, winning in
it coincided with the glory days of domestic 54 mins 21 secs. Long before runners from Africa
pedestrianism and hosted one of its biggest stars, used variable pace in distance races to unsettle
who wasn’t even British. a competition schooled in even-paced running,
Deerfoot had done exactly that to burn off his
When the North London Copenhagen grounds opposition. Deerfoot lost only once more that
were closed to make way for a livestock market, year when he retired in a race over his shortest
Robert Sadler, a South London boxer and distance of one mile. He rested for a month,
pedestrian with an entrepreneurial side, set up staying in Tooting with the man who brought
what was at first called the New Surrey Pedestrian him to Britain, George Martin, and was seen out
Grounds. Not only the name but the length and running in Wimbledon Park, a familiar outing to
shape of the track changed over the course of its any Herne Hill Harrier on a Sunday long run.
life, and the grounds were redeveloped several
times. In 1858 they changed the track from an Deerfoot’s appearance at the ‘other’ Tooting
irregular one third mile distance shaped a bit like track seems to have been part of a promotional
a rhombus with rounded corners, to what would ploy by Martin to maintain interest in his runner’s
become the classic quarter mile (440 yards) oval, exploits. Having beaten everyone and toured
becoming possibly the first of its kind in London. all the major cities, Martin used his runner’s
celebrity to go on tour in more provincial locations
In 1862 the track, now run by John Garratt with a mobile stadium made of wood and canvas.
and renamed The Copenhagen Grounds after his A handful of races were organised for early 1862
former enterprise, was renovated again to take up to help ‘announce’ the availability of the touring
to 35,000 spectators. To celebrate they attracted stadium, and the first of these was at Garratt Lane
the greatest celebrity pedestrian of the time, a on 17th February. For a £50 cash prize (about
Native American known as Deerfoot - his real £6000 today) Deefoot was to race Job Smith of
name was Hagasadoni and he had an imposed, Manchester over 6 miles. Deerfoot jogged home
official name of Luke Bennet, although referred to the winner after Smith dropped out at four and
himself differently again as ‘Louis’ - who had been
touring Britain, sensationally beating all comers.

He’d arrived in England the previous year and

18

HISTORY

a half miles unable to take the pace. For months “The first striking
Martin staged races almost daily. Again similar to difference is
boxing cards, there would be several preliminary that running,
races culminating in Deerfoot running a four mile
race, which he always won. pedestrianism,
was very largely
But the public were tiring of this age of
pedestrianism and Deerfoot was tiring of Britain. a professional
His last great race was run in April 1863, a 12 sport in early
mile challenge at Brompton. He went through Victorian times.”
three miles in 14 mins 55 secs, six in 30 mins
25 secs, ten miles in 51 mins 26 secs and at runner of his day, Walter Rye, observed, ‘We shall
the hour he had run 11 miles and 970 yards – soon have never a training place left…how the
completing the full 12 miles in 1hr 2 mins 2.5 deuce can a Londoner hope to get fit?’
secs. His distance at the hour was not beaten
by an amateur in England for another 90 years, The sport itself, however, would reinvent itself
until the great South London distance runner Jim and endure, and money would pour back into it,
Peters (who set marathon world records) ran a at least at the elite level. Allowing for differences
mere 16 yards further. Deerfoot was 37 years of equipment, surface, training or the lack of it,
old at the time. He didn’t win another race and and how runners rise to each other’s challenge,
after one poor performance was challenged over the times are not so different however. And, as
whether he had trained for the race. He replied in there was at the height of the forgotten days of
one of his few reported comments, “I have never pedestrianism, we can reassure the ghost of
trained”. Walter Rye that there is still a home for running in
Tooting and somewhere for Londoner’s still to get
Not only were pedestrianism’s days numbered fit.
when Deerfoot left Britain, crowds were starting to
decline, but so was the other Tooting track which (For further reading see, Kings of Distance
closed the following year. The great shame is that (1968), Peter Lovesey; and Robert Sadler and the
it closed when it seems it was at its best as an Lost Copenhagen Running Grounds, Garratt Lane,
attraction. In 1864 the Illustrated London News Wandsworth (2013), Kevin Kelly)
wrote that, ‘The Garratt Lane grounds can with
justice now be pronounced as second to none 19
in the kingdom…’ But what were they actually
like? The report goes on to say that, ‘Apart from
the interest of the events decided, these grounds
alone are worth a visit: with its fountain, the finest
artesian well near London, fish pond and the
fine piece of water…’ The latter is a reference to
a 98 yard swimming lake built for competition.
The grounds also offered flower gardens and a
range of bird shooting opportunities, a popular
past time then. So why did it close at its peak?
It appears to have fallen foul to a time honoured
misfortune, the neighbours complained. As noted,
events were rowdy and drunken and it seems
the neighbours had had enough and decided to
kill the joy. A few years later another successful

HISTORY

South London’s
lost Olympic
champion

Today if you won two Olympic gold medals and a silver medal on the track you’d
become an overnight international superstar, writes Andrew Simms,
but it wasn’t like that for Tooting’s Albert Hill…

Kelly Holmes surprised herself as much as the UK Championship four mile race at Stamford Bridge
watching world when she won the 800m and – for decades a famous running ground long before
1500m gold medals in 2004 at the Athens Chelsea Football Club came along – and worked for
Olympic Games. It was late in her interrupted career the London Brighton & South Coast railway as a ticket
and there were doubts over whether she would even collector at London Bridge station.
make it there. Her victories made her a national
treasure and she has remained in the public eye ever In 1912 he joined the Polytechnic Harriers Sports
since. But does the name Albert Hill mean much to Club, where the legendary coach Sam Mussabini,
you? If you live in South London and are interested in immortalised in the film of ‘Chariots of Fire’, started
athletics it should do. His life and achievements are guiding his running. Then came the war and Hill
a mostly forgotten, distant echo of Kelly Holmes, and signed up in 1915, surviving apart from the new
he lived in Tooting. Holmes’ running was paused for smoking habit. But, soon after the war, in August
her military career, and Hill fought in the First World 1919, he matched the British mile record at the time
War. And, late in his own running career, Hill stepped of 4 mins 16 secs. The Olympics were approaching,
onto the track at the 1920 Olympic Games and beat but Hill was not only considered old for a runner, he
the odds, not to mention the 60-80 cigarettes a day was also working class in a sport which embedded
smoking habit he picked up during the war, to take the class system, and so unfavoured. Simmons writes
home the gold medals in the 800m and 1500m. that Hill, at 31 (Holmes was 34), ‘had to battle the
Now, finally, Hill is being recognised in his former blazers of the Amateur Athletic Association to gain a
neighbourhood where a blue plaque will be put on the place.’ He was sea sick crossing the Channel and his
house in Trevelyan Road where he lived. transport to the Games was the back of a lorry. His
race diet was apparently ‘Stella Artois and cashew
Geoff Simmons of the Summerstown 182 local nuts.’ But, running seven races in eight days he
history project in Tooting describes Hill’s upbringing. brought home the two gold medals and silver in the
He was one of eight children, a railway worker, born in 3,000 metres team event. Hill wasn’t finished and he
the area that is now dominated by the Royal Festival went on to set a new British mile record in 1921 of 4
Hall on the South Bank, then poor and surrounded by mins 13 secs.
timber yards and wharves. At 15 he joined the former
Gainsford Athletic Club, thought to be based near If you would like to go to the unveiling ceremony for
Drury Lane. In 1910, aged just over 20, he won the Albert Hill in Tooting, follow Geoff Simmons on twitter
for details @summerstown182.

20

HISTORY

Albert Hill with his coach for the
Olympics, the legendary Sam
Mussabini, whose character appears in
the film Chariots of Fire as the coach
of the sprinter Harold Abrahams.
With Hill soon to be honoured by a
plaque, English Heritage installed a
blue plaque honouring Mussabini in
2012 at 84 Burbage Road, Herne Hill.
Further marking his achievements, the
Mussabini Medal is still awarded each
year to top sports coaches.

21

NUMBERS

The
numbers

game

If you run, it’s almost impossible not to become obsessed with your times. Certain clear
barriers around the minute, hour or half can even obsess us. James Ward speaks to
several Herne Hill runners about their experiences with the margins of time. He finds
that they can matter absolutely, and not at all…

Saturday 12 October 2019. On a cool autumn Close, but not close enough.
morning tailor-made for distance running the For mere mortals like us, the dream of sub-2 hour
Ethiopian, Eluid Kipchoge, etched his name
into running folklore forever by accomplishing what marathon or anything anywhere near close to it is as
no human had done before. Sixty-five years after the distant as the moon, but deep down I suspect we are
medical student, Roger Bannister, ran a miracle mile in no different to Kipchoge, always seeking out those
under four minutes - a landmark until then considered marginal improvements looking to progress to levels we
to be beyond the limits of human endeavour - never thought possible. It is this desire to go beyond
Kipchoge completed the iconic marathon distance of boundaries that connects us all, from the elite of the
26 miles 385 yards in one hour, 59 minutes and 40 elite to the entry level athlete.
seconds. Admittedly, this was not an official world
record as he was flanked throughout by a who’s who of Some boundaries carry with them a delicious and
the world’s finest distance runners to shield him from perfect symmetry, something that distinguishes them
the wind, advanced shoes proven to give a material whatever the level of performance and talent required.
advantage, and a translucent green Iine faithfully The most iconic is undoubtedly the four minute mile
measuring the required pace for him, but 50 years on - 4 laps of the track in 4 minutes, but others resonate
from the first lunar landing, Kipchoge’s 22,000 steps too: sub-2 minutes for 800m - 2 laps 2 minutes;
produced another giant leap for mankind. running 10 miles in under an hour - your average
speed in mph is in double figures if you can do it. But
Isn’t it astonishing how a matter of seconds whatever the target, a matter of seconds can make all
sometimes contrive to separate success from failure the difference. Herne Hill Harrier Gavern Newsum sets
with such fine, and at times brutal, precision. Over a out why rather well, “If you have dipped under a round
two hour period, a handful of seconds will certainly not number you can faithfully recount your rounded down
register in our consciousness, but this was an occasion time rather than include the odd number of seconds.”
where every second really counted. Kipchoge knew
that. In May 2017 at the Monza racing circuit he had Whatever the target, sometimes a couple of seconds
fallen agonisingly short of his goal by just 26 seconds. can make all the difference - just ask Richard
Henderson and Nick Bester. In the 2019 London
Marathon Richard ducked under the 2:30 barrier by

22

NUMBERS

a solitary second to lower his time to 2:29:59 and join close to how emotional it actually was, is the feeling
the sub 2:30 class. Despite finishing three seconds you get when you finish the Comrades Marathon.”
before Richard in real time, Nick’s chip time for the
distance was two seconds slower as he missed out on Not all near misses have happy endings, though.
the milestone mark by a single second. Sometimes, a matter of seconds or even tenths or
hundredths of a second can be as close as you get to
“Everything about the day was just about perfect - a running landmark. As standards go, there is nothing
apart from the two seconds that I just couldn’t find.” remarkable about a five-minute mile yet barring the
Initially crestfallen, Nick vowed there and then not to remarkable rediscovery of lost speed in my veteran
let this detract from what he had achieved. “I went and years it is a benchmark that will forever gnaw away
sat under a tree and felt the realization of missing my inside me.
goal by two seconds. I quickly built a bridge, got over
it, and celebrated the five-minute PB. I celebrated with Saturday 20 June 2009. I had just finished a mile
my buddies as if I had won the marathon.” race at an open meeting at Tooting Bec track. Nigel
Stone, emollient as always and chief timekeeper,
“If at first you don’t succeed try, try and try again.” It wandered over, stopwatch in hand.
is said that Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland, uttered
this to his troops shortly before walloping the English “James,” he said “I have to tell you that your time is
at Bannockburn in 1314. And that is exactly what Nick 5m 00s point 21.”
did. Leaving walloping the English to his nation’s rugby
team in the World Cup final, Nick arrived in Berlin in The margins of time were laid bare. To any casual
the autumn with unfinished business, determined to observer, I ran a mile in 5 minutes. Except, I didn’t. In
find those two missing seconds. He picks up the story a sport where time means everything I was a fraction of
as he approached the finish line: a second too slow.

“With about 400 meters to go you run under an arch. Make no mistake, reaching new running heights,
I could see the finishing mat from there and that was especially when a barrier is involved can bring out
the point that I ran my absolute heart out. The crowd emotion. Eriç Dol made a habit of snipping a few
were going mental as they could see the clock and see seconds from his track PBs over the summer of 2019,
me chasing 2.30. With 200 meters to go, it became perhaps deep down targeting an annual PB of PBs
clear in my mind, today is the day! It is my moment, in the calendar year, but even he admits to punching
this is what I’ve been training for since London. This in the air in delight after running the 400m in under
is what made me do those extra few reps at my track 60 seconds for the first time. For Gavern Newsum,
sessions, this is where that one cookie I didn’t have is 2:54:30 in the London Marathon represented
going to count.” fulfillment at the end of three year journey to break
the three hour barrier. “For me, the idea of having a
Ironically, after sprinting as fast as he possibly could, marathon time that started with a 2 was a real sign of
the time displayed by the race clock as Nick crossed quality and something which was unlikely to have been
the line was 2.30.01 - identical to his time in London gained easily. If I never complete another marathon
- but this time Nick knew he had taken 10 seconds again I am at peace with it. It makes no real odds
to cross the mat at the starting line. Understandably if I were to run 2:53 or 2:55 next time…..perhaps
fearful he had missed out again, his concerns were maintaining sub 3 becomes the challenge.”
short-lived as he checked the official results on his
phone. Gavern is surely right: as soon as one challenge is
accomplished, our minds start searching out a fresh
“I had done it! I ran a 1 minute 11 second negative one.
split to finish in a time of 2.29.50. After working
toward breaking 2.30 for the past 3 years and after But, deep down, do the margins of time really
what happened to me at the London Marathon, I matter? Steph Mitchell put this into sharp focus when
was overcome with emotion and couldn’t contain my remembering her 800m PB of 2.11 from her younger
excitement. The only feeling I can compare that comes days. Was she disappointed at coming so close to
breaking 2:10? Far from it. “I didn’t give a s***,” she
exclaims, “I won the race!”

23

NUMBERS

Gary Ironmonger has a similar viewpoint. In 2015, whatever we may have aspired to, a PB still represents
his best efforts were 58:05 for 400m. 2:10.80 for a pinnacle, a time that is faster than we have ever run
800m and 4:30.30 for 1500m. Fine margins, indeed, before even if, in the moment, we feel we should have
but he doesn’t dwell on them. He was pleased just to done better. It is something to savour. And in case we
set some PBs, “I just went out and ran.” forget, everyone of us will experience a moment when
we run a time that we will never beat - we just don’t
Caroline Warrington is another with wise words: “I know when that is coming.
do realise that my target times are completely arbitrary
numbers and I should neither get too upset if I don’t My PB for the mile remains 5m 00s point 21.
achieve them nor limit myself by them. Someone (Editor’s note: James reveals a tension that lives to a
should remind me of that next time I’m grumpy after a greater or lesser extent in most runners’ minds. Having
race if I’ve missed my target!” not run a step for 30 years since teenage exploits, I
was astonished when I had the ridiculously modest
Times are undoubtedly important and it is only accomplishment of finishing a half marathon in under
natural to strive to be the best that we can be. But as 90 minutes. That seemed more than I could ever
much as they may stand as a measure of our abilities, expect, and so I told myself not to worry about times
they should not define how we see ourselves. The after that.)
simple joy of running transcends that. The truth is

24

PEOPLE

The
conqueror
of Nob Hill

From dominating the track, to plotting the success of other athletes at the Tokyo
Olympics, Peter Elliott knows a thing or 1500 about fast middle distance racing.
Running up hills built his famous strength, and competing in a golden era he frequently
got the better of Ovett, Coe & Cram and medalled at Commonwealth, World and
Olympic level. But for badly timed injuries and factors outside of his control, he may
well have added to his major championships medal haul of a bronze, two silvers and
a gold. From being at the top of the sport as an athlete, he is now a senior figure in its
organisation, working as the Director of Operations for the English Institute of Sport.

Having one of the most influential perspectives in athletics today, Herne Hill’s
Gavern Newsum went to speak to him, looking both back and ahead…

Gavern Newsum: You joined Rotherham Harriers PE: I would say so, I had parents that always
at the age of 12. When did you first realise you had encouraged me to do well and were never pushy
a talent and at what point did you really dedicate parents which is something I have done with my
yourself to it? own children. I believe it is important for children
to experience and enjoy a range of sports before
Peter Elliott: Winning the English school’s cross- committing to one. I trained with a group of all abilities
country title and then the 800m in 1977 showed I had and ages as a youngster. As I matured, I became
the potential to go on to greater things. I would say I the best within the group. It was when I moved to be
did not really dedicate myself to athletics until I was coached by Wilf Paish that I trained with athletes of
16. Up to that point I would still play football and run, a similar calibre on the track, however I would still do
however, it soon become evident that I was always my long runs with my club mates and this continued
going to be a more successful runner than a footballer. through my international career.

GN: Did it feel like the right balance between fun and GN: Did you have any running heroes as a kid?
success in school and at your club?

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PEOPLE

PE: Brendan Foster’s autobiography was the first “I never really enjoyed
one I ever read and this had quite an impact on me cross country and as
especially where he mentioned as a student he had a
poster on his bedroom wall which had pictures of the soon as I could, I went
first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, and the second man and competed indoors…
in space and also Mount Everest, the tallest mountain
in the world and the second tallest mountain with a no cold, no rain, no
caption underneath saying “No-one remembers who wind, no mud, no hills
is second’. I thought about this on many cross-country
races when it was beginning to hurt… maybe I should or being spiked with
have thought about it in Seoul! [nb: Elliott took silver in 15/18mm spikes”
the 1500m at the Seoul Olympics in 1988] Not quite
heroes however, I was a big fan of Steve Ovett having constant feedback and adjustments when and where
had the opportunity to train with him as a 16-year-old required.
on the Merthyr Mawr sand dunes, the ‘Big dipper’ and
I also admired the Great John Walker… Legend! GN: You had tremendous early success, winning the
800m and cross-country National races twice and
GN: What do you think of the popular interest going on to set the U15, U16 and U17 Best UK times
in running mainly due to Park Run, and are the for 800M. Your adult success obviously came on the
established running clubs making the most of that track – but what value do you think Cross Country
enthusiasm? running had for your development and did you ever go
back to it?
PE: Park Run is an excellent concept to reach out
to people of all abilities, however running clubs are PE: Cross country is the basis on which a good
the backbone of the sport and their success depends middle-distance runner is built. I was reasonably
on the quality of coaching available for the younger successful on the country and I have always been a
athletes, and to some extent the pastoral care…Park very strong athlete, which I believe comes from the
Runs could be regarded as a pathway into established background of cross country running, and the fact I
running clubs as you will have the more serious athlete live in a land of hills! What I will say is I never really
competing alongside the first timer, and those who are enjoyed cross country and as soon as I could, which
new and clearly have potential should be encouraged followed winning the national youths cross country
to join a more established club. title, I went and competed indoors…no cold, no
rain, no wind, no mud, no hills or being spiked with
GN: What are the most important things to protect, 15/18mm spikes. I did turn out in two of the Nova
preserve and/or develop so that young athletes international races in 1989 and 1990 at Durham.
feel happy in a club and preferably that their talent Short cross-country races (2Km and 3Km) but very
converts to adult success? strong fields with Cram, Herold and Ovett competing.

PE: I have always believed you will get by on natural GN: Did Hill training feature much?
talent up to a certain age, around 16, then you have PE: Yes, it did, long hills however, Rotherham is quite
to start putting in the real work to reach the next level. hilly therefore on any run you are going to encounter
I believe the difficult period for an athlete is between hills. Hills are used to build strength and I was running
the ages of 16 and 18 when life becomes a bit more at 5.20 pace on hills over 15 miles, lifting weights in
complicated outside of sport, e.g. studies, work, the gym and having a manual job in the steelworks so
moving away, finding a new training group/coach. We I became pretty strong overall and eventually stopped
all know that running is not an easy sport as it takes doing specific hill work. I did, on two occasions win
individual effort and there is no hiding place for a bad the San Francisco uphill mile. A difficult course where
performance. Therefore, the coach is a key factor you start at the bottom and race up Nob Hill, the road
in ensuring the athlete continues to enjoy the sport,
and that variety is present in training schedules, with

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PEOPLE

made famous in the Steve McQueen film Bullitt. stepped up to 70-75 miles per week. I found a mileage
GN: Was there one specific training session that that suited me from an injury perspective. What you
have to appreciate here is that my relaxed running
allowed you to kick on as a top MD runner? pace was between 5.15/5.20 per mile.
PE: Difficult one to answer as all athletes are
GN: Did you have a strict diet? No alcohol? Of all the
different. (But) The session which produced the most sacrifices you made to get to the top, which was the
amount of lactic acid and one which will sound easy hardest to stick to?
on paper is the 4 x 400m with 4 minutes recovery at
800m race pace so ideally 50 secs but moving to 52 PE: No strict diet at all. I ate what I liked and burnt
on the last rep. Before I started this session, I would it off doing the miles. I enjoyed a glass of lager on the
always look where the nearest bin was as I knew I odd occasion when I went out with friends. In my early
would have my head in it at some point. When you get career I would have steak, chips and peas before a
to the last rep it feels like someone has put a piano race and a full English if it was an afternoon race. It
on your back on the home straight and then when I was not until the 1987 World Champs in Rome, when
finished, I wanted to be ill, very ill, my arms and legs all there was in the village to eat was pasta, that I
swimming in lactic. The session that told me if I was realised that this was far better for me and quicker to
in shape to compete was a simple 200, 400, 600, digest than the red meat I had become accustomed
400, 200 with 2 and 3 minute recovery. I believe to. So, I became an advocate of pasta before races
having a balance of sessions is important. You have to from then on. I did not particularly have to make many
put in the sets of 800 or 1000m reps however, short sacrifices and the only one I can think of was having
recovery 300 and 400s are just as important along to be in bed at 21.30 as I was up running at 05.30
with pace work to develop speed and a kick finish. before starting work at 07.30 at British Steel. When I
hear today how some young athletes don’t train twice
GN: How differently did you approach the 800 and a day due to not having the time, I realise they do not
1500 in terms of your preparation, and during the appreciate there are two six O’Clocks in a day!
event the tactics and thought processes?
GN: How much focus did you and your coaches put
PE: The 800m appeared to become one long sprint on your running form?
especially when you are going through the bell in 50
point, so it was always important to make sure you ran PE: They, nor I, put too much emphasis on my
the 200m splits right as you were generally running running form. I had a low arm action and I worked
at your max. I preferred the 1500m as you had time with a sprints coach, Pete Watson, to try and develop
to settle into the race and relax more. What was my arm action as part of my kick for home. If you can
important was to stay focused on the third lap and if drive the arms high, then the legs should follow. You
it is slow coming up to the bell to ensure, especially in will always have athletes who look like poetry in motion
very slow 1500m races, that you were not just on the however, it can be slow poetry so if you are running
shoulder of the leader but inside his vest. Too many quick and it looks ungainly, but it is effective why
times I see British lads being too far off the pace at worry as long as it is economical?
the bell. If it a slow race and you are not in contention
at the bell and you are sitting too far back in the field GN: You worked a physically demanding job as a
then once they kick and put in a 51 second last lap joiner at British Steel for 11 years. Tell us about the
you are going to have to run 49/50 to catch them… impact of having a ‘real job’.
only the really gifted could possibly do that.
PE: I know several other British athletes had jobs
GN: What mileage would you typically do across the and others were full time athletes. I think you have
track season and winter? Was there much difference to find what is right for you. I really enjoyed my job
as you aged and had different coaches? and more so the company of my fellow colleagues. A
manual job in a steel works is not exactly conducive
PE: As an 800m runner I would run between 40- to the life of an international athlete although it
50 miles per week which included all sessions (runs, worked for me for 11 years, however it would not be
intervals, warm up/downs). When I moved to 1500m I something I would be recommending to a youngster

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these days. I originally worked full time, then in the
Seoul Olympic year I cut my hours down to four per
day. I was actually offered the full year off with full pay
to concentrate on the Olympics, however I wanted to
remain working as it gave me discipline. I eventually
went into full time athletics in 1990 for two years and
did not enjoy it, as I felt something was missing and
I had never been someone who lived for running. I
trained hard and I raced hard, however there was
more to life, so I found a part time role to fill the gap. I
always thought of my employment as an escape from
my running.

GN: Of all your injuries, which one was most painful
physically and emotionally in terms of the timing and
effect on your career?

PE: At the Seoul Olympics I was just going through
my final strides on the warm-up track before going to
the 800m final and suddenly found I could not run
due to an extreme pain in the abdomen, which I found
out later was a torn Pubic Symphysis. For me to get on
the Olympic start line required an injection, and then
after the 800m final I had one before each round of
the 1500m. Following the

Games, I believed my running career was over as I
had done too much damage to my body by competing,
however thanks to an excellent physio, Debbie Horne,
I eventually got back to competing again.

GN: In that ’88 Olympics, with your injury, you were
the only male athlete that ran in both the 800 and
1500 finals, competing in an extraordinary 7 races in
9 days. Did you ever specifically train your body for
the scenario of multiple races in a short space of time?
Could more be done from an organisational point of
view to help athletes who want to double up etc?

PE: It is a very good question. When you compete in
the major championships there are always qualifying
rounds and I always found these the most difficult,
as you can be up against less experienced runners.
The early rounds are really there to sort the ‘wheat
from the chaff’. I never really relaxed until I was in
the final, and once there anything can happen. In my
career it was simply expected that Britain would have
three athletes in the men’s 800m and 1500m final.
There are athletes who compete on the Grand Prix
circuit who will run a very good one off, fast-paced
race where you know what the split is at 400, 800

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and 1200m and you just need to be in the right place said when you stand on a start line you are making a
on the last lap. At championships you have to have a statement that you are in shape to compete therefore
racing brain, you have to go into the race with a plan, no one is interested in hearing your thoughts post-race
you have to execute that plan and you have to stay following a poor run saying things such as “I have yet
out of trouble, assessing your position at all times to start my speed work, I had a cold at the start of the
during the race and being ready to react to change. week, I have had a twinge in my calf etc…”. You got
Championship races, like Seoul, where there were beat, if you had doubts you should not be on the start
seven races over nine days, require a different type of line.
athlete; one who has the strength of body and mind to
be able to compete over this period. It is not a Grand I have not chosen this race as my worst based on
Prix race, it is a championship race, and at times the actual performance, as those who finished behind
these can be a very slow game of chess, anticipating me had a worse race, I selected it due to the situation
the athletes next move; being prepared to react and I found myself in and the hostility it created. It was
not be left on the back foot. I had no concerns about quite simply not a pleasant experience and not one
the number of races in Seoul as I knew I was a very I would want to relive. Plus, it set a precedent for
strong runner with a solid background of endurance athletes to appeal in similar situations.
behind me to carry me through the rounds.
GN: After the Commonwealth Gold in 1990 you
GN: What would you recall as your best and worst recorded some great early season times, smashing
run? (nb: a trademark feature of Red&Black magazine, the world indoor 1500 metres record and soon after,
see Simon Coombes’ recollections in this issue) you quit your work to become a full-time athlete. You
then became only the 3rd British runner and 6th man
PE: (My) Best race was the Commonwealth Games to run sub 1:43 for 800 metres. Were you consciously
1500m final in Auckland, New Zealand. There is a going after world record times and improving your PB’s
time in an athlete’s career when they are in a ‘purple in those latter years?
patch’ and at that Games I believed no one was going
to beat me. I had won all my races prior to the Games; PE: The only record I went for was the indoor
I had done a 1200m time trial and I knew no one in 1500m world record I set in 1990 following the
the field could run that fast and on the day the race Commonwealth Games. When I ran the 1.42.97 in
went exactly as I had planned beforehand. Seville it was the 30 May 1990 and no athlete really
expects to run so fast, so early in the season. I knew
The worst race was the European Championship I was in shape from the Commonwealths and the
1500m final in 1990 in Split. I was pushed over in indoor 1500m record, however the race in Seville
the heat and did not finish therefore, in my opinion, I was just another 800m and the start of the build-
was out of the championships. British athletics lodged up to the track season. I knew the pace was fast,
an appeal and suddenly I was back in the final with 24 secs at 200m, 50 point at the bell and 76 secs
no one asking my opinion. Yes, I was pushed over, at 600m. However, coming off the bend I simply
however that is the rough and tumble of distance overtook Johnnie Gray, USA, and I remember thinking
running. My appearance on the warm up track was to myself ‘win number 21 on the trot’. I crossed the
met with vitriolic abuse from some in the final, my line and looked at the clock and assumed the clock
presence in the call room was unwelcoming, and I can had stopped at some point when I was coming down
understand why, as there should be 12 in the race and the home straight. I asked my agent at the time, Kim
now there was 13 and the walk to the start line down McDonald, ‘What time did I run?” and he told me
the back straight was hostile. Before the gun I was 1.42.97. I was pleasantly surprised.
already in lactic acid and not physically or mentally in
the right place. I simply did not want to be there and GN: In ’91 you became UK champion in your first
ended up finishing fourth in the final. attempt for 3,000 metres. Were you ever thinking
about scaling up to 3,000m, 5,000m, 10,000m on the
I make no excuses for not being in the right frame track and or road in the latter stages of your career? I
of mind to compete or finishing fourth. I have always understand Brendan Foster told you some years later

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that longer distances might have suited you. pathway, the elite end to enable success at the
PE: One of my biggest regrets is that I never got to Olympics and Paralympic Games, which will ensure
funding from UK Sport and then money should be
run a competitive 5000m. The 3000m I ran in the UK found to cascade down to grass roots level to ensure
championships was a one off. It was a very windy day the pathway is producing the next generation of
and not conducive to a fast time, so I did just enough medallists.
to win the race. My pedigree as a cross country
runner, my 1500, mile and 2000m times added to the GN: What do you miss the most about running? Does
fact I could run very comfortably in training over 15 your recreational cycling fill the void?
miles at 5.20 pace, along with recording the fastest leg
of the northern road relays in 1990, suggested I would PE: Cycling is completely different, and I do it as it
have been very good over 5000m. Unfortunately, my is a means to an end due to having three protruding
career was cut short due to injury so there is always discs in my back. I get a cardio vascular workout, I
the question of what might have been. get to travel on some of the routes I used to run on
my long Sunday morning runs and I am with friends
GN: Tell us about your role as Director of Operations I used to train with who, like me, cannot run as
at the English Institute of Sport. Is your specific role much as we would due to a variety of injuries. What
related solely to athletics? I miss the most about running is the fitness it brings,
I have not done any other sport, cycling, squash,
PE: The role is not athletics-specific. I have an karate which gives me the same feeling of fitness as
overview of 10 high performance centres scattered running. I particularly miss those crisp early morning
throughout England where we provide sports science, winter runs. What I do not miss however, is having my
medicine and technology to athletes who will be head in a bin being sick after hard interval sessions
competing in the Tokyo games. There are a lot of very and wanting someone to remove my arms and legs
talented individuals who are either aiming for Tokyo or because of the lactic.
are on the pathway to Paris across a range of different
sports that we work with.

GN: It would only be natural to imagine the benefits
you’d have gained from the English Institute of Sport
(EIS) support network if it had been available when
you were running! How have things moved on and
what do you wish you had known back then? For
example, could some of the injuries been averted or
dealt with better?

PN: The advantage these days for athletes who are
on a world class programme is that no stone is left
unturned. As an example, if an athlete on a world
class programme, UK Sport funded, was to hurt
themselves on the indoor track in Sheffield they would
be brought into the EIS support centre and they would
see a physio and if required a doctor. If they need
a scan this can be arranged for the same day or at
the latest the following day, the results sent through
within 48 hours and a rehabilitation plan will be put in
place. This is a long way from my days when you were
expected to source all this by yourself.

GN: Should athletics keep predominantly investing in
elite athletics or do more for true grass roots?

PE: I think you have to invest in both ends of the

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PEOPLE

The rub of
true club
athletics

Middle distance coach and team manager for the Southern Athletics League,
Steve Knight, gets to grips with what it means to build a squad of athletes, picks his
highlights from the year, and sees something remarkable happening at the grass roots

level worthy of more attention and support from UK Athletics…

Like most of the Club Coaches, I also have the role a smattering of the Elite runners at each match. The
as the Team Manager for the Southern Athletic scenes at the finish of the 4 x 400 relay at Tooting in the
League team (SAL). This is a mixed gender team last match were testimony to the real team spirit that the
from Under 17, through all age groups up to and group had built over a two year period.
including Masters (Over 35s). We really struggled in Year
1 and were promptly demoted! There were a number of The entire teams from Hercules Wimbledon and
reasons; summarised as an inability to fill the events and ourselves were all spewing on to the track by the finish
indeed to fill the team slots with anything like regular line as Isaac chased down the Hercules runner in a sub
personnel. The road from that point onwards was 2 50 last leg. As a couple of the officials at the finish line
years long and culminated with the two matches in July commented – this is what club athletics is all about, why
and August this year. don’t UK Athletics come out and see just how great the
grass roots stuff is and put more money into it?
The task was to develop a squad and to a large extent,
people it with those who were able to commit to the Not wishing to get into a debate about funding grass
team. The SAL is not like the other leagues, the BAL, the roots athletics, they certainly were on the money other
UKWAL or the new NAL. Those are Elite leagues and than that. So many people were living in the moment,
quite rightly, the best available athletes compete in them with enormous levels of intensity and satisfaction in what
on the day. they individually had achieved and how that contributed
to the whole. This is only one group of competitors
The SAL served a different function for an entirely within our great club but the same emotional highs are
different group of athletes. We finished a very pleasing experienced by all, and indeed the disappointments can
3rd place at the end of the season on the strength of be equally intense, but we know we are alive in those
a series of squad performances, ably supported by moments.

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The SAL team acts as a bridge to the NAL team, “The group trained
it allows U17 and U20 athletes to learn to compete with intensity and
against adults and in the field, to get experience with great good humour.
senior implements. There are a whole group of track The level of support
and field athletes for whom this is simply the right level towards each other
of competition. They may never be NAL athletes, but is almost tangible.”
they will get just as much pleasure and satisfaction from
competing in the SAL, something that I can attest to The team owes much to Coaches Mayhew, Bosley and
from my competitive career. The SAL team also provides Jerwood for their continued support and all the officials
competition for many of our good Masters athletes. As I who travel to our matches.
have already said, there are also slots where NAL people
compete; they may be in need of a race or simply willing The other part of my commitment with the Club is
to help out. to look after the second tier of distance runners with
the able assistance of Glen Keegan. Our group has
Athletes from all these grouping make up the squad, continued to grow. We now regularly see over 40 on a
and over two years it has become progressively easier Tuesday evening but only small numbers on a Thursday.
to select and confirm teams because they know exactly However, the Thursday has seen a strong start for
where they fit in. They have been loyal to the team and speed work for a fledgling 800 / 1500m group, who
I am loyal to them. They are all aware of the selection are beginning to go very well, even in the depths of the
policy and are happy to accommodate the youngsters winter. Roll on the Indoor season! I am also pleased to
and guide them through as well as make them feel at report that athletes have made a successful transition to
home. the Elite group with Geoff and Keith.

This was particularly true of our senior lady sprinters More and more are turning out to race in club
who made sure that several good young sprinters were colours in the matches that matter. That is still a work
bloodied alongside their own stalwart performances. in progress. Gavern and Eric were our super racers.
Team Captain (U17) Memphis Ayoade was inspirational Gavern ran 12 PBs and Eric ran a monster 29 PBs
again – the first to compete in the High Jump and the over 12 months. He finally broke the 3 hour barrier for
last off the track in the 4 x 400 team. I was so pleased the marathon. Monika ran a string of road PBs and
that Memphis got to the ESAA Championships this year Lara won selection for a major sprint TRI this coming
and he was selected to compete for Surrey in the Multi summer. Susan Mair shone. Helen Oldfield shone and
Events competition. This meant that he was unavailable Derek Lee trained and raced with the enthusiasm of a
twice. Lo and behold, U20 and 3-year regular in the 16 year old.
team, Micah Goode, stepped in and did a fantastic job.
The group trained with intensity and great good
Vanessa and Lily mothered the sprinters, and the humour. The level of support towards each other is
middle distance men and women were the glue of almost tangible. Injured runners have turned up to hold
the team, many of them also filling in with field events the stop watch at training sessions. There is a joy that
when needed, including our steeplechasers. Des and comes from a common purpose and identity. On many
Haley were ever present in the throws. The jumps were occasions, I get back from training sessions buzzing
populated by a group of very special Under 17s. There in almost the same way as I did as an active athlete!
are far too many to name sadly but I will pick out Aimee What’s not to like.
Hargreaves who made it into the UKWAL team along
with our senior sprinters.

Missing promotion may be a blessing in disguise;
when this group does go up and it won’t be long, we will
be sufficiently mature to stay up, the young athletes will
be experienced and the squad will have a strength that
will make the product greater than the sum of its parts.

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Best feet
further
forward

Things have gone from good to better for the runners working with Geoff Jerwood, here
he picks some highlights and writes about one weekend in particular

My highlights of the previous year begin with world in Australia but I am still coaching her and her
resounding Surrey League wins in February and fantastic win in the Women’s 1500m at the Australian
March 2019 for our women’s Cross Country Championship provided another incredibly proud
(XC) team with individual wins in both races for Stacey result for both of us, which our train travellers watched
Ormerod and Georgie Grgec second behind Stacey in on phones for inspiration en route to race in Sutton
the final race. Also in February our under 20 women’s Coldfield.
team won the National XC championship in Leeds
pipping Aldershot by 2 points led by Liv Stillman and But in December Chloe produced a performance that
backed up by Ella Newton and Kate Brown, with our was arguably even better, with her fabulous silver medal
senior women placing 8th again led by Stacey as we in the Albie Thomas Mile women’s A race in Sydney,
brought home the Nelson Neal Trophy for the best which was also the Australian championship. Although
scoring club of the day across all of the female age already the reigning Australian women’s 1500m
groups. If that wasn’t enough the following day Fiona de champion, it’s fair to say that the field in the mile race
Mauny won the Brighton Half Marathon which was our was far stronger than the one Chloe beat in the 1500m,
winter target race for Fi. as it was probably the best domestic women’s middle
distance field ever assembled in the country. The start
In March our women’s team easily won the Southern list boasted 8 women who have represented Australia
Road Relays at Milton Keynes, one of my proudest in championship competition and 5 of the runners had
moments as I very much regard this as “my” team with 800m PBs of 2m01s or faster, which was why Chloe
Liv, Georgie, Katie Snowden, Stacey, Ella and Fi our had to make her move before the bell. The performance
winning A team, and Katie running the fastest short was even more astonishing given she had run only one
stage overall, a feat she emulated when our women speed session in preparation for the race.
won silver medals at the National road relays in April at
Sutton Coldfield, written up at greater length below. Track results were less easy to come by with a
number of our key women injured through the summer,
Chloe Tighe may now be on the other side of the

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but a huge highlight at the end of the season was the However this was to be another step up in quality as the
performance of Fiona de Mauny in Jesolo, Italy, where event is one of the biggest distance racing days on the
she peaked at the right time again to win silver medals British road running calendar.
at both 400m and 800m at the European Masters
Championship, beaten only by a stellar athlete who is As with South of England team medals, Harriers have
still a regular pacemaker in Diamond League events. I been striving to achieve at this fixture for a number of
was also able to enjoy staying in Venice for the duration, years, and with a best team position of 11th there were
which was another fabulous experience. high hopes of a top 5 finish at least on this occasion. At
last the stars aligned as the best six Herne Hill women
Our men have also shown superb progress as a at the relevant race distances on form and fitness at that
collective squad, as our track middle distance and time all combined wonderfully to produce a phenomenal
our XC teams push forward together with some great A team performance and win national silver medals, and
road racing results. Richard Henderson continues to were only beaten by an exceptional Leeds team who
inspire in what are tremendously strong Surrey League broke their own course record.
races, often leading from the front but with our packing
getting ever closer behind him in the recent races, with Steph McCall, who had been a late withdrawal from
our depth improving all the time in both sessions and the winning Southern relay team due to illness, ran a
races. The fact that our men’s B team in a 10 to score superb first leg, a long stage around the undulating
contest are placed a very good 2nd in the league after Sutton Park of 8.9km. The first leg is traditionally
2 of the 4 races is a source of both encouragement and stacked with international athletes, as the top clubs
satisfaction. seek a strong start and other clubs with less team depth
often put their best runner out first, so McCall’s excellent
In marathon racing I helped Nick Bester to just miss eighth place at the end of her stint, timed at 30.03
his 2 hours 30 minutes marathon target in London in (tenth fastest long leg overall), was the start Herne Hill
April, and then to just about achieve said goal in Berlin needed to set up a challenge.
in September, while I was so pleased to see huge PB
times for Myles Preston and Henry Brown on the same Irishwoman Jessica Craig, the London Cross Country
October day in Abingdon and Amsterdam with 2.41.39 champion from last winter, ran well to overtake three
and 2.48.30 respectively as our plan most certainly women on the second leg, a short stage of 5.1km, as
worked a treat. she recorded the third best time on this leg and the 11th
fastest overall on the day, clocked at 18.03.
Finally a word for our cross country captains Julia
Wedmore and Angus Butler who have both had good The fastest overall short stage came on leg three,
years with very fine results on track, road and cross as Harriers’ GB middle distance international,
country and are making a huge difference to our teams Commonwealth 1500m finalist, Katie Snowden took over
both with the example of their racing performances and in fifth place and handed over at the end of her fabulous
attitudes and their engaging with other team and squad run in the lead at the halfway stage of the six stage
members which can only help to propel our collective to relay race. Snowden looked determined, composed
the next level as individual athletes and as valuable team and strong throughout her race and her time of 17.02
members. was not only the best of the race, but was more than a
A runaway weekend minute quicker than anyone else on the leg she actually
ran.
Sometimes things come together all at once.
That happened for Herne Hill’s women athletes on Stacey Ormerod had the unenviable task of leading
one weekend in 2019, Geoff Jerwood describes what off on the fourth leg, the second of the two long stages,
happened… as she had three international athletes in hot pursuit.
Although not quite keeping the lead, Ormerod used her
Herne Hill Harriers club women’s teams arrived at the experience to do a fine job for her team as her 30.29,
National Road Relays Championship at Sutton Coldfield the 13th best long leg overall, left the team in third place
on the first Saturday in April 2019 with new confidence and still right in the medal hunt with the leading four
as the recently crowned South of England Champions. teams now a long way ahead of the rest.

34

Rapidly improving 18 year old Liv Stillman again raced PEOPLE
with great maturity as she paced herself beautifully over
the early hills and pulled away from the fourth team. By 35
the end of her run she had edged the team back into
second. Her 18.00 was third fastest on her leg and the
tenth best short stage of the day.

Georgie Grgec was always going to be one of the best
anchor leg runners in the entire race and so it proved.
Second best on her leg only behind the runner from the
team already ahead, Grgec strongly consolidated the
silver medal placing as her time of 17.54 was seventh
fastest of all short legs on the day.

Amazingly with four of the fastest eleven short leg
runners and two of the fastest thirteen on the long
stages the Herne Hill A team of six still finished behind
Leeds, but the team ran around ten minutes faster than
the previous year’s cumulative time and were backed
up by an amazing women’s B team. Sarah Grover
(32.42), Ella Newton (19.05), Katie Kedward (20.12),
Fiona de Mauny (33.41), Katie Balme (20.08) and Zoe
Tompkins (19.24) were also second among the B teams
and placed 13th overall, a position the A team had only
previously bettered on one or two occasions and with
such a strong squad there is cause to feel confident of
further progress.

Before this on the same Saturday, as they were ten
hours ahead of us in Sydney at the time, the Athletics
Australia track and field championship saw Herne Hill’s
Chloe Tighe win the women’s 1500m national title with
a beautifully executed victory in 4.11.77, hitting the front
with a lap to go and quickly creating a gap over her rivals
which ultimately proved to be unassailable.

A full time primary school teacher in Dubai at the time
of racing, Tighe lived in Tooting for two years in 2016
and 2017 and her return to competitive athletics after
several years of “retirement” was first triggered by her
participation at the Tooting Common parkrun and then
joining HHH. Now living back in Australia, Chloe is still
coached by me remotely from London.

In a momentous weekend for the club, another
member in superb overseas action was Michella
Obijiaku, who set a new Herne Hill Harriers club
women’s hammer record of 54.66m with her PB on the
same day in Towson MD USA – the Herne Hill women
were on fire all around the world in April 2019...

PEOPLE

All levels, all weathers,
all comers - Herne Hill’s
Veterans take it to the world

(and down the road)

Up the Hill, cries Valdis Pauzers, Herne Hill’s Veterans Team Manager, as the caravan of
red and black striped over-35 athletes take on all comers, all courses and all weathers

to bring home an impressive crop of results…

In 2019 we set off with the British Masters cross the event. Ben Paviour powered home in recovering
country championships back in March and soon fell two places in 7th (16-54) yet a mere 7 seconds short
into the rigours of the Road Relays and the Track and of Simon’s medal winning individual time. M45 ‘B’ saw
Field season. The ever-popular BMAF Road Relays 18th Derek Lee’s first visit to Sutton Coldfield (33rd 19-36)
May 2019 at Sutton Coldfield were contested with mixed as it was for Marcelo de Santos Fortes (37th 23-47) who
success, but we were importantly still in evidence. sadly had to leave this team incomplete, but both raced
well and enjoyed the experience.
Several more were entered but ‘only’ 12 men were
up in the Midlands on the day, closing three teams and Spring also brought out the sprinters, throwers and
running an incomplete fourth over the accurate and jumpers to augment the club for the Southern Vets Track
undulating 3 mile circuit. Pride of club place went to the & Field Championships, Mid-London Division. Kicking
M55 team(s), The ‘A’ team being led out by Vic Maughn off at Battersea, 13th May for Match 1 of the four Mid-
(9th 19-06) followed by Keith Newton (5th 19-17) with London division league matches. Qualification to the
Gary Ironmonger closing out in 4th place (18-35). The Southern Area finals remains a tough ask and requires
‘B’ team consisted of Tony Harran (26th 21-56), Ian concerted team co-ordination and effort.
Strong (30th 28-29) and Valdis Pauzers (25th 22-41).
Highly acceptable considering many of those runners That hardcore of regular competitors included Patti
were just out of or suffering post-injury niggles. Gnoato, Nikki Sturzaker, Barbara Macanas, Lucy
Clapp and Gillian Wheeldon who were ever present
Our M45 teams were up among the best, too, Simon and / or completed in excess of ten events over the
Coombes favours first leg and relished the day as he season. Similarly, our ever present or ten-plus event
pushed for the lead, shoulder to shoulder with Leeds men consisted of Paul Marriott, Dion Panambalana,
City’s Jon Walton only giving way over the inclined Chris Carden, Andy Weir, Des Austin, Garth Francis and
handover run in. A massively gritty run (2nd 16-47) Dan Hallam. Matchday team positions were as follows
which earned Simon the third fastest M45 leg of the day. reflected our overall ascendancy but belies the fact
Super-miler Joffah Ratcliffe put in a sprint engine room winning the division needed both commitment and guile.
effort, for 4th overall (18-23) followed by Dave ‘Dundee’ Match 1 Battersea HHH Men 1st HHH Women 1st
Adam (9th 19-37) after a more than six hour drive to Match 2 Hillingdon HHH Men 1st HHH Women 2nd

36

Amazingly Herne Hill’s women sneaked second place Tay, Wayne Lashley and Mike Cummings augmented our
by one point with a mere seven women, each putting in significantly depleted squad, as did M50 Rob Nagorski.
two to five events, and all on a drenched, windy night.
Match 3 Battersea HHH Men 1st HHH Women 1st Thirty five years old, plus one day, Mike Cummings
Match 4 Perivale HHH Men 1st HHH Women 1st won his 1500m sharpener for EuroVets. Mike Tay
enjoyed the sprints and both relays, although he’s
Which made both Men and Women’s teams divisional trained for 800m. Wayne Lashley revelled in his 800m
champions and qualified us both for the Southern Area and 400m races and closed out with a 400m relay leg.
Finals. The Southern Regional T&F finals is a step up
in standard and is a ‘full athletics timetable’. We were Our middle distance strength helped our points tally;
aggravated by the shortcoming of having too few athletes Simon Coombes contributing 1500m 1st and 3000m
and having those present to double up and beyond, but 2nd, Raj Paranandi getting the 3000m B string 1st
praise indeed for those that made sure we had a damn place, Gary Ironmonger outsprinted to 2nd in M50
good punt at the final. If there was a prize for vocal team 1500m with Andy Weir also a keen 2nd in the M50
support at the final it would reside in Tooting. 3000m. Jon Key gained a season’s best in 800m
to justify his fleeting visit to Ashford. Further match
It was a warm blustery, dry day at the Julie Rose excesses and unparalleled commitment came from
Stadium, Ashford. Paul Marriott who took on 100m, 200m, HJ, LJ, TJ
& 100m relay, Dion Panambalana 100m, 200m, LJ
Dana Williamson set the multi-tasking theme for the before succumbing to hamstring problems, whereas
day (setting PB’s in 100m to 800m) and insisting she Dan Hallam took on Triple and High Jumps with 400m
was fine to complete a total of six events. Steph Mitchell, individual event and a 400m relay leg.
needing a cautious (Heavens above!) return to running
and track, tactically decided on B-strings races but Our perennial throwers put in their redoubtable shift;
did four events and a relay leg (& survived). Barbara Des Austin, Chris Carden and Garth Francis. Des took
Macanas covered the four throws, earning a season’s on all the four throws, Chris the M60 Shot and Javelin
best in the Hammer. Seandelle Haley took on three of whilst Garth dropped in age group to throw Discus and
the W35 throws as Kath Moeller took on the Javelin and Javelin while covering the M60 High Jump for a season’s
a Long Jump. best. Ever committed Allan Long, M75 and off to the
Euros the next morning, toed the line by cadging a lift to
Welcoming new recruits Nicky Perry and Liz Begley, Ashford and had a real close battle for 2nd in the 100m,
caught the mood with Nicky covering W60 sprints and then stepped in for the Long Jump too for a 3rd place,
High Jump whilst Liz confronted the W60 Long Jump all M60 age group.
after her 1500m. Both then covered a relay leg. The
returning Nicola Richmond and Cindy Godwin (who This left Waldy Pauzers, the team manager time to
respectively took on the 3000m and 1500m) came to ‘only’ cover M60 400m, 1500m and the M35 2000m
our desperate call for athletes. walk, consecutive events on the timetable. Glen Keegan
doubled at 400m & 2km Walk, too.
Last, but not least were our stalwarts Penelope
Cummings, Lucy Clapp, Mandy Brown and Gillian No less than 37 male and 23 female veterans took
Wheeldon. Penelope walked to her 2000m personal part in the veterans Track and Field competition over the
best before going to the EuroVets. Lucy gave us two summer. Thanks to all who got us qualified for the final,
solid results in the W50 1500m and 3000m coming competed at the final, officiated or assisted at any time
2nd and 3rd respectively. Mandy sacrificed all to cover throughout the season.
W50 sprints in her four events, whilst Gillian strangely
but successfully redeployed her efforts to an 800m, The saving grace for some of the missing at Vets
High Jump and Javelin throw due to her intended team final, was their outstanding performances at the
sprinting action leading to significant pain. European Veterans Championships, Jesolo, near Venice,
Italy from 5th September representing both Great Britain
Similar match day constraints and deployment were and HHH. Topped by Giuseppe Minetti’s brilliant victory
being pursued in the men’s match. New veterans Mike in the M50 200m, now our own European Champion.
Both (world vet 800m champion in 2018) Fiona de

37

Mauny (2nd 400m and 800m) and Mike Cummings medals too. Stalwart of the women’s VETs team Nikki
(2nd 800m and 1500m) took home two silver medals Sturzaker started gently early in the season, taking the
each and Stuart Thurgood another silver coming 2nd in VAC cross country title, moved up a level in winning
the 15.88kg weight throw. the Surrey 1500m and 800m, and the British mile in
her age group. She then swept the board at Southern
Allan Long took home a 4x100m relay bronze (with a and British indoor masters championships, taking gold
GB record) whilst Penelope Cummings earnt a 20km medals in the Southern 800m, 1500m, 3000m and
walk GB team bronze to complete the HHH European long jump, plus a silver in the 400m, and then more
Vets medal haul. Our intrepid HHH Veteran competitors gold in the British 800m, 1500m and 3000m, and,
in Jesolo (and their overall impressive results) were as incredibly, also a silver in the javelin. She is going to
follows: need a bigger trophy cabinet.
Giuseppe Minetti M50 200m 1st 24.25s (s/f Winter sets in

24.03s) European Champion The ‘winter’ season commenced with the Surrey
Fiona de Mauny W35 400m 2nd 59.06s Road Relays at Wimbledon Park on 14th September. A
women’s W45 team (consisting of Helen Oldfield, Fiona
silver medallist Nicholson and Alex Fendina) took 3rd place for county
W35 800m 2nd 2m-12.78s bronze medals. The M50 team surpassed this to win
their relay (Gary Ironmonger, Joffah Ratcliffe, Mike Boyle
silver medallist and Tom Conlon managed to outwit Guildford & G. in
Mike Cummings M35 800m 2nd 1m-57.25s a competitive M50 race. Herne Hill’s M40 team (Fabio
Maroni, Robin Sanderson, James Ward, Deron Fagan)
silver medallist came in 7th.
M35 1500m 2nd 2m-12.78s
The following weekend gave us the South of England
silver medallist Road Relays at Crystal Palace where age group
Stuart Thurgood M40 Weight Throw 15.51m performances were reversed. The M40 team 1st leg Raj
Paranandi, came home 3rd. Robert Peacock and John
silver medallist Kettle kept in touch by handing over in 4th to last man
Penelope Cummings W 40 20km walk 4th 2h-5m-27s Ben Paviour. Ben’s typical determination chased down
and overtook the last leg North Herts runner for bronze
(W40 team bronze) team medals. The M40 B-team completed in 21st place,
W40 10km walk 6th 53m-08s consisting of Robin Sanderson, Rob Nagorski, Jon Key
W40 5km walk 6th 28m-06s and Marcello Fortes.
Allan Long M75 100m 6th 14.90s
Our M50 Surrey RR Champions bobbled between 6th
finalist and 8th place. In racing order, Gary Ironmonger, Keith
M75 200m 4th 30.25s Newton, Joffah Ratcliffe and Tom Conlon finally closed
out in a respectable 7th place. Our XC season began at
finalist the Surrey Vets XC Championships at new venue Merton
M75 4x100m relay 3rd 60.48s Park on 19th October 2019. Mary Setyabule (W50, 6th)
taking HHH honours in the Women’s and M60+ race to
(British Record) lead home closely followed by Jess Winfield (W35 8th).
Michelle Watson W35 100m 5th 12.40s Valdis Pauzers had to concede defeat to the ladies in
8th M65 quickly followed by Sam Whiting (W40 13th)
finalist and Rebecca Barrow (W45 11th). Sarah Allen (7th W55)
But it was not only in Italy we outperformed. Back completed the women competing. HHH’s women’s
home, for example, HHH’s W45 Nikki Sturzaker, a W50 team scoring 5th overall. Closing out our race Phil
lynchpin of our Womens Veterans Squad throughout the Parish, an ex-club president, in 14th M65 on his grand
summer, flagged up her intent to multi-task at the BMAF
indoors at Lee Valley over weekend of 09-10 March
2019 where she won 3 golds and 1 silver. Well done
to every one of you, please repeat for Seniors and Vets
teams alike next season.
Editors extra: How many medals? The extraordinary
season of Nikki Sturzaker
One Herne Hill athlete ran herself into the ground
as she also ran herself into an extraordinary string of

38

HHH comeback. M50 team would theoretically claim another 7th overall
The M40 and M50 race followed where Ben Paviour position, of which many a first team would be proud.)

was prominent, though (ex-HHH) Kevin Quinn won for M65 ex-president and team manager did his proper
SLH. Ben pushed hard and finished second M45 taking job to sweep up and cover the R&B hoops ahead of
home a fine silver medal and third runner overall in the him. Finishing before the pies sold out at the clubhouse
race. Gary Ironmonger came home with an M55 silver was a godsend, (12th M65). We then made our annual
and confirmed he is on his way back to full fitness. visit to Oxford’s Royal Blenheim pubic house to recollect
James Ward (M40 14th), Duncan Rimmer (M40 18th) the day, previous successes and forge future intents!
Tony Harran (M55 10th), Deron Fagan (M45 19th), Now then, we need a squad to perform for the fourth
Marcelo De Santos Fortes (M45 23rd) and Ian Strong consecutive year at the BMAF XC champs on 14th
(M55 19th) completed our compliment. Our M40 March 2020, Corwen, Denbighshire, Wales. Let’s go
team came in 5th, whilst our M50’s placed 6th. XC for it!
2nd claimer Mike Mann, took 1st M70 for the 2nd year
running. A debrief at The Trafalgar, South Wimbledon
led us to tales of Horspath, Oxford and the SoEAA
championships where we subsequently found ourselves
on December 7th.

The Horspath course consisted of soft ground in
the flat field, mud and truly rough hilly ground in the
woods, a real XC course. No quarter was given whilst
HHH maintained our high profile presence in quality
and quantity (fifteen runners) at these prestigious
championships, over the 10km distance. At least the
rain stayed off and even the chilly wind seemed to relent
as we lined up at the start.

Oh, so close for the second year for HHH M40
team, missing out (again) to Brighton for team victory,
so taking the closest possible for second place. Such
consistent work from Ben Paviour (2nd M45), John
Kettle (4th M40) and Simon Coombes (3rd M45). As
last year too, Ben and Simon took individual medals at
M45. But the red and black hoops did not stop there,
Matt Munro crooned his way to 10th M40, Gavern
Newsum placed 20th M40 and Ollie Morrison 26th M40
with resoundingly solid performances over the testing
course. These three placings would effectively give them
7th team place overall on their own merit.

It was equally grievous the way our M50’s were 5th
placed team, yet performed better than their 4th place
of the previous year. Scorers were Gary Ironmonger (6th
M55), Joffah Ratcliffe (10th M50) and club president
Keith Newton closing the team (at 10th M55). Yet,
Trevor Chilton (18th M50), comeback man Vic Maughn
(18th M55), Andrew Simms (26th M50), Tony Harran
(23rd M50), Rob Nagorski (26th M55) also completed
to show our clear strength in depth. (Similarly, our 2nd

39

What track do you roll to?
The musical kind, not the red oval ones. Red&Black asked and you answered. Here are the top six tracks chosen and the reasons
why from their nominees…

• M “aM6At8aohsylaveofleitnseegolosdptnaahannauvddtepdrwoe-tetshhCoaeenurdaswmrttaceiihysrseafadMollsreDanyamoyglufeeoiyder‘edTltidhihgnoecdmlpeupresespijovu’nedainaacdpsepshmroooupfacecthhfhuealtlsotyimwo‘mueer,odsvaipednodoSrntta.e”tuvhpKel’ee.OtiAtevhstehtNstle.uetwAcihcntsodanisEndTtohMmeom7se0iess Swamnadsitha80tghsordeom.uTgbhhreatcsheoedublblmalacuckskipcaonowdfeCrwushraittliueste in

• W “Baelckainugseonit’bsrcohkeeenrfgulla. sBsut- Annie Lennox EVERYTHING HURTS.” Evie McDermott
reminds me that

• It’s a long to the top b(iafsyisouofwhaanrtdtwo ornocpker‘sno’nraollle) x–peArCie/nDcCe.” Simon Coombes
“A choice made on the

• B “hJriulels”atkbfyoMrKytahSteetrlBiydureischs-..M”ItaG’stetaohfetfewJrerWribwilloedoesdorng really, but some of the words fit the bill, and it seemed more original than “Running up that

• R “pTuehrnfeeTcootnTlfyhorewtaHeymiltlpsoo–prruIernposanrteMoofao.”irdMaennyoletshePrrebsrutotnal session on Streatham Common, courtesy of Geoff Jerwood. The thudding bass is
• K “Iete’spgOrenaRt ufonrntihnegl-asStpoefnccreorssDacvoiusngtrryoruapc.es.” Steve Knight

Red and Black

Bean Soup

Gracing our occasional culinary pages, Max Curzon Hope gives us an easy midweek meal full of protein and fibre that also
gives you the chance to #Represent the club…

Ingredients:
1 onion, 1 tin of kidney
pinch of chilli flecks, 1 beans, 1 tin of black beans, 1 tsp of ground cumin, 1 tsp of ground coriander, 1/4 tsp of cinnamon, 1
tin of tomatoes, 600ml veg stock. 1 lime.

Method:
Fry the onion
tinned beans in small amount of oil. Add the spices and cook them with the onion for 5 minutes on a low heat. Add the of
(don't drain) and tomatoes. Add the stock and simmer for 30 minutes. Blend the soup. Serve with a squeeze
lime juice. Optional extra: grated cheese.

Front cover picture shows Herne Hill senior man, Jack Dickenson, picture by Chris de Mauny

www.hernehillharriers.org


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