Classic Races - Centurions1911

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Classic races: London to Brighton (and Back) 1902 -1967

The London to Brghton was one of the most famous of point-to-point races and coupled with a return Brighton to London (104 miles) was the qualifying race for the Centurions from 1902 for many years.
The last London to Brighton and Back was held in 1967.


POLICE AA BARKING-to-SOUTHEND
This commenced in 1921 and was won by Police Constable Atkinson of 'N' Division in 5 hours 29 minutes and 31 seconds. The race was over 32-and-a-quarter miles, and was extended in 1926 to 33 miles 6 furlongs and 148 yards. It was revised in 1937 at 33 miles, 6 furlongs and 50 yards. The race was the British Police Long Distance Championship and among trophies competed for were Inter-Force awards and also Metropolitan Police Inter-Division titles. The race commenced outside Barking Police Station in East London and finished with a lap of the football pitch at Roots Hall, home of Southend United Football Club.  The course was almost entirely on 'A' class roads and ever increasing traffic levels forced this great event off the road in the 1980s.

HASTINGS-to-BRIGHTON
This commenced in 1930 and was won by Tommy Green (Belgrave Harriers) in 6 hours and 35 seconds. Two years later Mr.Green won an Olympic Gold medal over 50 Kilometres at Los Angeles! The distance was 37 miles, though would be extended to 38 miles in later years. Many great walkers won this race. It was deemed by many to be harder than the much longer London-to-Brighton owing to the nature of the course. The course commenced on Hastings seafront and ended at Brighton Aquarium on the seafront, having taken a testing route via Lewes.  Britain's other Olympic 50 Kilometres Gold Medalists appear on the winners' list, Harold Whitlock MBE (1936 Berlin) and Don Thompson MBE (1960 Rome). Increasing traffic levels ended this event in the 1980s when it then became a 50K race in Hove Park, near Brighton...but that's also now folded.

MANCHESTER-to-BLACKPOOL
This was 48 and-a-quarter miles and commenced in 1909 with 22 entries, being won by T. Payne in 7 hours 43 minutes and 53 seconds. Distances altered over the coming years being staged over 52.5  miles (1910/11), 51-and-a-quarter miles (1912-to-1927), 50 miles (1928-to-1932), 50-and-half miles (1933), 50-and-a quarter miles (1934)  There were no contests from 1935 to 1949 (inclusive) before it returned in 1950, being won by Percy Reading in 8.24.14 over 51 and three-quarter miles, at which distance it remained to its demise in 2000 owing to increasing traffic the need for risk assessment procedures, and dwindling numbers of officials. It was replaced by a 50 Miles race in Stanley Park, Blackpool  which has also since folded. In 1922 a record 102 started a race won by Italian International Donato Pavesi in 8.12.44. Many great walkers won this event, including Olympians, and of course, Centurions. The race commenced outside Manchester Town Hall at 6.15am in the morning and took its competitors through Bolton and Preston before finishing along Blackpool's famous "Golden Mile".

LEICESTER-TO-SKEGNESS 100 MILES
This commenced in 1958 and was won by Wilf Smith of the promoting Leicester Walking Club in 18 hours, 2 minutes and 37 seconds, from 41 starters of whom 25 finished. The route commenced in central Leicester's Victoria Park and finished on Skegness seafront by the clock tower, having gone through Peterborough, Spalding, Boston and Wainfleet all on 'A' class roads. Increasing traffic levels brought about it's demise. Many great walkers contested this event, which was held bi-annually until its last staging in 1978 when 64 started and 41 finished. Just as in the first race back in 1958, a member of the promoting Club (Leicester) won : Jack Heywood in 18 hours and 19 minutes exactly. Among finishers in that last event was a certain Don Thompson MBE, an Olympic Gold medalist 18 years earlier!  The race continued on a multi-lap format around the outskirts of Leicester, firstly at Congerstone then Hungarton, before folding for good.


and further afield....


Now showing on YouTube

Paris-Colmar races (and other classic races such as Roubaix) are now making their way to YouTube and other film archives.
     Competing were no. 23 John (Paddy) Dowling of Sheffield and Colin Young number 19 Newham and Essex Beagles.
 
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