My race walking career started accidentally when I walked for CPAC for Westward League points in a 1972 track 3km at the age of 33 years and was persuaded to join a race walking club. So at 76 I have been walking 10 more years than not, my competition career’s only major interruption in that time being in January 1997 when a near fatal RTA kept me off the road.
I was catapulted through the side window of a campervan onto the M5 north of Michaelwood services and airlifted to Frenchay Hospital for emergency surgery. Wearing daughter’s black tights to protect skin grafts, I walked the London Marathon in 4 1⁄2 hours 90 days later and was back at work in 100 days ... achieved by fitness (aided by Nutrilite vitamin and mineral supplements), a positive mental attitude, and NHS excellence. More recently I was knocked over by a dog which meant intensive treatment on my left leg four days before World Championship 10K race walk in Lyon, where I was 4th M75. Five days later and pressure bandages, Voltarol and freezing sprays helped me get a gold medal in the M70 20K walk team, with individual bronze.
Lacking natural speed it was over the longer distances I really made my mark, walking all the Plymouth marathons (for training) and doing the inaugural one twice in preparation for a 100 mile race. In 1989 I won the National 100 mile championship at a rainy Hendon in 18:11:08, having in 1985 at Colchester set a British track 100km record of 9:41:54 which still stands and put me in the Guinness Book of records.
I eventually became the oldest GB athletic debutant, (51yo), registering 23:50:51 for 200km in a France international match and being 2nd Brit home for 6th overall a year later with 23:14:28. My “Dartmoor Discovery” races were tough but enjoyable.
To “fly the flag” for race walking I entered Foster’s inaugural “Quadrathon “ race in 1983, starting my training by swimming around the Hoe prior to walking the Plymouth Marathon then cycling for a couple of hours. 2 months later my 2.4 mile swim off Brighton beach took 59:45:32,a 32 mile walk in 5:14:15,12 mile cycle 5:46:21 and then the marathon walked in 4:19:10 to arrive in Gravesend 16 hours 53min and 4 seconds after the gun was fired. 3rd out of 87 starters and the oldest finisher proved my point that race walkers deserve respect as athletes!
5K (T) 22:43;
10K (T) 46:50;
10miles (R) 1:14:07;
20K (T) 1:35:28, (R) 1:35:12;
30K (R) 2:28:27;
35K (R) 2:58:04;
50K (R) 4:28:06;
100K (T) 9:41:54, (R) 10:01:21;
100miles (T) 18:38:58, (R)18:11:08;
200K (R) 23:14:28; 24 hrs (T) 202.5km, (R)
28hrs: 208km (R)
239.8km (British best);
Plymouth to Dawlish 6:24:53;
Parish Walk (IOM) 85miles 17:51:08 for 17th place in 2009, becoming the oldest ever finisher in 2015, for 76th out of 175 in 20:53:54. All achieved on weekly training mileage of under 100km due to work!
Countries visited: America, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Eire, Finland, France, Germany, Guernsey, Holland, Hungary, Isle of Man, Italy, Latvia,
I supported (Chris) Maddocks in 3 Olympic cities (Atlanta, Barcelona, Sydney) and 3 Commonwealth Games cities (Edinburgh, Auckland, Victoria).
My favourite race is Church to Church 19.4 miles in Guernsey which I have won 3 times, best time 2:40:58 aged 50 y/o (in top ten all comers) with all age group records from 45 to 74 y/o.
Total races - estimated on a basis of 2 a month average for 43 years would be in excess of 1,000.
Place medals plus team medals must exceed 500! I don’t count marathons, half marathon, finishing medals in that total! But I am proud of other medals for finishing a full Ironman in 15 hours 45 mins (2nd M65 in age group) and three from 3 Commandos’ Chara challenge Dartmoor races, 6th, 9th and scraped in after a route mistake.
Essex Walker Issue No 367: December 2015/January 2016