Ken Roost C.557
From the Archives .....tales of the Centurions... your stories
Ken Roost C.557
Born and brought up in Parkstone, Dorset, Ken joined the RAF where he served for 27 years. Taking part in sporting events wherever he wa posted, it wasn't until Ken was in Germany 1963-66 where he discovered race walking: "because my team was short of walkers I had a go at it with some success and I actually managed to win a station championship".
After various postings where Ken took part in local race walks, he returned to England at the end of 1971 and eventually became a regular on the walking circuit.
In 1974 Ken left the RAF and settled in Stevenage, where he and Ron Purkis became regular training partners, joined by Bill Pilgrim when they all changed clubs to Verlea AC where Ken became walking secretary.
As a Verlea walker, Ken attempted the 100 in 1975 and in spite of badly blistered feet at thirty miles he plodded on to complete it in 22.03.26 to become Centurion 557.
In 1976 Verlea AC walking section disbanded and in mid 1977 Ken joined Peter Worth and Co at Enfield.
Ken says: "What a great long distance team we had and a tremendous team spirit. It was an exciting time. It's a pleasure to see Ron Powell still performing. The faster I went the faster Peter went. I was determined one day to beat him. In June 1978 I laid my plans. I would start training for the 1979 Ewhurst 100 and my objects were to beat 20hours, to finish in the first ten, to have Peter Worth behind me, to lead Enfield to victory. With the assistance of Ron Purkis and Bill Pilgrim I trained hard for that race. Every race I competed in was a stepping stone to the 100. I planned to complete the first fifty miles in 9hrs 30min(1hr 54m per 10miles) leaving me 10hrs 30m(2hrs 6m per 10miles) for the second 50.
I passed the 10 mile mark in 1hr 43m. I was 11min inside - I had to hold it. I hit 50m in 9hr 29m, 60m in 11hr 29. I was a touch over 6mins ahead of schedule. I got Peter Worth in my sights at 72 miles but could not pass him until 84 miles. As I got to him I looked down at his feet. I could see the blood oozing through his shoes. I knew then it was only guts that was keeping him going. I said to Peter the team would understand if he didn't finish. He said he would finish. I had always had a great respect and admiration for Peter and he was again showing what a great competitor he was. He was a true gentleman as well. I crossed the line in 10th place in 19h 52m 53s. Jack Rossiter followed me over the line in 13th with Peter Worth closing in in 15th to complete a memorable team victory for Enfield. If my memory serves me right the next British team was Leicester down in 5th place. Of my training companions Ron Purkis was in 9th place in 19h 35m 45s but he was walking for Metropolitan WC. Bill Pilgrim retired after 25miles with ankle trouble"
Ken retired from long distance walking in 1980 after completing eight consecutive London – Brighton, the quickest of which was 9.40.08 in 1979. The last four were in Enfield colours.
Ken says: "I've had a wonderful 80 years with many memorable moments from both my working and sporting life and have made many friends. It's a pleasure seeing all the old familiar faces that turn up for the races when I come along to help out. I wonder what the next forty years hold?"
< back to Centurions Archive