From the Archives
Your stories...English hospitality
Ole Steen's account of his visits to England.....
I have completed three Centurion ”100 miles” in England – Leicester (1976), Bristol (1977) and Ewhurst (1979). Especially the first 2 is clear in my mind – it was a match of Centurion and hospitality for the lone Dane. In 1976.
I travelled by myself from Denmark by train and ferry to Leicester and I arrived the day before the start and I got picked up at the Rail Station by the Speight family. They lived 19th Parkway, Humberstone. After the long journey, I had a meal and went to bed early. Harry woke me up in the morning and Ms. Speight made a large complete breakfast table with lots of homemade jelly and tea. Harry advised me to eat a lot of jelly before the start, but he was also helping along the route and as I was by myself, he would help me with water and jelly. I didn’t know jelly – a sweet pink substance – but Harry told me it was good and that I would become a new Centurion.
Before Harry and I went to the start line, I got an extra round of jelly, toast and some tea.
After changing clothes and the start in Leicester, it was about 2 hours when Harry came to me with water, jelly and bananas the first time. He did this continuously through the race. When I arrived at the finish line in Skegnees, Harry was the first to congratulate me. I was also told, I was the first from Scandinavia, who completed a Centurion.
I have never forgotten the Speight family and the help they gave me. I had never tried jelly before, but I completed my first Centurion as number 594, with assistance from Harry and his wife's homemade jelly.
1977 – Winterbourne, Bristol. By train from London to Bristol and then by bus to Hambrook Grove Guest House. Here I stayed with Mr. and Ms. Vickery.
Bristol 100 mile in the middle of October, was a 10 lap an icy cold race, but we had to start in t-shirts and shorts. I do however recall, that in the night the temperature dropped to 4-5 degree Celsius and it was very foggy. Visibility was only 5-10 meters, so you had to follow the white lines on the middle of the road. A lot dropped due to the cold weather and in the middle of the night, the officials allowed that we could put on a sweat shirt for some hours. I completed the Centurion once more.
After the finish of the race, completely cold and stiff, I went back to Hambrook Grove Guest House. This was placed a few miles from the finish line. Immediately when Ms. Vickery saw me, I got a beer in the bar. She went then to the bathroom on the first floor and filled the tub with hot water and soap. She called me to go to the bathroom and she helped me to get undressed and assisted me into the tub. A few minutes later, she came with a cup of tea and after about 30 minutes I got dried in some warm towels and she helped me. After this I was helped to bed (with pre-heated blankets) in my room and I got a cup of tea and some sandwiches. Short after it was good night and I was fully rested the next morning. After the breakfast with the family, we took our goodbyes and I went back to London.
Two remarkable host families who gave me some unforgettable “Centurion” days in England.
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