Race Report 28/04/20

With all races cancelled or postponed just now, the Club Championship has ground to a halt.  However, Club Coach, Rob Burn, organised a virtual 5 mile race this weekend, to be included in the club championship, with each participant doing 2.5 miles out and back from home.  No fewer than 64 members took part, as well as 2 dozen non-members joining the fun!  The fastest finisher was new member, Andrew Price in 30.33 – sounds like a good acquisition to the club, with Mike Cropper 2nd in 31.30 and Tom Levi 3rd in 31.53.  The fastest lady was Esther Harrison, in 36.28, with Kirsty Naylor 2nd in 38.34, and Clare Tempest 3rd in 40.57.  Well done to all, and to everyone who took part.

Included, of course, was Alan Wikeley, with his wife Margaret.  Alan is the longest serving member in the club, joing shortly after its inception in 1977 by the late and much lamented Norman Smith.  Alan showed early potential in running when, at the age of 3, he won a race at a local garden fete.  From then on, he was hooked and achieved success at primary school, but only really blossomed when he reached senior school.  Under the encouragement of PE teacher, Vic Rawlings, he and many other boys, and girls, went on to improve beyond their imaginings.  Vic told the class that a boy in another class would win the forthcoming cross country race, which spurred Alan’s determination that that would not be the case, rightly so, as Alan went on to win.  He represented the school in track and cross country races, and at the age of 15, went on to win the North Yorkshire Schools half mile in 2 min 9 sec.  The same year he broke the school mile record, which holds to this day, as Alan had a letter to say all races in future would be measured in metres!  His fastest time for a mile was 4 min 20 sec.

After leaving school, he continued to run, but there were not so many races in those days.  Most villages had sports days, and first prize would be 10 shillings.  When you consider wages at that time were about £3 a week, 10 shillings was a goodly sum indeed, and well worth winning, which Alan very often did.  At the age of 21 he got his own dairy farm, and running had to fit in around milking and other farm duties, often at about 9pm.  He also kept horses and was an enthusiastic point to pointer.

On joining Thirsk and Sowerby Harriers at the time running was becoming more popular, there were road races just about every week.  (With “health and safety”, and more traffic, how things have changed.)  The first big local race was a half marathon at Richmond, with 5000 entries!  Alan was disappointed with his time of  1h 30, and decided to up his mileage to about 70 miles a week.  This had the desired effect, and his best time was 1h 17.  He completed the 1986 London Marathon in 2h 57, and with continued hard training, raced regularly and very successfully.  When Alan was 50, disaster struck when he became seriously ill with meningitis.   Slowly and steadily he started running again, with 2 sticks at first, and with sheer determination, he once again entered races.  He was regularly doing 10ks around the 37 minute mark, Barnsley, Darlington and Rainton, to name but a few, but gradually he veered towards fell races, and soon acquired the nickname, “mountain goat”.  The main local fell race series were organised by the late Dave Parry, every 2 weeks or so, and Alan won his age category regularly throughout the years.  He won the V60 Yorkshire Vets Chamionship in 2005, and often did fell races in the Lake District.

The 5th World Masters Mountain Championships was hosted by Keswick in 2005 and several club members attended.  Since then members have travelled to Switzerland, Austria, Poland, Germany and Slovakia and Slovenia, where Alan came away with a Team GB Silver Medal!  Alan continues to run regularly, albeit more slowly, and also enjoys walking in the hills.  He has been a stalwart of the club over all the years, and always welcomes and encourages newer and slower members.  If I were to say he was one of the most popular members of the club, and indeed throughout the district, that would not be an exaggeration.

Alan Wikeley in his Team GB vest at last year’s World Masters Mountain Championships in Puglia, Italy

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