Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and


Chris Finill & Steve Pope started their 3000 mile run in Mid August 2011at Half Moon Bay, San Francisco and completed it at Coney Island, New York in early November. Fortunately it was something greatly encouraged by Julia Finill, Chris's wife. Both Chris Finill and Steve Pope ran the New York Marathon in 3:36, the very next day after running into the sea at Coney Bay right at the end of their lengthy travels.. (Finill remarked afterwards to someone that it was the only marathon of ' 60' he had done outside of 3 hours!)
   Finill is already, an 'Over 50 ' Veteran Master runner', who was born on the 31/12/58 and had run 243.36 miles in a 24 hour race. It was in 1985 he ran his fastest marathon in the London of 2:28.27.
   I did this short interview with Chris, just after he had come 45th of 155 in the Middlesex cross country Championships, over the Wormwood Scrubs course. He scored in Harrow's team that achieved silver medals behind the winners Highgate Harriers.
   What were Chris Finill's outstanding memories of the run across America?
   Was it the challenge of doing it?
Incidentally with Steve Pope they raised money for 'Help The Heroes' Charity.

   Chris Finill:- " It was because I read a book called ' Meditations from the Breakdown Lane' by Jim Shapiro. He ran across America in 1980 and wrote a book about it. I read the book and was completely inspired by it'
   'One of the memories of the trip was running into the Atlantic at the end of the run and Jim Shapiro was there on the beach. He was absolutely thrilled to be there to witness us finishing and we were absolutely thrilled as he had been  the inspiration behind the run.... It was very kind of 'circular feel' for the whole thing"
   When they had done all that they ran the next day in the New York Marathon which, to most was a challenge in itself
   " We finished on the Saturday at 6'o'clock in the evening then we did the New York the following morning.
    ' It was funny; everyone thinks you did a marathon, after running across America!!?
     'But the marathon was a day off basically. We were running 40 miles a day so running a marathon, even in a race situation was quite straight forward really. We just liked the idea of doing it."
   In my 19 'Ever Present' London Marathons, before I had a bad accident three days before the 20th, Mickey Peel of Blackheath Harriers 'Still and Ever Present' used to come past me, sometimes even three-quarters into the race and say 'How you going' He was looking quite fresh and I would by then be often suffering a bit. He was bright as a button but of course, that was because he did the London to Brighton 55---56 miles road races a couple of times, which made the marathon a fairly easy taks for him in those days!
 CF:-  " I don't think the marathon is a big deal at all for me now "
Early in your run across America you did actually get injured?
    " It was a suspected stress fracture--If it had been a stress fracture I would have had to have stopped. There would not have been a question of carrying on at all. If I had, it would have been a career threatening injury which would be very serious indeed'
   ' The Physio I was speaking to back in England said  ' If you can walk on it then walk on it and so, I walked on it for six days and it slowly started to get better. After it got better I then had a problem with my right knee for 300 miles in Colorado. Once we came off the Rockies everything was fine again and was for the next 18,000 to 2,000 miles'
'  I  ran  completely injury free for 2000 miles BUT up until the Rockies it was pretty Rocky!'
 Was there anytime that Chris said to himself 'Gosh' that is the most beautiful area?
 " The descent through Nevada was spectacular for it desolation. The temperatures at 120F in August--That was spectacularly difficult and threatening. The Route 14 through Steamboat Springs out towards Fort Collins. Through Colorado was absolutely breathtaking--Rocky Mountains- we were running  through spectacular gorges, forests on either side, mountains, streams--Just out of this World really beautiful.'
   You said in a way you could have done it faster and, therefore been in the record books, if you also had a certain type of back up?
   `    " Instead of having a car that took us to a motel each day, for where ever we chose to stop running, we could have chosen to have a vehicle following us all the time and just climbed in to the vehicle and slept right by the road side which would have cut down all the travelling between runs and sleeping. It would have made it a much faster  journey across."
   One time you did run off course too?
" We did not make any navigational errors. As we were going through Nebraska we realised the bridge we were relying upon to cross into Iowa would have been washed away and so, we had to change course to a different bridge. That meant we had to run an extra 40 miles which when you are tired and fraught does not go down very well but that was the way it was. There had been flooding in the Dakotas which had washed a lot of water down through Nebraska and taken some of the bridges.We did not realise  this till we were 100 miles away from the bridge that was not there.. We had to suddenly via northwards so we took a totally different route for 800 miles as a consequence of that.
   Did it put a lot of distance on for then?
" About 40 miles but it is not the end of the World. It is an extra days running and there was no two ways about it."
   You are one of the 'Ever Present' London Marathon runners. One of the last 18 that are left doing them and, you appear to try and keep up a standard of running well since it began in 1981?
" I am hoping to break 3 hours again this year as sub 3 is not a fast time. I am quite proud of the fact I have done that 31 times in a row. That is going to be a goal next time round and I will try and keep up the streak as long as I possibly can."    

Alastair Aitken

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