Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and


History dictates that in 1966 John Roberts, the South London Harrier, an International cross-country runner, won the first Victoria Park 5 miles road race, on the paths of Victoria Park in East London, on a course just short of 5 miles that stayed the same distance for sometime.
   Eton Manor's Malcolm Absolom won the event, a record  three times as did Eamonn Martin of Basildon AC. Eamonn coaches this year's winner on the 6th of April, by the name of Adam Hickey from Southend AC.
Martin took over the coaching of the winner from that 'Greatly Loved' athletic international, the Late Mel Batty.
   EAMONN MARTIN was this year's honoured guest at the Victoria Park clubhouse and, talked to me about the event.
       "My memory as what year I won is actually blurred. The first time I won it was a tough race. I remember thinking it would be a good race to win and that was what really happened for me. When I came back here the last time I won it, I was going for the course record, which I got and it was subsequently broken many years later by Rob Denmark. My time was 22:36 and the second fastest to Rob's 22:31. The course was then altered to the correct distance. It had been slightly short of 5 miles then'
He added:- ' It is a great course to run. My memory is that it is such a flat  course. If you get good weather. That has happened right amongst all the bad weather this year, it was a good day for running 5 miles.'
    I pointed out that as a schoolboy Eamonn was very good but then he had a dip in his career coming fifth in this race. It was just before that race I was introduced to him by a Basildon AC training friend Ricky Goad and then Eamonn and I talked many, times since.-
    "I can remember it was a period I was slightly on the decline and had not progressed enough BUT I remember I won here and had a fantastic win in the Rochester 5 in my climb to ' Stardom'  That was a brilliant race as well and now, 5 mile races are not in abundance like they were back then. It is a great distance and there are not that many now so, I think the Victoria Park 5 in the London catchment area is quite an important event. Adam Hickey is running today, whom I coach .It is his last road race before running on the track from now on.'
   'In the Spring you get good races over 10k and there are lots of 10k's  and obviously half marathons with the London marathon coming up but a great event to do is the 5 miles but it is not as popular.
   Something else I said to Eamonn Martin, who won the Commonwealth 10,000m in 1990 and was National Senior Champion over the country, that a lot of people don't remember that he won the Chicago Marathon (2:11:18 -1995) as well as winning the London in 2:10:40. The last British winner!
What did he consider then his best performance if he had to chose one?

       "It was when I ran at Oslo and broke the British record. That was physically my best performance as I beat World class runners like Barrios, Antibo and Kunze and I destroyed them that night (British record of 27:23.06 on 2nd of July 1988 at the Bislet Games).
 'London was in People's faces, a local race but Chicago was good. I still think my Oslo performance was my best single performance."

The Victoria Park race on the 6th of April

First of all Paskar Owor, who won the Richmond half marathon in 1:10 recently, Matt Gunby and Hickey lead but with a lap remaining of the two lap race in the park Hickey led by a stride from Gunby with Owor running on his own in third place. Half way round the second lap Hickey's coach Eamonn gave him instructions. He thought about kicking then but started to kick again a little later on . He usually felt tired three-quarters the way through but that never came about and he felt stronger and broke clear of Gunby with Owor third and Ben Noad, coming through from sixth in the last mile to take fourth to lead Highgate Harriers to team victory
(4 Noad, 14 Henry Dodwell, 15 Peter Downie out of a field of 290 finishers).
First six:- Adam Hickey 23:37; 2 Matt Gunby 23:59; 3 Paskar Owor 24:12; 4 Ben Noad 24:21; 5 James Connor 24.53 6 Ryan Prout 24:57.  Stephen Whiting first 45-49 in 26:17.

"5k's are my main distance this year" (13:59.22 PB Last year)
His cross-country season "Going really well up until December.I came about 8th in the trials at  Liverpool. The main aim was the Inter-Counties but I got Achilles problems in January/February and been training hard since then but I have had to be careful. This is the second 5 mile I have done. The first one was when I was 18 in 25.20 or so.'
   Things are coming along well but you must miss Mel Batty I would think?
     'When I stopped  tri-athlon he was the first one that started helping me out and I owe a lot to Mel to have got me back into my running then came Eamonn so I got PB's all round last year.1500/3000 and 5k."
     You must be really looking forward to the track then?
     "I am back in shape and stronger than I have ever been also Eamonn is one of the best people to ask for advice, because he has been there and done it. I  have still got a long way to go. I am 25 in May."
     When did he first start running
  "When I was 11; I was a swimmer first  and got into running when I was at secondary school and did a bit of tri-athlon. Between 18 and 22 I was up at Loughborough with the British tri-athlon squad and decided to switch back to running after a few incidents in the tri-athlon. Got knocked off the bike a few times so, even though my swimming and running was Ok I decided  to give running a proper go and, I have not ever done just running before . It has always been swimming as well. With Mel I started with just running. I had all sort of aches and pains for a couple of years, when it took my body time to adjust and even my Dad noticed I don't have the cycling calves anymore where they were huge great calves. I look more like a runner now."
   MATT GUNBY who has a best of 29:40 for 10k and had been on the Olympic Tri-athlon  squad pointed out a couple of interesting things.
   In London he works in the bank and will be a Fund Manager in October. He said with the tri-athlon it is so time consuming you really can't have a job to go with it and, when working in the City, now for 10 or 12 hours a day it is difficult to find the time to run so, he gets up to run at 6 in the mornings but he said he hopes to run quite a bit this Summer, particularly before he gets set into his job in the Winter. He also said it is considered now to start work at 24 or 25 quite late in the City these days and harder to get a job at that age..

Alastair Aitken

Back to Reports Index

Back to Archive index