Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and


STUART MAJOR, now running back with South London Harriers again, as he is coaching at their new track, won his third Surrey Vets cross country title, in four years, at Petersham, on the 14th of October.
In good weather, at the half distance, Major had a 30 metre lead over Ben Paviour, who ran a  Herne Hill Vets 3000m record of 8:44.6, in the Summer. In third place was Brian Thursby-Pelham and fourth was first M50 runner Mike Boyle. That was the order to the finish.
Mickey Boyle, "I was quite pleased with 4th overall."
What did Mike Boyle consider an outstanding performance for him?
  "Several. Running Under 31 minutes on the road at 40. Winning the Surrey Vets cross country by a wide margin (2001) and still doing well at 50 so, I have had a good 10 years as a vet. I have had two careers. One just before being a vet. I was 2nd in the World vets 10,000 in Riccione". (In the M45 Final on the 8/9/07- 32:54.79)
In the M60's John Quaintance led for a mile before Chris Owens (61) took over the lead - (Owens started running in 1975. In 1997 he ran 2:35 for the London). Owens said afterwards "That rounds off a good season for me winning the M60 in the Surrey Vets and having  won the Over 60 title in the World Triathlon in Hyde Park"
   In the women's race, Becky McNicholas (39), who is also a tri-athlete, overtook the early leader Diana Norman, half way through the first of the 2 laps and then proceeded to win comfortably, improving on her fifth overall in the race last year. Once a Surrey cross country Champion she said "My children, who are 4 and 6 are now at school which gives me more time to focus on my training."
   Always outstanding through the age groups was Jane Davies, of Epsom & Ewell, who actually had won the event outright in her 40's and early 50's. She won the Over 65's and was ahead of all the W60's. "I love running cross-country and tomorrow I am going to run 16 miles with my friends."
You did quite a few races on the track this year in one day, in the Southern Veterans Cub Finals at Ashford and of course Epsom women won?
   "I have done more 7 or 8 before in that. It is running I love but I don't like track. I just do it because there are not many 60 year olds in my club who will run; so I turn up to do it. It is the camaraderie but I am not a track runner. I like to run on a Sunday with my friends, have a chat, a cup of tea with them. I run in the morning when it is fresh and nice. That is what I like. I do like competition but I love running not going round and round a track. That does not appeal to me"
  The oldest man in the race was not last and his name Alan Lane. He was born 1st of July 1934, so 80 next year and he was 2nd over 75 in the race.
    "I only started running in 1984. I have run quite a few under 3½ hours including the Snowden 'I have done all sorts of distances.'
'I initially took up running in my 50's. My boss a chief engineer had a secretary. She used to run at lunch times in Hyde Park with one of the other chaps there and, he became ill 'Could you run with me!' she said, and that was how it started. Then I got posted up to Lancashire and I was working at BNFL and we had flexible times clocking in and there was a number of us there that ran so I joined lunch time as and when I came back from there, I thought I have got to keep fit .I can't let it go so, I have kept on ever since. I will be 80 next year on the 1st of July. I did cycling when I was young, time trials, a small bit of mass starts, closed circuit work in those days, a couple of 24 hours and a few 100 miles. I then got married, had a family then you stop. So, running was something I fell into. Why Not!"              

Mike Peace finished 59th out of 171 in the mixed age race at Petersham and, was 12th Over 60 (He is 64) but really his life is far more interesting in its entirety. Peace has done EVERY single London Marathon for 34 years now! His fastest London was 2:38.23 in 1991 and his slowest 3:57:27 as a 57 year old in 2007 yet in 2013 he ran 3:34:01, quite remarkable because these days it would put him well up the huge field!
   "I got on quite badly to-day, as I am not fit and found the hills a little bit of a struggle, I am carrying too many niggles.
You have always loved running?
   "From 0 upwards!'
When did you start?
   "I was doing athletics well, County standard in my teens and, also playing a lot of football at the time.
I moved schools for my 'A' Levels.
My Father changed jobs. I had a place at Loughborough and my gym coach and general athletic coach was a Loughborough graduate. There was no favouritism but I had an inside track - He could tell them what I could do in great detail. He virtually said You will get into Loughborough. When we moved , there were all sorts of study problems because I was doing a different course, so I took a year out. So, that takes you out of all school competitions in everything. When I went back to school I was a bit of a revelation, coming second to the local Champion in the Schools Championships and, by that time I was playing football regularly. I played that for nearly 20 years. It was for a local club near Maidstone called Oakwood Park. We had connections with Tonbridge. When I moved up to Surrey I played for a Sunday team in Esher and, for Fun teams Saturday and midweek. I was invited to go and train by Bill Dodgin at Brentford and I was also invited to Kingsonian's but I was into career then in Education. I have just retired from 27 years doing that.'
  'I entered London 1981. I read  Brasher & Hanscombe's articles in the 'Observer' I always promised myself - Just one running Mountain- The marathon, because I had always been a runner. I entered 1981 at the age of 31. I was lucky with the ballot. I had such good fun. I loved it that, I said to my football club the week before, I can't play football I am going for a training run so, that was it really. I ran 3:11 for that one and did the Isle of Wight six weeks later in 3:08 (Inside 3:10) , a silver medal performance, then, New York 2:52.
'I was getting into the London because we Ranelagh Harriers were one of the organising clubs, helping with everything. After 1981, I qualified for 20 years for the AAA Championship. Then the next year I had a complaint and was told to have a year off running. I was allowed to cycle and swim carefully but told to stop running for a year. Basically I had ten months off and, I had already booked to go to South Africa for the Two Oceans. I thought I will just run the half then do the London the next week. I stood in the queue with Chris Owens. He was thinking of doing the half - The full distance was 35 miles. I ran 35 miles. I flew back the next day and ran the London the following Sunday 35 + 26. I have not recovered from that" he said smiling - It just goes to prove that we are completely insane!!"

Alastair Aitken

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