Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and

Jim Alder MBE (March 2015)

ALDER is not recognised just, as a Commonwealth & European Games Medallist but a well loved runner and coach/adviser to many, including Mark Hudspith of his Morpeth Harriers club, who was third in the Commonwealth Marathon of 1994 and Neil Black the UKA Performance Director of 2015.
Nicholas Swinburn, a 26 year old Morpeth Harrier, who was third in the Senior National cross country Championships of 2015 remarked, after receiving his medal
“I am inspired by Jimmy Alder. He is always about. He adds inspiration and humour” I will add to that by saying, I always found him a forthright and honest person since I first spoke to him in the 1960’s.

James Noel Carroll ‘Jim’ Alder had a tough start in life. His Mother died of tuberculosis and his Father was killed on the last day of the World War Two so, he was a foster child.
When he left Glasgow and came down to live at Morpeth in 1949, he was inspired by seeing the Morpeth to Newcastle race.
Jim comes in “I always liked running as a youngster. Till I was 15 I preferred football. I loved football but I realised I was just a local footballer like hundreds and thousands of others.’
He continued ‘I realised if, I had been introduced to regular training at 12 or 13 I would have walked away from football’
      Regarding his early years as a runner ‘I always liked running and quite good but I could not make the County team so I never ran the English Schools, as I could not get into the county team for Northumberland and Durham.
Suddenly at 16/17 I started to get better and won a couple of races. The biggest improvement was 16-19”


“I started to move away and I realised I am going for it!
‘I want to win the Scottish National (He did that in 1962). To win the Morpeth to Newcastle, the oldest road race in the UK; build my home (He was a brick layer) and start my own business. I had those four ambitions at 18 and achieved the lot but I never dreamt I would win a Gold medal at a ‘Big’ Games.’
It was 1962 that he won the Inter-Counties 20 mile road race in1:45.16 (He did run even faster in 1964 a World record race, going through in 1hr 40min 58.0sec).’

Jim Alder represented Scotland in the International (Now World) cross country Championships. It was 10 years later in 1972 he was 20th in the International at Cambridge.
In the English National cross country Championship of 1969 at Parliament Hill, won by Mike Tagg, he was 13th but ahead of such respected runners as Allan Rushmer, Ron Hill and Bob Holt and so it goes on.
         In 1964 he got injured, just before the Olympics in Tokyo, which appeared to dash his chances of being selected but that did not put off the hardy Northerner. As it is recorded in 2015 the World Record for running 2 hours non-stop in Peter Mathews & Mel Watman’s International Athletics Annual of 2015 states “World Best for running 2 hours on the track by JIM ALDER covering 37.994km at Walton on Thames on the 17th off October 1964.
       “That was my biggest one in my formative years, the World record at Walton on Thames. I was non-travelling reserve with Bill Adcocks for Tokyo. In Walton on Thames I ran in Dunlop sand shoes on an ash track, when the World record for the marathon was 2:13.45. “You work it out!’ Said Jim and continued ‘I am not saying I would have won a medal at Tokyo but I was in the best form of my life, World class form at the right time in the wrong place.”


British Empire & Commonwealth Games 11th of August 1966.
The first Three runners 1 James Alder (Scotland) 2:22:07.0; 2 William Adcocks (England) 2:22:13.0; 3 Mike Ryan (New Zealand) 2:27:59.0;

Jim Alder led for the 8 miles, before entering the Stadium, then was misdirected so, he had to make up 50 yards as Bill Adcocks had gone the correct way and had taken the lead. Jim caught Adcocks and overtook him just before the finish. Jim Alder also obtained a bronze medal previously, on the 6th of August in the 6 miles track Championships 1. Naftali Temu (Kenya) 27:14.6 (Commonwealth Record); 2 Ron Clarke (Australia) 27:39.4; 3 Jim Alder (Scotland) 28:15.4 and they were followed in by Ron Hill, Dave Ellis and Fergus Murray.

European Games in the hot weather, finishing in the historic old Olympic Stadium, on the 21st of September
1 Ron Hill (GB) 2:16:47.8; 2 Gaston Roelants (Belgium) 2:17.22.2; 3 Jim Alder (GB) 2:19.05.8; 4 Jurgen Busch (East Germany) 2:19.34.4; 5 Ismail Akcay (Turkey) 2:22.16.8; 6 Denes Simon (Hungary) 2:22.58.8.
        In the race “I went from 9th to 2nd and took Ronnie at 17 to 18 miles. I thought I am going to win this for my daughter. I had a cable from Kathleen in the camp that she was just born, a fortnight early and it was a breech birth.‘
Then, with 3 miles to go Ronnie (Hill) came past me like a train. He caught Roelants in the final mile. I was holding off Jurgen Busch for 3rd spot!”

Edinburgh Commonwealth Games marathon 23rd of July 1970
First six:- 1 Ron Hill (England) 2:09.28; 2 Jim Alder (Scotland) 2:12.04; 3 Don Faircloth (England) 2:12.09; 4 Jack Foster (New Zealand) 2:14.46; 5 John Stephen (Tanzania) 2:15.05; 6 Bill Adcocks (England) 2:15.10
Some strong words before the race, according to Jim was said by the Australian, Derek Clayton, who had broken the World record twice (But dropped out in the race in Edinburgh). He said Alder is only good when the conditions are bad. The British runners are no good, as they can’t handle a fast pace. However, my 10k time was half a minute faster than Clayton’s.”
        At 5 miles the times at the front of the field were Drayton 23:31; Clayton 23:31; Ndoo 23:31; Hill 23:31 then Harnek Sigh of India 23:57 Stephen 24:07; Alder 24:09; Adcocks 24:09; Faircloth 24:10 and Foster 24.10. “I looked at Billy and said ‘God what have they done!’
At 8 miles Hill broke Clayton and Jerome Drayton of Canada. At the time they were running either side of him.”
At 10 miles the first 8 were Hill 47:45; Drayton 47:50; Ndoo 47:55; Alder 48:40; Adcocks 48:40, Stephen 48:40; Faircloth 48:45 and Clayton 48:49.
The first four at 15 miles was Hill 1:12:18, Drayton 1:13:17; Alder and Stephen on 1:13.27. At 20 Miles it was Hill 1:37:32 and Alder 1:38.51. Then at 25 miles it was Hill 2:03:10; Alder 2:05:10 and Faircloth 2:05:30..


“When I was running 120 miles a week I could regularly run a 2 minute half mile when I wanted to. UK’s distance runners now are not rounded enough. They should do 800’s and 1500’s. Perhaps we over trained a little bit but now they under train.”

About running and training Jim said “I would train 4 miles in the morning 8 miles in the afternoon and then do a race at 3.30. A lot of times it was a means to an end. The only races I eased off for were the ‘Big Ones’. I only failed at one big day and that was in Mexico 1968.’
‘If I was doing 120/140 miles a week I would do a 2 minutes 800 after running 13 miles. I knew I had a little speed but not a lot.
He did state “Mo Farah should stick to the track I think because of his 1500 being so fast.”

Alastair Aitken

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