Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
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Graham Taylor (November 2015)

Graham Taylor, born 4th of May 1945, was the second man over 70 years of age, in the Surrey Veterans Cross Country Championships. That was run at Richmond Park on October 17th 2015.
Very few runners, who still compete, were National Champions in their younger days!
Taylor won the AAA’s Marathon ‘Poly’ on the 11th of June, 1966 (in 2:19.04), after sprinting away from Jim Hogan, just after they had entered the stadium together. Hogan went on to be European Champion later that year.
Other ‘Great’ runners who finished behind Taylor that day, included Ron Hill, Billie Adcocks, Jim Alder and Brian Killby. 81 of 246 starters dropped out in the sweltering conditions. Graham had won the Inter-Counties 20 in 1:39.08 which was the second fastest time done for the Inter-Counties but considers another ‘20’ as his defining moment “It was the Wimbledon 20 miles road race in 1966, when he won in an all time course record for the Belgrave 20 in 1966.
       “It was not the race. It was the performance sort of thing. It was a tough course round Wimbledon, up the hills.”
I noticed how he still enjoys racing at 70, with the challenges it still gives him with his Dorking & Mole Valley club. His answer to that “You can question the enjoyment. It is blinking hard these days.” A typical honest answer from Graham Taylor.
When he was at his best, he belonged to Cambridge Harriers and, did a fair amount of mileage. That included running to a race and then running home afterwards “I used to do about 100 miles a week. If they did that these days they would probably be very successful.’
‘I am honestly mystified that we have not got a load more runners. I look at myself and think I am just an ordinary bloke, sort of thing.’
‘I looked at some old AW’s. It is 50 years now since I was running so many of my best times. Then I was running 48 minutes for 10 miles and 1:39 for 20. I don’t think I was anything special. A lot of guys were running similar times. They would not be considered special, like a lot of the guys nowadays.’
He did add ‘However the Africans are really talented more than we were.’
‘The fact that there were a lot of us doing similar times was because of the consistent training. We did not have these shoes in those days, very thin Puma things, soles were very thin. Not like nowadays padded and that, no wonder we had injuries. Another problem was we did not get the medical back up then.”
Which athletes stood out to his mind? “I did not think about that at the time. Obviously Ron Hill stood out and Jim Hogan.”

Alastair Aitken

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