Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and

Nick Rose (June 2016)

Nick Rose was born 30th of December 1951 in Bristol, a town he still loves passionately and, although he has done some coaching in the past, it is running that he has always been well known for. That was from the age of 18, right through into his early 60’s.
He had been winning things like British Championships all through those years. Firstly as a cross country international and even, much, much, later he was a British Veteran Champion in his 40’s and again as a British Masters cross country Champion in his 50’s.

How did it all begin for Nick Rose?
“I always had aspirations of playing for Bristol Rovers. I played a lot of football. One day at school we had, a lot of rain the night before and the grounds man said the pitches are flooded ‘You can’t play football’ so; the teacher said ‘Right, we are out here now. You are all going to run three times outside the football pitches. I finished second and the guy who won it was a member of Bristol AC and so, I never looked back. In a way it was luck. If the heavens had not opened the night before then, I might have played for Bristol Rovers and I might have gone to Wembley. You just don’t know “
In 1971 Nick Rose was 3rd in the National Junior cross country near Norwich (First six 1 Jack Lane (Feltham AC) 31:11; 2 Phil Banning (Borough Road College) 31:45, 3 Nick Rose (Bristol AC) 32:18, 4 Ray Smedley (Birmingham University ) 32:21; 5 Steve Kenyon (Bolton) 32:32 and 6 Peter Adams (AFD) 32:42 -- 851 finished).

It was after that in 1971; Nick Rose won the International (World) junior cross country in San Sebastian, Spain.
“When I won that we won the team award with 3 to score (First 4. 1 Nick Rose (England) 23:12.4; 2 Ray Smedley (England) 23:17.4; 3 John Brown (Scotland) 24:02.0; and 4 Steve Kenyon (England) 24:16.2).
Nick Rose pointed out that Ray Smedley went on to make the Munich Olympics the following year and, also that year ran a phenomenal 1500 time of 3:38.52 but talking about himself, he said “That cross-country was the start of me realising I could do something.”
It was 1963 that the British Milers club was founded and one of the people who stood out as being successful on their books through the years was Nick Rose, expressly in the BMC City Charities Mile Race for the Chubb Trophy” After coming 5th in 1971 in 4:03.4 he was 1st in 1972 in 4:04.5; 1st in 1973 in 3:58.4; All those at Motspur Park. Then again he won the same event at the West London stadium when he came 1st in 1975 in 4:00.0 and again in 1976 he was 1st in 4:01.8.
“Years ago, in our days, we had cinder tracks. The first time I ran inside 4 minutes was on cinders at Motspur Park (July 25th 1973).
In second place was Steve Ovett, as a 17 year old. He ran his first 4 minute mile in 4:00.0 in second place (It was a UK Junior record and UK teenage best). “Back then 4 minutes for a mile was everything and, it was a huge event but now we don’t run the mile very much but, then it was something to achieve especially on cinders.”
Much later on was the Olympic Games of 1980 in Moscow. Nick did not qualify for the final of the 5000m and, was 12th in the Final in 1984 in Los Angeles. This writer says:- To my mind anyone who is selected for an Olympic Games for the UK is special!
      Nick Rose said “Going to the Olympics was disappointing for me.”
However, Nick Rose was a Big Championship medallist on the track, coming 2nd in the Commonwealth Games 5000m in Brisbane, Australia in 1982 in 13:36.97 behind Dave Moorcroft who ran 13:33.0 with Petger Koech of Kenya 3rd in 13:36.95.
Nick Rose has some impressive personal bests 3000/5000/10000-7:40.4/13:15.91/27:31.19. As well as holding the UK record for 2 miles indoors for 24 years.
“I enjoyed racing and have many fond memories of races“

Regarding his exploits on the road. He held the World Half marathon record in 1979 and his personal best for the distance was 1:01:03 and, as a Vet 40 in 1994, he  ran the marathon in 2:21:10 but the thing that gave him the most pleasure road racing was being in Bristol AC team  that broke the National 12 stage road record on the old course in 1980 in 4:00:37; in front of two popular ‘heavy weights’ Tipton Harriers 4:01.51 and Gateshead Harriers 4:3:44.
“It is a different course now but on the team we had included Steve Jones and Tony Staynings but we also had some real down to earth local guys. It just came together on the day. It is a lovely memory “

When he was studying at West Kentucky University in the USA he won the prized NCAA Men’s cross country Championship but there were two other cross countries that stood out much more for Nick Rose.
THE NATIONAL CROSS over 9 miles at Western Park, Leicester in 1980 when 1627 finished (First Six: 1 Nick Rose (Bristol) 45:15; 2 Keith Newton (Sheffield) 45:34; 3 Steve Kenyon (Bolton) 45:37;4  Barry Smith (Thurrock) 45:45; 5 Nick Lees (Derby) 45:51 and 6 Bernie Ford (AFD 45:56.)
“A big memory. Those were the days when everyone ran the National. You wanted to emulate them, whether it was Dave Bedford, Brendan Foster or all those names before that. No one hid from anyone. The ‘National’ was a huge race to win. That was one of my ambitions. I was 3rd in the Junior National before I went to America then, when I came back, for a couple of years; I won the senior National in 1980. The National is not what it used to be.”

The cross country that Nick felt was a great achievement for him was, coming 3rd in the World cross country Championships in 1980.
That was at Longchamps, near Paris, over 12K (1 Craig Virgin (USA) 37:01; 2 Hans Jurgen Orthmann (West Germany) 37:02; 3 Nick Rose (England) 37:05. That time shows how close it was!) England won the team prizes with 100 points.
       “The finishing straight just went on and on. It was a five lap course. I led for 4¾ of those laps then, in the last 800 at Longschamps there was a very long finishing straight of 800. I unfortunately ran out of gas. First of all Orthmann went by then Craig Virgin who came up and passed Orthmann. I ended up third‘
‘To lead the whole way and give it my all stands out “

When he was 40 he beat, what was considered at the time the best UK M40 distance runner around Nigel Gates, to win the 5k road race at Wells and then later Nick Rose won the British Masters ‘Over 50’ cross country Championship at Mansfield.
  “That shows the love I have for running. If I did not love it I would not be doing it. If it was a chore I would have finished long ago. I still embrace running and that is why I still do it. You get the urge to want to go out and race occasionally, I get that, BUT I am just happy to be able to run. Many of my contempories I talk to can’t run, Eamonn Martin has both his knees shot. Brendan still runs (slowly) but I still run quickly.’
‘I am very lucky. I get my state pension in December this year as I will be 65 then and yet, I still get up have a cup of coffee and go out running five days a week.’
I said, I am 76 and still go out and run but fairly slowly for 2 miles about three times a week. I know Harry Tempan well, who was a veteran champion, fairly recently, after being a club runner and he told me that he goes out running still and he is 91.
“Even though you say you go out running slowly, that does not matter; I would like to still be able to go out running when I am 76.
Once you stop running you fall apart. You have got to keep going”

Alastair Aitken

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