Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
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Herts/Middx Vets Championships (March 2017)

Berkeley Fields, Greenford, Ealing. 19/2/17

DAVID SULLIVAN (Watford Joggers), who was 40 in December, won his first Championship.
“This was my best ever race. I was very happy with it. I have never won anything like that before.
’I am thrilled.’
‘I have been doing the Sunday cross-country leagues. I came sixth in it.’
‘I thought I would take it easy at the start and, see if I could get in the first 10, as I had never run it before.  I did not quite know how I would fare. Top 10 was an aim then, the top 6... I think I was very nervous. I am better off, saving a little energy and going at the end’
‘I have two kids and, as I left home I told my daughter to cross her fingers!
He added ‘At the moment I do a long run with the club on a Wednesday and get out Saturday or Sunday for a long run and run lunch time on a Friday. I fit it in if I can’
‘In the race to-day I wanted to eventually get to the front so, I could tell my kids I was fine’
Steve Norris, led a large group out of the first field before, Duncan Burbidge took over. At the end of the first of three laps, over the 9k course, it was Michael Ussher (Highgate Harriers) who was in the front but joined by Chris Beecham, Scott Aitken and Mark Cursons. It was not till the third lap O’Sullivan, who had been running conservatively, latched on to the front group. It was with 400 remaining O’Sullivan passed Ussher to win.

O’Sullivan, who came over from Kerry in 1998, is a consulting engineer in building services but remarked he only does about 25 miles a week.
Ussher, who is nearly 54, won the M50 category, said “I did run 4 minutes for 1500 with Derby & County AC. I trained with those guys in the days like Nick Lees and and Chris Woodhouse and, that was when I was 18/19 but then, got three stress fractures and bad knees. For 30 years I did not run at all. In 2012 I had two arthroscopies and after that took it up again. I have been gradually improving still. It is very exciting for me really” He had done Judo, at a high standard, up till he was about 40.
‘That was how I kept fit.’ I am scoring in the 12 in the Met League for Highgate ‘A’ sometimes.

I won the ‘Over 50’ last year in these Championships and, 2 years ago. It is inspiring when you see Ben Reynolds and the track sessions he does, as opposed to the younger guy’s .and the recovery for him... I have to spend loads of time on the roller and do yoga. I have got the motivation but it is the recovery. If you have not recovered from the Tuesday for the Thursday, you do a steady run.”

Over 60 winner was, 61 year old, Dave Desborough by a descent margin. He remembers his best results as a younger man, when he used to run for Verlea n the 80’s and the, ran for Welwyn Garden City, coming 3rd in the Met League, 31st in the Southern and 125 in the ‘National’ at Leeds in 1982 (Out of 1605).

After Richard Bloom of Herts Phoenix, in the over 70’s, was the Middlesex winner Doug Milsom, 77 years old.
Milsom of Hillingdon AC, gave up athletics at 37, because of asthma and, took it up again exactly 20 years later. ‘Ever-Present’ London Marathon runner, Bill O’Conner got round as 2nd Middlesex man. The surprising thing was his leg was strapped up, because a savage dog attacked him recently but, knowing Bill he will still be at the start line for the London again...

John Steed was the first M80 runner at the youthful age of 81.

Charlene Jacobs-Conradie (38) was a very convincing F35 and overall winner in the Women’s race. Living in Harpenden now, she had come to the UK from South Africa in 2015. She had  done no running for 20 years. She started again in 2015. About her young days she said ‘I managed in those days to end up 7th woman over 1500 in South Africa, as she used to be a 1500 runner. She was inspired in England by doing the London Marathon, as she had never done one before and, started training for that.’ She did 3:31 in the 2016 London and will be running it in 2017.’My youngest son started with Luton athletics club. I joined them in August last year and done the Chiltern Leagues. 3rd vet for the season. She is now and on 60 miles a week for the London  which she obviously aims to improve on. She had decided she would join St Albans or Luton but, the people were so lovely at Luton so, we went there.

Pam Whitter was impressive as a W55 winner. She ran 2:4.8 for 800 to come 3rd in the Inter-Counties back in 1983.

Alastair Aitken

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