Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and

David Bedford OBE at Night of the PB's Part 1 (May 2017)

Not to forget the last British person to hold the World 10k track record was Dave Bedford (27:30.8), which was done at Crystal Palace in 1973, in the AAA’s Championships

You have been to all five of these 10,000 Night of PB’s. The first one was good then; all the others came off well. Do you think they are improving each year?’
“I think the concept is improving each year. It’s a great event. Look at the number of the people who were here. It shows there still is a massive interest in distance running. For The Elite Men’s and Women’s race, it looks as though we have good weather for that. For the challenge to be selected for the World Championships, they will certainly get cheered on because there are so many people. I think it is a wonderful event and I think we should continue to support it.
London Marathon helps it financially, as you know. Highgate Harriers is the real home for it. Lovely track, which used to be an old black cinder track, now it is a classy modern track. perfect place for it.“

Something magical for club athletes and is still talked about, was the fact that you won the Southern Senior and Junior Championships on the same day at Parliament Hill in 1970 and, we are standing right near where you would have started. That is an interesting and amusing memory for many.
“It was the senior race first of all. I had entered both the junior and the senior race because I was still quite young. I ran the senior race and ran quite well, over the 9 miles.
Three laps through the mud here. I won it. I finished it. I had not really thought about it before hand. Tony Sunderland from Shaftesbury came up and said ‘I have got your number here for the junior race’ I was feeling so good. When you win a race you never feel bad. You lose the race you feel knackered. I felt really good and, the adrenalin was pumping. I said ‘Yes ‘I’ll give it a go’ In the back of my mind I thought, go to the top of the hill for a laugh then just cut out.
I got to the top of the hill and it was hard as, I had stopped racing, and got to back into it. I thought I can’t drop out here, there are too many people so I thought, I’ll go another mile and then drop out. I got to another mile and, all of a sudden I got my racing legs back and I flew round another two laps. 15 miles of racing in the mud that day so, I won the junior as well.
What is interesting of course, it was the impact on the club runners because, from that day onwards; Officials, who thought it was shocking!  Disgusting! ‘Show off’ and everything else changed the order of the events, so that is why now the junior race is always before the senior race because they would not want anyone else to do it again. They thought it was a poor show.”

In the senior race someone who, not long after, became a ‘Great friend of Dave’s to this day, was in that senior race. It was Mike Beevor who made the International senior cross country for England four times. In that Southern Mike stayed with Dave for one lap of the three.
“I was nearing the top of my form, probably one or two years later.
Because I would say I was a 1500m, more based runner, it was easy to begin with in that Southern senior. Dave started running fast so, I went with him then we eased off a bit. This is easy he has had it then, he ran fast again. For 3 miles I kept up with him then, I paid the penalty because I was trying to win. I sacrificed coming 2nd and ended up coming fourth. At that time I think Dave was trying to emulate the African runners. Try to adapt the tactics they used when they would go fast and slow. My dad, who was my best supporter, shouted out to me at the 3 mile mark you can get him and Dave said ‘No he xxxxxx can’t.’  I mentioned that at my Dads funeral,”

Regarding aids and drugs at  World class, it would be rather difficult to ban all people retrospectively because, man or woman will always, if needs be, find the best way of being the best; if it is a helps to put you on an equal terms, in some cases in both the past and the future?
“I am the most anti-drug taking person you will find. I have done every single thing in my power, through my administrative career and, I continue to do so, to try and get our sport in a position where t people don’t consider it. On that point, the only way they will not consider it is if the penalties are draconian that, it makes you think twice. I’ll give you an example; lf Drink driving. where you get a year ban and a £200 fine. If the ban for drink driving was a life time ban and a £20,000 fine no one would even think about it. Everyone understands that so, let us put that into the World of athletics. I think four years is quite a solid period of time now but, it’s taken 30 years to get back to 4 years’ where it started then. It then went down to two years.
4 years is not bad. I prefer life time. Four years I think is good but the real key is when an athlete gets caught, before they are allowed to compete again they have to repay all of the ill gotten gains from their ban. Prize money, appearance money, time bonus, money to shoe companies etc .Sensibly I know in that situation that most people would just retire but having them retired they have got a choice then. They spend the rest of their life being known as cheats or if they want to come back they have to pay the ultimate penalty of repaying. I think when you have that, when it supported by a testing programme that has a significant higher certainty of finding people are cheating than now. Now is quite good, we are picking people up from 2004, 2008 and 2012.
Those people’s lives are being put in absolute in devastating states. Everyone is looking at them and they have got to spend the rest of their life as being known as a cheat,that is a horrible thing to have to carry with you. Those things together will help us to win the battle. If we don’t win the battle athletics is dead.”

“I was watching the European cross country last year and the year before. You had two people who were not from the countries they were originally from, well out in the front. You are watching the whole race and think what am I watching?
“That also has to be resolved and as you know Seb Coe is here tonight and I think the IAAF
do understand that position does not help international sport. If you do nothing about it, every country will be represented by people who used to run for Kenya or for Ethiopia. That is no good for international sport but I believe the IAAF are working on that and will come up with radical views to make sure that can’t continue in the future.”

“Your love of athletics is strong with the London Marathon.
“I am now working part time because. I am moving into a slightly elder stage of my life and ,continue to put the elite fields together. I continue to interact on behalf of London Marathon internationally, representing not only the marathons interests but also the interests of integrity and fair play in sport. I am happy doing that.”

It is important to you the people like Mike Beevor are still important to you still as friends, right from when you were competing.”
“In life you have to remember, who you were and came from and people on the way that helped you with that journey. That is what life is about”

Alastair Aitken

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