Alastair Aitken
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John Hall - Race Walker

JOHN HALL
by Alastair Aitken

UPDATE - 10th May 2009 John Hall won the Middlsex 3k Walk Championships at Hendon outright yesterday at the age of 60!

JOHN HALL is remarkable in that at 60 years of age he is able to combine race walking at a high level with much administration work in the sport writes Alastair Aitken. He is the current President of Belgrave Harriers, that he has been a member of for 38 years and a past President of Middlesex County athletics Association, as well as doing several Admin jobs with the Civil Service Athletics. Yet on the 24th of April this year, he was fifth overall in the National 50k at Stockton on Tees in 5:39:22 and broke the British M60 record for 3k in the British Masters Indoor Championships with a time of 14:45.25. The latter was on the 8th of March at Lee Valley and then, went on to gain two Gold medals in the European Veterans Games at Ancona, Italy. (3k indoors in 14:58.46 and 5k outdoors in 25:48 in late March). He was also the winner of the M55 British Masters 3k at Birmingham last year in 14:59.23 by well over three minutes.
 Two of his fastest times on record were 45:58.0 for 10k in 1976 and 12:53.28 for 3k in 1982. He competed for Great Britain in the Van Damme Meeting as an international.
           "That Van Damme meeting was thirty years ago this year. I was overtaken by a Belgian coming into the stadium so did not get on the podium but that was quite an exciting experience, as it was my only British vest!'
About his two European Veteran Titles this year at Ancona he explained:-
   ' It was a lovely stadium, better facilities than you very often get for indoor meetings in Europe. You actually had somewhere where you could warm up inside. Somewhere you could move up and down in the reporting area. If you are trapped and unable to do anything, it is very frustrating and you don't know what is going to happen till you get onto the track.'
   He continued ' In the 3k indoors I thought there would probably be someone who would go off fast and set it up but in fact I was in front immediately. The Frenchman came passed me and stayed in front of me for a lap, It was a perfect pace for me but I knew I had to move on. With walking you can't afford to leave it till the end as, somebody could actually dodge passed you. You have got to go out and do it so, I pushed for the second lap and went out the front and eventually dropped them, I don't know when I dropped them because there is such a noise in the Stadium. For the 5k outdoors it was a completely mad start. By the time we got to the road, after 300m on the track I was back in sixth place. I could see the others in front of me and worked to get up to them, just sort of held it for a bit, then drifted ahead. Once you are in front you have to got to push it. I was in front from about 2k, felt strong and kept going'
   I pointed out to John Hall that I had been well up in a couple of City of London Charity walks but running was my thing but noticed that Roger Mills, Paul Nihill, and Ian Richards were near me in road running events and all became or were international race walkers at the time. Did he feel more club runners could do well as race walkers?
   ' Really more ought to try it. It tends to be injury that brings people across to walking. They think, OK this is alright. I can make progress. Nick Silvester of Aldershot and Trevor Jones of Hillingdon are two examples.'
   He pointed out that they had  to learn the style so they did not get disqualified, learn the trade and put in the training, then they got the rewards.
   John Hall came back from being in South Africa in 1971 where he lived from the age of 3 to 22 soon got involved with the Civil Service athletics
   'At the works sports for Ministry of Agriculture I won the walk so comfortably I thought the next year I would have a run and came second in the 1500. That happened for a couple of years. In my 23rd Sports Day I managed to win the 1500, as well at the 3000 one year, and picked up a few Civil service running medals. That were usually 'Vets' or in team events. I even managed to run a sub 3 hour marathon when I was doing a little bit of running as well as walking. Walking was the thing as I knew I was not as good at running as I was walking!
   I must point out John Hall also manages the women's team for the Civil Service and looks after the walking side of things for Middlesex.

Alastair Aitken

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