Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
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John Snowden


by Alastair Aitken

It is not often you recognise someone from pictures in old scrapbooks, from 45 years ago but, that happened to me at Ewell Court on the 23rd of May. The name was JOHN SNOWDEN, who ran in GORDON PIRIE'S epic last international as an amateur at the White City Stadium IN 1961. said Alastair Aitken
   I could not resist interviewing him for Running in London. Now he is 72 years of age and was helping Don Turner out by doing some time keeping at the Surrey Vets. John Snowden  competed for Surrey AC, a club that no longer exists and, is a Life long member of Kingston Poly AC. He also helps officiate at Eastbourne Rovers, as he lives at Eastbourne now.
   I have a picture of him beating Gerry North in the snow at Kingston in a North Surrey League race. It was the year Gerry won the National cross country Championships in 1962.
   The White city roar, around the packed stadium, is a memory many older people have and that happened when Pirie won against the Russians before runing  his lap of honour.
On the 20th of September 1961--The four runners were Naroditskky & Yefimov for the USSR and Pirie and Snowden for GB  
In the race the Brits eventually drew clear and Snowden challenged Pirie in the home straight briefly, before Pirie drew clear to win.
      "The publicity was that I was going to win and let him come past. NOTHING WAS FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH.I gave my all but he was just the man of he day. For his retirement it was the way to go out' said John
   What about today and the excitement of UK athletics does it compare with people like Pirie who had that 'Killer Instinct' taking anybody on at cross-country and from the mile to 10k inclusive?
   " I don't think the same challenge is their available to the individual. I think this comes back to the schooling and education. The disruption of competitive interest in things. The youngsters set off on the wrong foot. It would not appear that they make up the ground that is necessary to get the killer instinct. I am afraid a lot of people used to have that when I was training and racing."

Alastair Aitken

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