Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
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Tim Hutchings ‘At the Time’ (March 2019)

(Born in London, 4th of December 1958, Educated at Worth School in Sussex.)
It was in Sussex he also organised and founded the Brighton Marathon but, these days his skills as a professional and skilful commentator for Euro Sport television, has given him World wide recognition.
I interviewed Tim three times. August 1982 for Athletics Weekly; August 1983 again in Athletics Weekly (Editor Mel Watman) and did a two part interview in Marathon & Distance runner 1986. (Editor Geoff Harrold)

I thought it would be interesting to recall a little of what Tim Hutchings thought about in those days when he was a’Star’International athlete.
The comment I made at the beginning of the Marathon and Distance article in 1968 was ‘Tim and I knew each other, in a way, through a mutual school friend of his.
We first met, when Tim was in Loughborough Universities’ winning, 31st Imperial Colleges Hyde Park road relay team. In those days it was virtually an unofficial European Colleges Road Relay Championship and, because of the many good internationals that had run in it. I am sure George Gandy would remember the 24th of February, 1979 (Seb Coe ran leg 3; Tim Hutchings leg 5 and Malcolm Prince Leg 6.Those wee the 3 fastest on the team. That day John Davies of TVH & West London Institute did a lap record of 13:17).
I wrote the report up in AW.                

Regarding my article on Tim in Marathon & Distance Runner, I started the article by saying I immediately found Tim an engaging and well spoken when ever he talked.

Frank Horwill, a Founder member of the British Miler club coached Tim.
He was a controversial character who had very definite views and was quite outspoken at times but should be respected. Tim comes in here

“Frank’s’ articles and training schedules are taken too literally by people. I think Frank assumes too much intelligence on the part of the reader, he assumes people will put the schedules that have appeared in magazines and, just think to them “That is ridiculous and too hard! “
But for a start, Frank believes in progression and building up to a schedule – to any session...
The severe session you may see in a magazine may be a target, not necessarily what he expects you to go out and do but he does believe that people are capable of doing it, if they are fit and correctly prepared. For example, last summer when I was running very badly and there was something wrong with me, I was trying to do Franks’ sessions and it was not working. I was suffering and it was probably digging me deeper in a rut but had I been correctly prepared and healthy it would have benefited me and I would have run well off it, everybody had bad periods in their running but you don’t automatically point to the coach. Frank is very much misunderstood, people are too keen to criticise him without really knowing the man or being able to read between the lines of his articles.”

It is fashionable these days (Said in 1986) to extol the virtues of running say, four hours for the marathon, rather than running four minutes for 1500. Yet, if a man can run as fast as four minutes for 1500, to my mind, he is capable of at least 2:25 to 2:30 for a marathon, if he trains properly for it’
‘I would agree with that. Really what is the point of doing four hours, one could virtually walk a marathon in four hours! With all due respect to the thousands of marathon runners who do run in three, four or five hours, I am sure a fit, healthy person could walk it in four hours, certainly could cover 20 miles in that time.
‘Really this marathon thing has got out of hand. It is very, very good for the public to run and get healthy. Your best method is to exercise for 20 minutes or half an hour a day and make your target a 10 kilometres race. It is a nice round figure and, it means you can have targets of 40 to 35 minutes and what is more, you can do several a year .You don’t just have to do one and spend months recovering from it or get injuries during the race itself.
Getting down to the other extreme, track running is far harder to get right, basically, with both training and competition. Obviously the training is a means to an end. The point that both Peter Coe and Frank have tried to do to make is, that running a four minute 1500 needs a lot more care, preparation and skill than running a four hour marathon.
I think what Peter Coe wanted to do was make the public, through the media; more aware of what is involved in running a four minute 1500... It is hard to put it in perspective because to run 26 miles is impressive. Whereas, if you run 1500 in four minutes they don’t appreciate the pace you are running. Ideally one would like to show them what pace and, how fast you are actually travelling, impress upon them for how fast 15mph is!’

At a time you were running up at Loughborough in those early days, Dave Moorcroft and then Sebastian Coe were starting to run brilliantly but you were often in the wings unable  to compete a lot and yet you seemed to come through eventually.
“That was 1980-81 really. It never crossed my mind to stop running. I knew I had the ability there because I ran a 3:57 mile in 1978* although I did not come near it in 1979, 80 & 81.”
*That race was won by John Robson, from Graham Williamson, Steve Cram & Brendan Foster, with you fifth.
“That was really the race that started this golden period of British middle distance running. A week before that race there were articles appearing in the Press saying, what a woeful state British running was in, compared to the wealth of talent we had  in the 50’s & 60’s Ironically, about a week after, they were writing how fantastic our talent was and about all the  youngsters coming through. It just showed how fickle and insubstantial is some of the stuff you read in the Press. There are very few guys in the press who really have their finger on the pulse of what is going on. I am not talking about the politics or finances of the sport, which now has become so important,’

One could be forgiven for thinking Tim Hutchings was only a good cross country and track runner but, he could be handy on the road. One example was over 8k in the Gaymers race in Cardiff on th 1st of June 1986 he ran 22.33 from Carl Thackery (22:38) & ahead of prolific and very’ Great’ cross countryman Dave Clarke, who ran 22:42; and was followed in by, Harrison, TonyMilovsorov and Craig Mochrie.
Now for some of Tim’s outstanding cross country races. One must not forget he ran 3:54.59 for a mile (31/7/82 in Edinburgh) and 8:15.3 for 2 miles.
It was in 1982 his coach FRANK HORWILL pointed things out to me when I said “When did he realise Tim Hutchings future laid more with the 5000 than with the 1500?
He said “In 1983 Tim won the National (He previously had been a bronze medallist in the Inter-Counties Junior cross when he was still at Loughborough). It was after the National win at Stopsley Luton that he won from Dave Clarke and Kevin Forster.
          In that first National Tim won, I asked him when the field settled down was he surprised to find, even though he was a fast track runner. that he was not really up near the front?

“Not really, no, I am not a confident enough runner, certainly not in the National, to get in the front two or three right from the start. It took me a mile to get up to the first half dozen. After half a mile there were still 50 guys in front of me, and I was beginning to pass them. I am convinced there were 20 or 30 guys who went too hard in the first mile and it probably cost them that many positions in the final result. I was amazed Nicky Lees, who I had not heard a great deal about this winter, should have pushed himself so hard at the beginning. Dave Lewis, I think, had stomach trouble. I remember seeing lots and lots of faces up there in the first couple of miles who finished way down the field.”

The man Tim had great respect for Dave Clarke, with all the results that he had had, he thought he would put the boot in when they were moving away from the field but, it was Tim who eventually got clear to win, after coming aong beside him in the third lap.
In 1984 in  Meadowlands, East Jersey, USA Tim ran for England in the International which was considered as a World cross country Championships. The first six runners were  Carlos Lopes (Portugal) 33:25, 2nd TIM HUTCHINGS (England) 33:30; 3rd marathon man Steve Jones (Wales) 33:32. Then came Pat Porter (USA); Wilson Waigwa (Kenya) and Ed Eystone (USA).  I said to Tim he was in a good position to win it at one stage?

“My confidence has taken a severe dent though. I had done a couple of road races in February in the States and raced pretty poorly in them, just as Dave Lewis did this February in the same two races. . Then I ran a small race up at Bolton the week before going out to New York but, in between the race in Florida and the race at Bolton, I had 2½ weeks of injury so, I lost about fifteen to sixteen days off training with my shins. About 10 days before New York I was really wondering whether I should bother to go, even though I had been pre-selected. Funnily enough, at the time of the National there was no way I could have run, as I was laid up with a shin problem and had not run properly for a couple of weeks. I started running about two or three days later. Got some strides done on the Thursday and raced in Bolton in the weekend and flew to New York the following weekend. Possibly if I had gone there without that interruption, even with the poor results in Florida, I would have been more confident.
Again when you get up to that level psychology becomes so important. I never really entered that race thinking’ I Am going to win’ or ‘I want to win this, which is what you should be thinking if you are determined and confident. That might have made a difference.”

1984 was the Olympic year in Los Angeles. The First eight in the Final of the 5000m were Said Aouita (Mar) 13:05 59 which was an Olympic record, 2 Markus Ryffel (SUI) 13:07.54; 3 Antonio Leitao (POR) 13:09...20; 4 Tim Hutchings (in his personal best time of 13:11.50; 5 Paul Kipkoech (Kenya) 13:14.41; 7 Doug Padilla (USA) 13:23.56; 8 John Walker (NZ. The ‘Great’ 1976 Olympic 1500 Champion)  (14 ran in the final)
Tim “As I wrote this in Marathon and Distance runner in 1986. At the time he said
‘It is a couple of years now I regard it as a success I suppose! Looking at the injuries I had through April- for about a five week period I was out- I regard the Olympics, as a great success and a fantastic achievement but I have got to move on from that. I have got to use that as a base now and a source of confidence. It was such a fast race that tactics were not a significant factor.Everybody was strung out right from the first lap”
  On snowy Town Moor, Newcastle in 1986, Tim Hutchings won the National senior cross country in 47:25 from Dave Clarke 47.59; and Eamonn Martin the Basildon runner 48:33. A host of other good runners came in after that Mick McLeod of Elswick, Tony Milosorov of the winning Tipton team; Steve Binns of Bingley, Andy Wilton, Bob Treadwell, Neil Tennant and Roger Hackney.. 1796 finsihed the race.
Of course Tim went on to get a bronze in the 5000 in the European & Commonwealth 5000
in 1986,.won by Steve Ovett and Jack Buckner respectively. In the latter Tim ran in the front at a very fast pace and was only dropped off in the last lap.
   In the World cross-country Championships in Stavanger , Norway, 1988, 5000,.Olympic Champion, John Ngugi of Kenya won in 39:42, Tim Hutchings was 2nd in 40:10 and Kenyan Wilfred Kirochi 3rd in 40:21 and marathon man Steve Monighetti of Australia was 4th in 40.24
Looking back how very strong GB was then at cross country Kenya winning 44 pts; Great Britain 2nd 147 and Ethiopia 3rd 162. The British tem were 2nd Tim; 14 Gary Staines; 15 Dave Clarke; 45 Dave Lewis; 49 Richard Neruker; Eamonn Martin 93 and Geoff Turnbull 136.
   Tim had regards for two other runners who were at Loughborough, Seb Coe and Dave Moorcroft.
   However Tim chose to run for Crawley AC rather than a British League premier club and shows his genuine love for the sport when he said, “I would very much like to be a club
runner and get involved with the club atmosphere, maintain my status but actually go along to the club on a Monday and Wednesday night or a Tuesday and a Thursday night, train with the club and see the club developing and see the kids in the club. I think that is a wonderful thing.”
        He obviously has other interests in the sport as a consultant but it is good he felt the way he did.”

Alastair Aitken

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