Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
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BERNIE PLAIN MBE at the Relays (April 2019)

Bernie Plain (Born 3/12/46) is someone I had interviewed before but, felt like asking his opinion on the fact that quite a lot of the top runners do not do the National road relays in recent years. Bernie said that there are so many races that, they clash with and, other distractions these days but that it was a shame as, it has been a  ‘Classica’ event and, it is only two weeks before the London Marathon. An ideal preparation for it.     Bernie  continued by saying “The relay has lost a lot of its sparkle these days. In my day all the clubs would come together with their top runners’
‘I can remember Allen Rushmer, Dick Taylor and Bill Adcocks running. In those days we had many powerful distance runners... I can remember the Hillingdon 5 miles road race, when the fist 40 broke 25 minutes for the course.’
‘Races like the Poly Marathon, that I won a couple of times and came 2nd in also.
‘It had Great’ history. I won the 100th won. That has gone; then there was the high standard Walton 10; Woking 10, and Bracknell 10, all gone. I used to run 110 to 130 miles a week and held the British record for 20 miles on the track 1:40.34.6, and he had a full time job at the  time. Although the event is not held much now I remember when I did it in the cold on the 1st of December 1973.”  Bernie ran cross-country for Wales many times in the International cross country (Old World cross country) and his marathons included 4th in the European Games in Rome in 1974 and 7th in the British Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1974, with  a time of 2:14.57 and he won many in shorter  road races in the UK but the most memorable for him was not one he was first in but Dave Bedford’s World record run at Crystal Palacew in 1973-- 27:30.8; 2nd was Tony Simmons 28.01.8;3rd Bernie Plain 28.30.22 They went through 5000 in 13:50... Tony Simmons and I were the only two in the field, not to be lapped by Dave and, it is still a memory for us when we talked about it recently. I know the Kenyans and Mo Farah are much faster now but really you ran against the best at the time then.”

Back into the original theme of the ‘Classic’ National 12 stage relay.
Bernie Plain points out ‘I remember in 1974 when Gateshead had 100 yards lead into the last bend, before going  up the straight and, I thought we had blown it for medals but Peter Ratcliffe, running for us on that last leg was a 3:43’ 1500m man and, he caught Gateshead right on the tape. One must remember that the run in is deceptive and quite a climb to the finish!
(I always found coming up by tube, then train to the event was one of my highlights for the year and more exciting than international athletics these days AA).
Bernie points out his club Cardiff came 3rd twice and, to even get a medal in those relays was something very special in those days.
‘This year the Scottish and Welsh teams were blocked on the emails so, Norman Wilson, turned round and said ‘it’s a AAA’s Championships not just for England so, all the areas of the UK should be able to compete.’... Regarding the six stage, both Cardiff and Swansea have won and supported the event from Wales through the years.

Alastair Aitken

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