Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and

Newham & Essex Beagles 6 Stage Winners and Course Record Breakers 2009

NEWHAM & ESSEX BEAGLES, who were third in the Southern Six Stage at Aldershot were never out of the hunt in the Senior Men's National Six Stage race at Sutton Coldfield on the 17th of October and in fact after Dave Mitchinson , came 13th of the 95 starters in 13th place on leg One, they were never out of first place when Scotsman, Chris Mackay, took them into the lead in the latter part of stage 2. Mo Farah put the icing on the cake on stage 5 with the fastest lap of the day. However Belgrave repeated their Southern second place when their captain Neil Speaight took them from 5th to 2nd on the anchor leg and Southern Champions Aldershot & Farnham were up from 6th to 3rd, thanks to a sterling anchor leg by Ben Moreau.
   Alastair Aitken talked to all the Newham & Essex Beagles team after they finished their legs.  
Leg One Dave Mitchinson (17.30)

" I ran about 10 seconds faster than I expected to do but the first leg is not quite so important. Just keep in contact'
. 'It was OK though and considering I only have done two races in the Summer. The six stage Southern and this one I am encouraged by the result, even though I was not competitive today and not able to stay with the leaders. I had been doing duathlons with mixed results in the year"
Dave Mitchinson joined Newham & Essex Beagles in 1997-98
" I had moved away from home and so I was not in contact with my club that I was running for then'
Being in the winning National cross country team must have been a great boost for you this year
' Definitely!. I have been lucky enough with Newham to win the Six, 12 stage and the National'
 Looking back it must have been a good memory that time you won the Southern Senior cross country at Exeter
 ' Yes. I had never won a medal as a junior in the Southern cross so that was a highlight for me and always something I wanted to win. Probably my most satisfying performance was winning the AAA's half in 67 minutes. It was quite tactical in freezing conditions at Silverstone so, that was  a highlight for me' (67.08 at Silverstone, 19th of March '06 and he ran a pb of 64.22 for the half marathon the year before)
The club means a lot to you.
 'Definitely. Good bunch of lads and Bob Smith is like a Father figure to us really. He is more interested in us as people than as just athletes. I love running for the club anytime I can I will"

Leg 2 Chris MacKay (17.16)
Chris MacKay joined Newham about two years ago. He was born in Greenock and lived 30 minutes away from Glasgow and took the Beagles into the lead with about 200 left to do on lap 2 in Sutton Park.
Has he had a good year?

" Definitely I would say so. I ran 3:42 on the track. I am still chipping away at that and possibly move up when I get a wee bit older.'
'I have not been a big mileage fan. Just a slow process as I only came into running when I was 18. (Born 26th of August 1984) ' I am  only  recently up to 90 miles for the week ( He has run some impressive personal best times this year
1:50.14 (800), 3:42.43 (1500) and 3:56.7 for the Mile.)

Leg 3 Lee Merrien (17.10) How did it go for the 30 year old?
" It was OK. It was the first time I had ever run the National six stage. I was quite excited about running it and so it was a new experience for me. We had a mix up with the numbers at the start so,  it was a bit of an adrenalin rush running up the first hill and, conscious of not going off too hard or be a sitting duck for everyone behind me but, luckily I was not caught and seemed to run OK.'
   'I joined the club before Christmas last year. Today was the second time I raced for them because I was away for the 12 stage'
'The Summer was a bit disappointing for a number of reasons. Last Winter I was really pleased with and, got it together towards the end of the Summer this year with a medal in the AAA's but after that, race opportunities were few and far between' (13.59.35  but a PB of 13.57 in 2007 and he ran a 1:49.97 for 800 in 2005 showing he certainly has a fast turn of speed).
 Now for his most satisfying achievement
' The biggest achievement to me that meant something was when I finished third in he European cross country trials. I never made the GB team, so I knew I had the automatic spot so, that was an emotional moment actually. A bit of adulation. That sticks in my mind in recent times, ahead of getting into the World cross when it was my first GB vest. I ran road and cross country for Newham but was loyal to the Channel Islands on the track.(Guernsey was his club before Newham).'
Obviously Newham and EB must mean a lot to you?
" It does. I like Bob and Tony. They know all about athletics and it sticks out when I first spoke to them. I wanted to run for a  club in the UK because the Channel Islands are only track and Guernsey don't get over much. You don't get the chance in athletics to run for a  team very often and so that was an opportunity I wanted to take.'
John Nuttall the 1996 National cross-country champion is now the coach of Lee Merrien
   ' He started coaching me last year. I worked with him since December last year. He knows his stuff, been there and done it as well"

Leg 4 Kevin Skinner (17.42) with Newham & Essex Beagles in 2007 from Garden City Runners in 2006 Born 9th of December '79
You had a good run today?

   ' Not that much faster than last year and I have been in much better shape. Felt flat'
Still you came in first!  You had a good year
' PB's in almost everything that was why I thought I would run a lot faster than I did today.( 2009- Five PB's included 8:22.39 for 3k).
'A few years ago I did 2:22.41 for the marathon (2008). I am a lot fitter now so hopefully I can do a bit better than that in the London.'
'I joined Newham three years ago. Not pleased with my run today but having a break now. Been training hard since April and so need a rest and then come back and train to do well in the London'

Leg 5 Mo Farah. (16.33)
'I joined the club because my club was in Division 2 and I wanted higher competition. That was 3 years ago. It is good to be with the team. No pressure or anything. You come here and run for your club it is very good.'
  'What would be something you could point to that was of personal satisfaction in your so far.
'As a youngster I was 9th and did not make the 8 for the English schools but the next year I won it. At the time you don't know what it takes to be an athlete and you learn a lot over the years and, learn to appreciate what you do.'
How was today's run
'Not bad'
Which is your favourite surface?
' Track'
A lot of top runners are unable to train with others because of where they live or because they just prefer to train on their own. Do you think it makes a lot of difference to be training with others?
' I train with a lot of Kenyans at Teddington which helps me a lot. It does make a difference training with others and people that are better than you. You learn from them"
You ran the famous massive Ethiopian 10k?
'I really enjoyed that. People go off so hard at the start.'
Your European cross country victory in 2006 must be a strong memory for you
'Very good. I really enjoyed that.'
How about your future plans
' My main target is the European Championships in Barcelona and hopefully step up the distance later on but I am enjoying my 5000's'

Leg 6 Moumin Geele (17.03) the day before he won the Cabbage Path 10 miles race. Coached my Mick Woodford. He came from Somalia in 2003 and, does some of his training with St Marys and Mo Farah'
'It has been a good year for me. I did a PB for 5000 of 13.34.36 and something that is very special was my run over 10k in Sheffield when I did 28.38." ( Great Yorkshire Run over 10k. 6th of September)

Alastair Aitken

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