Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and

Six of Belgrave's Winning 12 Stage Team

Belgrave Harriers have been a successful club for the last ten years and out of the winning National 12 stage team were six who came second to Aldershot Farnham & District in the Southern Six Stage.
    Here Alastair Aitken talked to them after each of their legs in Rushmoor Arena, not just about the race but their athletics this year.

   NEIL SPEAIGHT (Leg One 18:03 in 2nd a position the club maintained to the finish).
A member of Belgrave since 2001
   "You went well on the first leg?"

"I was quite happy. The horrible thing was I had only one race early in June but I was in so much pain, I limped home in last place. It was so frustrating because I had such a good indoors (3:39.7-1500). I made the European championships indoor Final. I  then stepped up another level and had a wicked couple of month's training then, it all went wrong. My left Achilles that has troubled me, probably for five or six years, flared up really badly again. Not only that and, as I get older as I am now 31, my right Achilles went. Short of surgery I don't know how I am going to get it better. At the moment all I am able to do is run. I had 3 months off over the Summer. I have been running for maybe five weeks.
Just steady running I can't do anything fast so, to come here and run a pretty good time! Ben (Whitby first on the first leg) was a bit strong but he is off the back of marathon running. I am really, really pleased with that.
   "At one time you did an 800m in a very good time. In fact 1:45.81 in 2003 so, looking back at that you know you can run fast doing other things, at a slightly different level like you do with road running?"
   "Absolutely, I am Captain of Belgrave cross country and road teams this year. We have got a proud tradition of road running. It is nice to be part of that. Even if I was not running on the track I would still like to be part of the team."
    " I suppose you have to nurse your Achilles along?"
     ' Pretty much.'
     ' I always said to myself I would not train hard to get slow and that would be the time I called it a day. I have obligations and I love the road races and relays. For the time being I will keep going.'
      Regarding Belgrave Harriers and what people say about them!
      "I know sometimes we get hard times in the message forums and Press and stuff but everyone gets on well. We have a really great team spirit. The good thing about us is people want to turn up at the road races so we generally have a strong team."
       JAMES KELLY (18.51) originally from the 'States' but been here many years.
       A member of  Belgrave Harriers for 21/2 years
       " Have you had a good season?"

       "Set personal bests and probably the most satisfying was 8:23 for 3000 which was three seconds faster than my personal best which came from five years ago."
   "To-day the sharpness was not quite there. Not gone to the next gear but I have been injured for the last month. I am trying to get back my speed just a bit."
       STEVE SHARPE (18:29)
       Joined Belgrave in 2001 and since then gained more medals than anyone in Belgrave for the Southern and National Relays

       "I am a bit rusty you know, because it is the first race of this season. It was not too bad a run; the best I could do as only been back training for four or five weeks but I felt good."
        NICK GOOLAB (18:35)
        Belgrave for the last two years

        " I have been training for about three weeks after having a break. I did not feel very good today and I found it horrible on the first lap but I ran as hard as I could for the club especially as San Farah came up on me, I then gave it everything I had for the team.'
   ' I finished up the Summer season pretty well before taking a break. I had improved on the track by 6 seconds over 800, 5 seconds over 1500 and 9 seconds over 3k."
       SIMON JONES (18:47)
       Belgrave for the last three years.

' I think I lost  about 25/35 seconds today. Running has been shocking this year. I have just had one of those bad years.I have been training hard but not quite clicking in the races. Sometimes it happens like that so, it has been getting a bit frustrating. I had a little break and I have got a new coach and I'll start again with fresh ideas- George Edwards is my coach. A really nice guy to team up with and hopefully next year!
  ' I ran a sub 30 in Birmingham this year (29:54.75) for 10k and 14.28 on the track over 5k, still not feeling comfortable. I am 25 now and have 7/8 years at the top and trying to make it. I think hopefully, with the experience of George at top level, he can tweak a few things that will make the difference. The training has not quite come off. I am hoping Wicks will have a good run to-day (Wicks was 3rd fastest overall in  Rushmoor Arena). The team has done well with a few pulling out and injuries!. .Mark Miles has had to work today so he could not run.'
   ' With Newham and Aldershot now it is more challenging where as before we had it a bit easy. Now they are getting it together. All the Aldershot boys get on well and as I say, it is more challenging and better for the sport. More competition with more teams running better.'
Simon Jones used to run for Cardiff
 " In the old days where I lived back in Wales we used to have the Bridgend club with people like Steve Brace, Cox, Greg Newhams, Dale Rixon all running 62 halves and training together every Thursday night. Swansea there was Ian Hamer, Nigel Adams. Guys like that all running together in training. At Cardiff you had Stephenson, Justin Hobbs etc. Really big groups which we are lacking now. I have got no one to train with where I live. You are on your own. The same with Phil Wicks training  on his own and I think we get a raw deal and have not got that competitive edge in training. Everyone on their own. My belief is that is why the Africans are so good, not because they are at altitude so much but the fact THEY ALL TRAIN TOGETHER on a day to day rather than just on a race day!
   PHIL WICKS (17.45)
 Belgrave for the last four years.

" It was good. Unfortunately when I took over I was too far behind to make up the gap. I think I lost a couple of seconds at the end. It was really hard today with the heat. Quite hard on the first lap trying to make up time if I could. Then the second lap I really started to feel it.'
   ' You had a period earlier this year when you were injured and it effected your track results?
   ' I am back running hard and got the World half marathon in a couple of weeks times so, I am on some really heavy mileage at the moment. Long runs with tempo intervals in them. I have not eased down at all for today obviously with a race in two weeks' time.
   ' Belgrave could still win the National Six Stage?
   ' Hopefully we can be stronger then. There is such good strength and depth across the clubs when you get to the National Six Stage. We are going to have our hands full to try and win it again .If we all run as well as we can!'
     Regarding your track racing this Summer re your injuries?
' I just did one 5 and one 10k race on the track. I was hoping to run a quick time over 5k this year but I only just dipped under 14 minutes,  disappointing really but that is part of the sport unfortunately with the injuries. I have got to  try and re-focus and hope next year I can run quick on the track.
   You had some very good cross-country races ?
   "Yes, I have come off a good cross country season last year and road has gone really well which is my real passion. Over 10k and half marathon I have done PB's 28:54/62:51 this year.'
    " What is your opinion of Belgrave Harriers then?
' In my opinion they are the best club in the country. The support we get from the team management Alan and Pat Meade and all the guys are so close .We all run for each other. We have won so many medals at National & Southern so the team spirit is good.'
     Phil Wicks points out:-
   ' I started running at 18 and I am now 25. Before I started running I did just football and things that keep you fit. Always been into my sport. I found there was one thing running on the road but if you have never run a cross-country race before you need much more strength so that was why it took a couple of years to start to establish myself. Regarding the future cross countries. I would like to run in the European cross country in Dublin in December."

Alastair Aitken

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