Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and

Peter Browne: Born 3rd of February 1949

(Peter Browne was Born 3rd of February 1949 in England and his parents originally came from Wexford)

PETER BROWNE has been a remarkable middle distance runner after starting his serious athletics as a 400m runner. He won the AAA's 800 in 1971 in 1:47.5 (See picture with Peter Browne (8); Dave Cropper (14); Phil Lewis (26) and Chris Carter (12). He was AAA's Indoor Champion in 1975 and went on to do an M40 World Best (1:51.25) in 1990 and then in 1995 an M45 World indoor time of 1:57.32.
   His life time achievements were 8.18 for 3000 at the 'Linford Christie' West London Stadium but the rest were all done at Crystal Palace "I used to train there three times a week" he said. Those times were 48.00 as a junior international (47.1 on a relay); 76.4-600; 1:46.2-800; 3:46.6-1500 and 55.1-400 hurdles. One must also consider Pete Browne has loved running since he was taken on a family walk at the age of 10 and, found a grass track marked out.He asked his Father Peter to time him running round. His Father had to nearly drag him away because, he kept on asking him to do it again and again to better his time! In 2009 all those years later at 60 years of age, he managed to get inside 3 minutes indoors for the 800 (2:28.19) and jogged round the Metropolitan League cross course at Ruislip, in October, in 243 position out of  289 finishers as 4th over 60 runner in the race..
   Looking back over the years it is easy to notice Peter Browne had a fantastic degree of consistency as a high quality performer over two laps as a younger man, without many injuries which helped. Since then in later times as a veteran  he has been plagued with them. One must point out in his years as a Master also he had some high pressure and stressful jobs, particularly as an accountant heading up a Finance team. He also was a Southern, England and then British team Manager in the early 90's and, takes on tasks for his club Thames Valley Harriers, which he is more than willing to do. Combined with all that, with his wife Jean, he has brought up three children. Sarah born 1975; Julie 1977 and Ken in 1981 and he is also a Granddad to a little boy called Cameron. Put all that together  Peter has not had so much time to train latterly but now, he has become semi-retired and works three or four days a month and can reflect on his  successful professional and athletic career and can set about helping and advising people as much as possible.
   Peter Browne's wife Jean is also involved in athletics. As a young woman Jean 'Hamilton'  was a sprinter for Highgate Harriers and it was at Parliament Hill Fields that she met Peter " Highgate Harriers was  a vibrant social club then with lots going on" Peter remarked. Jean was a Sussex 200 Champion, a National Vets sprint Champion over 35 and then a bronze medallist in the European Masters indoors. She was Team Manager for Track & field with Parkside (Now Harrow) for 20 years. She is on the Middlesex County Committee and been their cross-country team Manager for several years.
   As a junior Pete Browne competed for Queens park Harriers and it was in his 40's he became a fervent member of Thames Valley Harriers. His grandfather was a sprint hurdles champion for Ireland!
   Looking back to when Peter Browne broke through as a junior. He was friends with outstanding 16/17 year old 'Superstar' John Wilson, who was trained by Charlie Elliott (Editor of Athletics Arena publications in those days). John took Peter along to see his coach and he took him on. " I had been training with the lads at QPH for a year and a half. I did not know what event I wanted to do. A bit of high jump or 200m running. Just drifting along. There was no indication I was going to be an international. I started with Charlie and after six months I competed internationally in the first ever junior international against France. I had only been briefly running in club races before that but by the end of the season I was ranked in the top three in my age group'
   Looking back he said " I believe Charlie Elliott at that stage, 40 years ago, was if not revolutionary was evolutionary and developing on others and refining techniques. A man ahead of his time'
   Peter Browne was not a big mileage man, as he felt it did not suit him because when he did 80 or 90 mile it did not work for him more 60 to 70.
   Now for his exciting life as a racer. He ran against Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett and managed to beat Steve when he in his late teens several times but not Seb Coe. He liked both of them. Did he feel Steve Ovett would become a great  athlete at the time?
   ' Steve Ovett was always destined for greatness and with due respect to Harry Wilson, anybody could have coached Steve Ovett. He did not actually and still doesn't realise how good he was'
   Pete Browne won the Southern 800 at least 3 times and the Middlesex Championship 800 12 times. In 1984 Coe smashed the County record in 1:45.2. "I ran third in 1:51.0. Coe was starting to knock out World Class times on a regular basis then. Coe was a different kind of runner to Ovett. Much more technical and clinical in his approach but again, a very personable guy"
   Now for a sprinkling of races from the many Pet Browne did.
   In the AAA's 800 on 24.7.71 Peter Browne won in 1:47.5
   " It was a strange kind of race. I was confident. I knew I was in good shape. I hit the front after 400 run at a reasonable pace. We had gone through in 53-54. There was some bumping behind me and I got  shoved in the back. I was leading at the time and it propelled me forward a metre or so at the 350 mark so, this was a sign to  go for it. I kicked in fairly hard and kicked again in the home straight and held on to win by a fairly comfortable margin which was a life time PB at the time. It was quite special in many ways because it was at Crystal Palace and my family were there. A progression from the previous two years when I was 3rd then 2nd."
   The European Games Final in Helsinki on the 12.8.71 was a very strong memory for Pete.
In his heat he ran 1:49.4 when he was 4th to Yevgeniy Arzhanov (SU) who won in 1:49.3.
   "It was my first major international Championship. We had trained in the massive Stadium just to get a feel of the track. We came out for the heats of the 800 and that coincided with the final of the 10k.Juha Vaatainen was the great Finnish hope and went on to win that. We warmed up outside, came through the tunnel for the heats and we were totally unprepared for what was about to meet us. The stadium where we trained had become familiar when it was empty. That night we came out and stadium was jammed with screaming Finns all fired up for the 10,000. The sound was physical. We stepped on the track and virtually froze with such a shock but, I managed to recover and I qualified for the semi-finals (On the 11th of August won by Dieter Fromm of East Germany in 1:48.6 and Peter Browne 3rd in 1:49.0).
   In the Final (The first 6 out of the 8 were 1, Yevgeniy Arzhanov 1:45.6, 2 Dieter Fromm 1:46.0; 3 Andy Carter (GB) 1:46.2; 4 Hans-Henning Ohlert (EG) '1:46.95; 5 Pete Browne 1:47.0; 6 Jozef Plachy (Cze) 1:47.3.)
   " It was a fast race and I was still in the race with 100 to go but I had not got anything to respond when the 'Big Boys' kicked in the straight but it was the most painful experience. We walked to the side of the track where our kit was. I sat down on the bench and could not move. My hamstrings were on fire. It took half an hour before I could stand and walk back"
   In 1974 Steve Ovett won the AAA's Final in 1:46.09 from Pete Browne (1:46.43) but Peter was impeded in the race but did not complain.
   In 1989 Pete Browne ran in the World Masters 800 M40 Final in Eugene, Oregon and had a very close race with two other good British veterans Ron Bell and Les Duffy. Browne won in 1:55.2 from Bell and Duffy.
   " It was a mission. My Father had just died. He was always very supportive of me. It was just before my 40th birthday in January that happened. I wanted to do something to make him proud. Ron Bell had 800/1500 M40 World records.
It was the first big veteran championship I had been to. It was a wet day so it was described as three spitfires coming out of the clouds.!"
   In 1990 in Budapest, Pete Browne, won three individual M40 gold medals. 400 51.56, 800 1:57.59; 1500 4:07.33--In the latter the 2nd and 3rd were Trevor Alderdice and John Potts.
   " The 1500 was never my best as my life time best was 3:46 . Because of the programme in Budapest I was able to do all three. The 1500 was obviously the hardest because it was the top of my range."
   Peter sums up with a little of his philosophy on life at the age of  60.
               "it is the age of reflection and you realise what is important in life. What achievements actually mean. Sometimes they are important and sometimes not quite as important as they appear to be at the time. You start to reflect on how your life has gone and what experiences you have had. You realise that life is making the most of your abilities. Not doing things that are destructive or detrimental to others and how important relationships are to both family and friends."

Alastair Aitken

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