Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and

Grenville Tuck Interview (May 2010 and in 1975)

Grenville and Graham Tuck were consistently good international cross-country runners in the 1970's when the UK had already had more top class 5,10k and cross country runners than at any other time. Trevor Wright, Mike Tagg and Dick Taylor, also ran well in the 1960's and were still forces to contend with.
   I interviewed Grenville back in 1975 and, talked to him again briefly,after the Ranelagh Half Marathon in Richmond on the 16th of May 2010. The Ranelagh event he had won a couple of times.
Grenville declared "This year me and my twin bother are going to go for World records. We will both be 60 (On the 22nd of October).'
   The World record for 'Over 60' for the marathon is 2:36.30 by Yoshihisa Hasaka, which was achieved at Beppu on the 1st of February last year. The British record for Over 60's was by William McBrinn, which he accomplished back on the 21st of April 1991. I feel with two such talented athletes as the Tuck's that, the latter should not create to much of a problem for them.
   For the last fifteen years or so Grenville has raced regularly, particularly in Veteran Athletic club  events and has been beaten in veteran AC Championships by people who would not have got within three minutes of him over the country in the 1970's or even '80's
   ' That is true but, I have started training properly so, hopefully in November I will go for the World record in the London next year.'
   Having won things like the Ranelalgh Half Marathon and looking at the event as it is now and of course  the changes in athletics for distance running he had this to say:-
          'Too many joggers I suppose. When you see things like the Kent Championships on the track, your realise few people are interested in running track  these days.
He added about road races ' If you take the Walton 10 miles road race years  ago, if you broke 50 minutes you were about 30th. If you break 60 minutes now you are in the first 10 in road races!' Grenville also pointed out ' I ran 50 minutes when I had turned 40 in 1991'
   He compared the state of athletics then to now 'The goodish runners get lottery funding now. We used to run to work 5 miles and run home and things with no funding.'
   ' That is a good point to go back to regarding what Grenville told me in Athletics Weekly in March 1975
 ' If I was not running I could take a part-time job at the weekends and earn a bit more money. I have three weeks holiday at work and if I take a trip abroad I lose two or three days pay. It was four days when I went to Greece.'
   He pointed out that he ran 28:25 for 10k on the track ' That would probably make the team now. Not counting the fast run by Chris Thompson did in America.'
   Grenville Tuck came 13th and his brother Graham 7th in the International Junior cross-country Championships at Vichy in 1970.
   Grenville Tuck won the Senior Inter-Counties cross country Championships in 1972 but when he looks back now he says
   ' I was a nobody. I took the lead and I thought' hang on a minute' I can win this'
   Grenville was on 80-100 miles a week of running in the cross-country season...
   About that 1972 race Grenville told me about his preparation for the Inter-Counties in 1975
   ' I felt I was ticking over quite nicely after finishing 30 seconds ahead of Gammoudi at Granollers (Mike Tagg won) and then January came along and I ran with Bedford in Antwerp. After I did quite a bit of leading there, Dave managed to catch me over the last half mile and beat me by two seconds. I was some 20 seconds ahead of Gaston Roelants, whom I have always admired, and that spurred me on a bit the week before the Inter-Counties-- I made a break just before the top of this steep hill soon after the start (I had been doing a lot of hill work) and when we got to the top I was about 10 yards up. I thought I might as well keep going now; with a  lap to go I thought I am going to win this if I keep going.When you are in the lead the adrenalin starts flowing and I was feeling fantastic. I really pushed it up the last hill and with a mile to go I was 200 yards clear and a lot of things kept buzzing round in my head. Shall I put my arms up? That race seemed to go by so quickly. Graham was 7th and that was quite a big breakthrough as well.'
   In 1973 Pekka Paivarinta of Finland won the 'World' International cross-country and Grenville Tuck was 11th and the second English scorer at Waregm.
He was 6th in the National of 1974 when David Black won. In the International at Rabat Ian Stewart won and Grenville was 12th, just ahead of Waldamar Cierpinski, Emiel Puttemans and Frank Shorter.
It was in 1974 that Grenville improved his 1973 time of 28:43.4 for 10,000 on the track to 28:25.8.
By the end of 1975 he had some other good personal bests already recorded of 7:58.4 for 3k, 13:56.8 for 5k and 2:26:41 for a marathon.
   In 1975 Grenivllle was 3rd in the National (47:08) behind Tony Simmons (46:24) and Bernie Ford (46:32)
   Looking back now he remarked ' That was a good one. In those days you had the likes of Simmons, Bedford, Ford and Black to run against!'
   He was 6th in the National of 1974 won by David Black and in 1975 in the National he was 4th behind Bernie Ford Dave Moorcroft and Steve  Kenyon.
   A crowning achievement came with something special, outside of his running, and that was on the 29th of December 2007.After  22 years as a caretaker at the Coombe Hill Infants and Junior school, at Kingston Upon Thames, he was awarded an MBE, Although he told me  that was not mentioned in Athletics Weekly.
   ' I used to run two running clubs and a footabll club, drive the school min-bus all over the place and they put me down for that"

Alastair Aitken

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