Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and

David Cannon (Interview April 2011)

Dave Cannon (Born August 7th 1950) is not a well known name but that was because the UK had so many accomplished distance runners in the 1970's and 80s but if he had run in London in 2011 and, did any of his five best times he would have been the first UK runner home said Alastair Aitken.
   His start in athletics: " 12 years old from school and I lived in Westmorland then in the Lake District. It later became Cumbria because they merged with Westmorland. I was Cumbrian schools Champion at cross-country and took up Fell running from there, at the age of sixteen.Running the local Fell races and far a field really. In the early 70's I became British Fell Running Champion on five occasions. Winning the Ben Nevis race five times but because there were no international honours to be gained from Fell running, I decided to take a new challenge and see if I could run for Great Britain and took up the marathon. In 1977 I became British Champion at the Marathon.It progressed from there"
   (At Rugby on the 7th of May in 2:15:02--At 15 miles Dave was running with Coventry Godiva's Colin Kirkham both running 15 miles. In the race the other top runners were 2nd Kirkham 2:16.02; 3 Graham Dugdale 2:17:16; 4 Don Macgregor 2:18:31; Highgate Harrier, Dougie Gunstone 2:19:07 and London Irish runner,Gerry Staunton 2:19:52.).
    " The progression in the from marathon really took off for me from 1977. I improved from that winning time of 2:15 to 2:13:29 and that was a trial a trial race to go to the Prague, European Championships in 1978 from which I was selected and finished 9th in 2:14:31 (Winner Leonid Moiseyev, USSR in Champs record of 2:11.57.5 Tony Simmons was 13th in 2:15:31.5 and Colin Taylor 25th in 2:18:44.5)." I progressed down to 2:13 at Sandbach for the trials. Then from there everything was geared towards the 1980 Olympics. I went out to New Zealand in February and ran 2:13:44 (Auckland) coming 2nd). I finished second to Dick Quax in 88 degrees F. I thought it might be good enough to be selected but the selectors did not think so and I needed to run the trial.Unfortunately I was ill in the week leading up to the trial and I finished fifth British counter.The winning time of 2:14  which was slower than I ran in February in New Zealand they still did not select me. That was a real bad moment-a regret.'
   ' Then because I did not go to the Olympics they invited me to the Montreal International Marathon in 1980 and because a lot of countries had boycotted the Moscow Olympics the field in Montreal was exceptionally good.My best time of 2:13:29 was only the thirteenth fastest in that field for that day but I managed to win it. A lot of determination for being left out of the Olympics and a natural progression and I ran 2:11.21. After that I ran another couple of  2.11's, one in Paris and one in Japan. (Paris 1st 2:11.44. He won a marathon in 2:12:53 in Auckland NZ and at Fukoka, Japan he was a 10th in 2:11:35).
   " Paris I dead heated with RON TABB' (USA-2nd in Boston in 1981 in 2:9:31)
We dead heated because there was a lot of traffic problems at the end.We fought one another for 42 kilometres.It got to the last 195m to go and we were all stopped in traffic. We could not sprint it out so, we decided to just cross the line together 2:11:44. A good result really'
   Dave Cannon took up coaching
       " I stopped competing in 1986 through a bad viral illness which was diagnosed later as ME and I had to naturally  give up but I did take up  coaching and got success from that as well.A lot of lads that  I was coaching then--I think at one stage I had five lads running under 63.30. We don't seem to have that many nowadays.'
  It must now be a surprise to Dave Cannon that he would be the No.1 marathon runner in the UK if he was running now?
   " Surprised and disappointed really.I just can't understand why with modern technology, running shoes. Many of the athletes are full time.'
 AA " The only problem is and, I talked to Mike Gratton about this and, that they cater for those Kenyans in the big City marathons, 'Big Money fast runners' and a gap to the joggers doing it for charity. Not  so  interested in people between 3 hours and 2 hours 10 minutes?
   " That's correct. It's all or nothing nowadays really but that should not stop somebody --When I ran a race I did not necessarily run against the people. I did not run against the clock. Ran against how I was feeling.What condition I had got myself into and I knew before I started what I was sort of capable of and ran for that time. If it was good enough to win in which on many cases it was that was fantastic."
Who were the runners he had run against, great runners he admired?
" To be honest my idol before I got into marathon running was Ron Hill. I thought he was tremendous. In 1970  he ran 2:9:28 at Edinburgh.That is absolutely fantastic.He was my idol if you like. Of other people I admired a lot  was Don Macgregor, the Scottish runner. He was never quick but he had a good racing brain. He seemed to judge his races very well and get a good position out of it."

Alastair Aitken

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