Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and
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Walter Wilkinson (Interviewed Summer 2000)

Walter Wilkinson of Longwood HAC/Rowntree AC.
Longwood is the club Ex-World record holder for the mile Derek Ibbotson belonged to. They were both' Great Yorkshire runners'.
   Walter Wilkinson was born 2nd of November 1944. In his life his best times were 3:56.6 for the mile and at 800 1:48.4
   In a Yorkshire paper he was said to have been a fireman on the trains on the Harrogate line. I can remember him in a picture depicted as a train driver. That must have been a tough job for someone who also wanted to be a top athlete?
   " If I had been working all night it made me a bit bad tempered and I could then put, the aggression into races' he remarked.
   Walter was AAA's 1500 Champion in 1970 with a time of 3:45.3 and Indoor AAA's Champion in 1969-70 also, in 1969 he was the European bronze medallist Indoors in Belgrade in 3:46.4. (That year the superb tactical racer John Whetton won the European outdoors title in Athens).
   I met Walter Wilkinson at the British Masters Championships at Bedford in 2000 when he had just won the 'Over 55'
800 Final in 2:09.49, in hot windy conditions, ahead of two very good veterans at the time, John Treadwell and Reg Phipps.
   Why then did Wilkinson, the sixth fastest miler in the World in 1971 still continue to race at  55?
   " I just love racing, any kind of racing, since I was fourteen.'
   What then were Walter Wilkinson's favourite memories of top-class racing then?
   ' Probably my 3:56.6 in the Inter-Counties mile at Leicester in 1971, in front of Brendan Foster, Peter Stewart, Jim Douglas and John Kirkbride and, my AAA's 1500 win in the final year it was held at the White City  (3:45.3).
  Since those days he said ' I have run three or four marathons around 2:30 but although I have not cracked that I have gone through in 1:48'
   Walter named who he considered the best middle distance men he had run against as John Walker, Keino, Filbert Bayi, Coe and Ovett."  

Alastair Aitken

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