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4th Jun, 2024, Alastair Aitken

Michael James McLeod, born 25th of January 1952, a friendly, unassuming character, who caused a ‘Great Star’ in the North East of England with his winning road races. I think of him as the ‘Elswick Express’ who won races in the middle 70’s, including achieving the UK 5000 title on the track in 13:25.2 back in 1978 yet, many years later in 1992 he won the Inaugural World Veterans 10k road Championship title, in Birmingham in 30:40. That shows his span of good runs over a long period of time. For BMC interest, Mick ran his fastest mile at Crystal Place in 1979 with a time of 3:56.38. He won the Golden Grand Prix 10,000 in Brussels in his fastest ever 10,000 time of 27:39 26. ahead of Gateshead hero Brendan Foster. That was on the 4th of September 1979.

His Olympic 10k silver medal in LA, on the 6th of August 1984, stands out. On the day, passing the winning post at the finish, was the winner Alberto Cova of Italy, who did 27:47.54, then came the tall, Martti Vainio of Finland and, 3rd Mick Mcleod in 28:08.24. Mick Mcleod was then put forward to 2nd place because Martti Vainio had been disqualified for taking anabolic steroids. Alberto Cova has since admitted to taking blood transfusions during his career! So, theoretically GB could have another Olympic Champion in Mick Mcleod!

Besides winning the First Great North Run Mick was 3rd in the 10,000 in the Commonwealth of 1978 in Edmonton.

His son Ryan McLeod, who, amongst other things, was a Birith half marathon Champion and ran 64:18 for the distance and, of course his Father’s advice came in very useful.

Although Mick McLeod was not keen on running cross-countries in heavy mud, it was not so bad at Luton when, he won the National in 1979. In that he had a battle till late on, with Benie Ford, Nick Rose, Steve Kenyon, Julian Goater &, Steve Ovett . “I went down to Luton with one ambition and that was to win the race. I don’t like to be too confident in races but once I got started I felt comfortable although, on the last lap I was a bit worried by Nick Rose, It was his first time over that distance and I was worried a little bit with Nick because, at that stage I was tired, especially running up the long straight and you could not see the turn with the crowds. I think it was a good half mile or more but, once you came to the finishing straight and that was when I kicked and, that was when I knew I had won the race. He was so pleased to win he said ‘I was over the moon winning the National”;

Mick’s Dad Bill, had been a professional sprinter. Another positive thing, Mick never thought of changing from Elswick Harriers, near Newcastle and. He is an owner and Director of Abacus Printers.

MM- “At Senior School I ran the 100 & 200 but I was always beaten by the big lads. I think I was in the second year when we were doing a 2 miles with the seniors-3rd & 4th year and I came 2nd, and from then on , I ran quite well, ..sixth in the English Schools Cross-country in 1966. I then ran a few good races but I only trained twice a week and I ran 4:19 for the mile in 1968. I did not start training hard till 1976

Then it was twice a day ! Seven O’clock In the morning. How much I do varies according to how I feel when I get up. I train again about 3;30 It varies what I do a week: 50, 60, 70 miles. Not usually as low as 50 but, it depends if I am peeking for a big race; it is then probably down to 50 or a bit less. When I am going for a Big race I have a day off here and there.”

He added “Athletics does not revolve around me. I have many other hobbies to contend with, skin diving, water skiing and photography. I am quite active. I have two brothers and they dive and ski. I haves someone to go out with most of the time and, I thoroughly enjoy it. If I get sick of training I go diving if the weather is fine.” (Talking to me back in 1979)