Today was the English Cross-Country Association’s annual open meeting. The ECCA is fairly important in the world of athletics in England and is responsible for:
- Organising and managing all English national cross country championships.
- Selecting athletes to represent England in cross country competition and managing those teams.
- Promoting and supporting the development of cross country running.
They also confirm a new president or the year. This is an honourary title given to people who have contributed hugely to the sport over a number of years.
The new president only took up running in his late 30’s after entering the 1983 London marathon a subsequently New York in the same year. Despite tennis being his main sport in those days, a house move meant that he left his long-time tennis club. The following year he joined a small local athletics club with two of his sons, and almost immediately took on the fledgling junior section which included them and he oversaw this for a number of years.
As his passion for the sport and his club grew, he became club chairman, but wanted to do more so became secretary and did that for many years. He also took on the primary organisation of the club’s road race and of course the home cross-countries, of which there have been over 30! This didn’t just include league fixtures, but County champs, Eastern champs and the North of the Thames champs.
At the same time he got involved with the county association and immediately became county team manager, which he has now been doing for around 30 years and continues to do.
In all his running over the years he favoured long-distance, but certainly had good speed too, as a couple of club sports day 100m showed. He was never one of the best runners in the club as he came to it too late, but was always useful in a team and reached his best around the age of 50 when still running just over 3 hours for the marathon. At this time he ran a V50 club record 2:14 for 20 miles, which we have only recently realised when searching through old files.
All of this still wasn’t enough involvement though, so he got involved with the ECCA a number of years ago and has held the post of treasurer for some time. This means he’s at all of their events and meetings, wherever they are in the country. However, it’s being in the middle of a field in the middle of winter – usually with a bloody hand, from a stake/mallet incident – shouting at every runner he knows as they struggle past up a hill, that he really loves.
He is still running strongly now and setting and breaking club V70 records. As Leighton Buzzard we are a small club who have been punching far above our weight for some time. We’ve had high moments, with a Southern XC champion and World Veterans champion, and we’ve certainly had a few low years too, but it is a fantastic honour for one of our number to be recognised on a national level for their thirty years of massive commitment to a sport that has seen a huge resurgence in recent years.
Thank you and congratulations to Richard Inchley