Mahamed Mahamed walked in to the tent to collect his number and was met by Pete Mackrell, full of excitement following his brief chat with race favourite Andy Vernon. “Here’s your number, good luck. Andy Vernon’s over there, reckon you can beat him?” was Pete’s short jokey conversation with the shy Southampton AC athlete who just smiled and walked away. A couple of hours later and that same quiet runner stormed around the six mile course at Teardrop Lakes in 29:18 to take victory and push Vernon down to third. When you consider that Elliot – who has broken most of our club records recently – was nearly three minutes behind, this is a whole different level of running!
Author Archives: Andy
Despite spending three years at university in Leeds I’d never entered the Abbey Dash until this year. The Dash has been going 32 years and has a big reputation for being one of the fastest 10k races in the country. It starts and finishes in Leeds city centre and is an out and back course along Kirkstall Road, turning at Kirkstall Abbey (a ruined monastery built in 1152).
If you’ve been a regular reader of my reports you’ll know that 2017 has been my real breakthrough year. I’ve set PBs at every distance I’ve entered, with only the 10k (31.55 from 2016) missing. I ran two great 10ks in May (but it was too soon after London Marathon for my legs) and then the Bedford 10k in June (when it was very hot); all three were between 32.11 and 32.21.
I’m not even sure I should be writing this report as I made the cardinal sin of booking a race on 17 September. I’ll clearly never make this schoolboy error again but since I decided to make the best of a bad job I thought I’d write it up.
On the back of my fun in Lanzarote in November I responded to one of my friends, new to running, who decided he wanted to do his first half marathon. On the back of my runner’s high, whilst at Club La Santa, I booked up and paid for the Simply Health Bristol Half Marathon 17 September 2017. You can imagine Andy’s face when I came back into the sports bar and told him what I’d done. However by that time £40 and been spent and I knew I’d have to spend the next few months getting earache from Andy for booking a race on the most important day of the year.
I’ve done it; I’ve broken 15 minutes for 5k! I ran a huge personal best and took the Leighton Buzzard AC record too.
Quite a few people have asked me if it’s something I’ve always dreamed of, but in all honesty until about 3 months ago I didn’t even think it would be possible. That all really changed when I finished 83rd at the National Cross Country Championships and beat a lot of very good runners.
A couple of months later I did the London Marathon, but people I beat went straight to the track and laid down some very good times. Mates from Bedford Alex Bellew (now of Leeds City) and Josh Lunn have had superb summers and have both cracked 14:xx twice which really made me believe I could do it too if I put the work in.
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.