January Virtual 5km and Sam Shoebottom 10km

Many members will have had trouble finding an ice-less road on which to do their January Virtual 5 kilometres. However, Dave Evans tells me the snow is disappearing from the Lakes so all should now be well. Forward your clockings to me at tonymtaylor@gmail.com by midnight, Tuesday, January 31st. Remember this virtual race counts in the annual handicap competition.

Hot on the heels of this deadline we will be meeting and competing in the flesh at Chorley for the rearranged Sam Shoebottom 10-kilometres race on Saturday, February 4th. The event will start at 1.00 p.m. As usual it will be very helpful if you could let Dave Evans at dave.evans08@hotmail.co. if you are coming and in what capacity. With a bit of luck and an unexpectedly cheap flight I might make it

St Peter’s Church Hall, Harpers Lane, PR6 0HP.


In recent weeks we have paid tribute on our site to two stalwarts of our sport, Ray Middleton and Dave Boxall, Both our posts now contain new material. Graham Young from the Isle of Man offers a fascinating glimpse into the past world of European and British Postal race walking, whilst there is more detail on Dave Boxall’s 100 miles achievements.

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Dave Boxall RIP – Centurion Extraordinaire

Whilst I was in the middle of putting together the tribute to Ray Middleton news came through that the redoubtable Dave Boxall [Brighton and Hove AC] had died. At that moment I hurriedly inserted an acknowledgement of this sad loss into the piece on Ray. In retrospect, it now feels more appropriate to devote a separate post to Dave’s achievements.

Richard and Sandra Brown have unearthed the following insight into Dave’s exploits. Much appreciated.

Dave Boxall C464 RIP

Dave Boxall was one of our great Centurions. He completed 12 UK Centurion events over more than 30 years 1971 – 2005, winning 6 of these.

He qualified as C464 at Ewhurst 1971 in 18h 26min.33sec [4th in race]

He won 6 times in 1972, 1973,1974,1975, 1979 and 1980.

His best time was 1979 Ewhurst, 17h 24min 00 – and this we think is the 10th best men’s time for UK Centurion completions

His completions were all sub 20 hours except the last, Kings Lynn 2005 in 22h11min 10sec. We think he was 72 years of age when he achieved this completion.

In the 1970s, Dave competed in France in a number of qualifying races for the Paris-Strasbourg ultra-distance classic. He won the following and may have completed others:

1973 Rouen 200kms, 22h 12min

1974, Rouen 24 hrs, 206kms

1976, Conflans 200kms, 23h 09min

1977, Chateau-Thierry, 200kms, 23h 26min

1978, Conflans, 200kms, 22h 04min (this may be the 2nd fastest 200kms recorded by a UK walker).

He never seems to have entered the Paris-Strasbourg (despite clearly qualifying), leaving that to his compatriots Colin Young and John (Paddy) Dowling. He subsequently said he never had the funds to put together a team to compete.

In later life, he gave generously to the Centurions before succumbing to ill health.

Alan Buchanan muses.

A sad ending for a popular runner and Walker we have known for 60 years and was with me in Hove when the first flakes of snow fell on Boxing Day 1962 preceding that terrible winter.  RIP Dave 

Dave Ainsworth comments.

When I qualified as a Centurion it was in 1974 (Leicester-to-Skegness) – Dave Boxall was the race winner.  Dave won 4 consecutive 100 Miles races in the ’70s and when he won such events, it was always in the 17 hours’ time bracket.  Nowadays they’re won in 19 hours or something – even 20 hours on occasions.  Dave was a true all-time great.

Mike Parker [New Zealand] adds.

Really sad to receive the news about the death of an old club mate Dave Boxall. Occasionally Dave & I would pass each other at some un-Godly hour on a Sunday morning along the Coast Road between Brighton & Peacehaven. Dave heading towards Brighton me going the other direction, occasionally we might walk a couple of K’s together, usually it was just a high. He was a character that’s for sure, I thought I used to pack the miles in, but it was nothing compared to what Dave would do in his preparation for those ultra-long races. Sometimes he would walk all through the night, I suppose training himself for sleep deprivation. Every year at Xmas time Dave would walk from Peacehaven to Portsmouth where his mother-in-law lived. Dave’s wife was the sensible one she drove there. I used to think he was crazy, but really, he was just a great character. R.I.P Dave

Gerrit de Jong [C456] has supplied the additional information below, for which we are extremely grateful

Dave Boxall’s Hundreds

All-Time List 100 miles

Kathy Crilley C933 has come up with this further much-appreciated information about Dave’s career.

Strasbourg-Paris/Paris-Strasbourg races:

Dave competed in the 1972 race and covered 302km and was placed 16th. There were 20 walkers in the race and 10 covered over 420km in this 513km race.

1973: Dave covered 213km and was 16th. 27 participants – 10 completed over 444km or more. Race distance 494km.

1976: Dave covered 212km and placed 20th. 26 participants – 10 covered over 470km in this 533km race

1977: Dave covered 114km placing 27th out of 28 walkers. 13 classified with over 400km

1981: Dave covered 216km placing 25th out of 34 walkers. 14 walkers covered more than 400km (race distance 513.5km)

It takes courage to enter these races and the fact that Dave never completed them doesn’t take away his achievements!

Other anecdotes welcomed in Comments here or to tonymtaylor@gmail.com

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Ray Middleton RIP – the race walker’s walker

In remembering the late Ray Middleton, an outstanding competitor and engaging character what better way to begin than with these thoughts from his great friend, Ron Wallwork. Their athletic careers were closely intertwined.

Ron and Ray rooming together in Jamaica

Ron writes:

Ray Middleton RIP

My first recollected meeting with Ray was at Southgate in 1962 when we were among the 213 walkers who faced the starter in the National 10 miles championships. Ken Matthews won in 76.10. Although I knew of him this was the race that started our relationship. We were caught up in a great scrap as shown by the result; Paul Nihill 5th/79.09, Ray 6th/7918, Rudy Haluza 7th/79.18, myself 8th/79.42, John Edgington 9th/79.49 and Peter Stableford 10th/79.51. It was the first time that I heard that loud, deep husky voice with the cockney accent and if memory serves, it wasn’t enquiring about the race we were in, but what had won the Grand National which was being staged 200 miles away in Liverpool and he was more concerned about the horse he had drawn in a sweep-stake!

The following year he went out of his way along with Harold Whitlock and Charlie Fogg to reassure me after a disappointing 6th out of six in my international debut in the Lugano Cup qualifying match against France. With the likes of Ken Matthews, and Ray winning their respective events, my below-par performance didn’t prevent GB from qualifying for the final. In the final Ray finished a splendid runner-up in the 50km and with Ken and Paul one-two-ing in the 20km the Lugano trophy was retained.

Over the ensuing years I met and spent time with Ray bi-annually on four occasions as we continued to gain selection for the Lugano Cup. Ray eventually notched up six appearances in this championship.
Peter Matthew’s overview of Ray’s career and the tribute by Tim Ericson show just what a great walker for more than a decade that he was at a time when the strength of the event in Britain was so great.
Ray’s wife Jean was like Ray, a character and anyone attending races in which Ray was competing was aware of her presence. I enjoyed their hospitality several times when needing overnight accommodation if I was racing in London.

Of course, the most memorable time was the three and half weeks we room-shared at the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica for the eight Commonwealth and Empire Games in 1966. He was still looking out for me then and it was great that he was able to share the podium with me. We had another cross-the-Atlantic stay together on the occasion of the USA vs. the British Commonwealth in 1967. Sadly, Ray didn’t get to race, but we had a great time in the six days we were in LA.

Norman Read with Ray and Ron

Over the years we met up several times at the Belgrave Seven and one memorable occasion was in the mid-’70s when Norman Read the 1956 Olympic 50km champion and Kingston Bronze medalist joined us.

Callum Wilkinson with Ray in 2021, both Tokyo Olympians

In more recent times, he was a regular visitor to the Moulton 5 and over the years gave away some of his GB vest badges to young walkers in the race who he thought outstanding. He wasn’t a bad judge! Callum Wilkinson was a recipient, who in 2021 joined Ray as a Tokyo Olympian and another was Jonathan Hobbs, the 2022 100 miles winner and National Long Distance champion.

The wonderfully atmospheric picture above was taken by Jim Coomber at the 1967 National 20 miles at Swindon. The winner wasn’t one of the three Kingston participants shown here. – myself, Ray and Don Thompson. The race was won by the Reverend Roy Lodge with Don taking second ahead of me. Also in the event that day was Johnny Todd at 2.55.26, Mike Hatton at 2.57.37 and Julian Hopkins at 3.05.38.
Lancs WC and Trowbridge tied on 52pts. However, Trowbridge’s fourth scorer finished one place ahead of Julian and so they took the National Team title.

In his piece, Ron mentions the contributions of Peter Matthews and Tim Erickson in remembering Ray’s exploits and achievements.

From the treasure trove of information collated by Peter Matthews, Editor of Athletics International & International Athletics Annual.

Raymond Christopher MIDDLETON (GBR) (b, 9 Aug 1936 Marylebone, London) died on January 8 aged 86. One of Britain’s greatest walkers, he had 17 internationals 1961-73, mostly at 50k, at which he had a fine record in the Lugano/World Cup: 1961-63-65-67-70-73: 4/2/7/8/11/19. Also 13th 1964 Olympics, dnf 1962, 5th 1966 & 1969 Europeans.

RWA 50k champion 1963 & 1965 (2nd 1961-2, 1964, 1966-7, 1970). At 20 miles he was 2nd at the 1966 Commonwealth Games and 2nd RWA 1965-6 (3rd 1961 & 1963), 3rd RWA 20k 1967, 3jrd AAA 7 miles 1962.

He set world walks bests at 50M 7:31:06 & 8hr 85.618m in 1974;

Personal Bests: 3000m 13:25.0 (1969), 2M 14:05.0 (1968), 10000m 46:59.0 (1969), 7M 52:02.0 (1968), 20k 1:34:06 (1968),1:32:57 short (1970); 30k 2:26:46 (1969), 50k 4:15:51.4 (1972).

Ray leads Don Thompson in a race at Battersea Park. Thanks to Brian Keegan

The indefatigable Tim Erickson has put together an excellent survey of Ray’s career on the Victoria Race Walking Club website – https://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/wo-ray-middleton.pdf

Within its pages, Tim draws our attention to a highlight of Ray’s career

Excerpts from the Athletics Weekly report (October 12, 1974) – dug out by Rob Elliott, Sarnia RWC.

Five World Bests for Ray

In a race which produced sterling performances in plenty, constant fluctuations in fortune, courage, endurance and fortitude, the most satisfying aspect of the Accolade 8 Hours track walk was the involvement of everyone present. Organiser Bill Sutherland did a fantastic job and was rewarded with a record-breaking day in all ways…everyone had a great day, but no one more than Ray Middleton.

The epitome of the walker’s walker, Ray had his finest race in a career already lasting almost two decades in the sport. Never experiencing a rough period, Ray says he was lifted by the encouragement and excitement of the crowds as he got amongst the records held by Harold Whitlock since 1935. Harold was there, very happy indeed to present the very cup he had received 39 years ago to Ray, who in turn was proud to have beaten the very fine records set by a man who has been an inspiration to all British walkers for the past four decades.

From the start, Ray made it clear he meant business by setting the pace, tracked by John Lees and Dave Boxall, the latter dropping away after 5 miles or so.

10 km splits Middleton 53:04, Lees 53:05, Boxall 53:39, Lawton 54:32, Selby 55:02, Markham 55:27, Fogg 55:50, Michell 55:53, Holmes and Harrison 55:55, Harding 56:17, Young and Dowling 56:18, Casey 58:23, Vos 58:36, Moulinet 58:37.

John Lees then took over and proceeded to blaze the trail in no uncertain manner before being overhauled by Middleton at 26 miles. The 20 Mile splits were as follows

20 mile splits: Lees 2:50:59,Middleton 2:53:02, Selby 2:56:13, Lawton 2:56:17, Fogg 2:58:55, Harding 3:00:37, Markham 3:01:23, Boxall 3:02:37, Harrison 3:03:05, Holmes 3:03:10, Moulinet 3:03:17, Michel 3:04:29, Young 3:05:27, Dowling 3:15:30, Vos 3:16:23, Casey 3:18:23.

Ray’s judgement and experience now paid off as Lees felt his great effort. Charley Fogg, walking a stormer, came into third with Harding, looking better and better, close behind.

50 km splits: Middleton 4:34:04, Lees 4:36:30 (personal best!), Fogg 4:39: 26, Selby 4:40:15, Moulinet 4:44:50, Selby 4:47:51, Holmes 4:50:01, Michel 4:50:44, Lawton 4:51:38, Markham 4:52:02, Harrison 4:53:48, Boxall 4:55:52, Young 4:57:17.

With the records at his mercy, Ray went on relentlessly. Moulinet had roared through to such effect that he had virtually caught Lees at 40M and was to have a battle royal with John and Ken Harding for second as the latter closed up. First Lees recovered and dropped his rivals but finally it was super-vet Harding who finished strongest of all. Colin Young now was making inroads after having to make several pit stops early on.

40M: Middleton 5:56:29, Lees 6:04:04, Moulinet 6:04:22, Harding 6:0449, Selby 6:13:25, Fogg 6:14:10, Michel 6:19:52, Young 6:23:07, Holmes 6:23:43, Boxall 6:23:57, Harrison 6:24:05

And so to the last gruelling miles. Ray swept on inspired, Ken never faltered, finally John Lees and Alain Moulinet slowed and Charley Fogg went berserk in a final effort and thought he had nailed third, only to discover he had to find another lap to get Lees. Closing strongly, Colin Young overtook Michell despite the latter’s last-minute burst.

The generally cold weather with a strong breeze was responsible for the many short pit stops taken by several walkers, while some ultra-fast laps were put in when certain walkers heard their chosen favourite records played over the loudspeaker system! Organiser Bill Sutherland had “The Sun Won’t Shine Any More” played just before the finish – the signal for a torrential downpour. All in all, a memorable day for everyone who was present.

Results (15 finishers from 16 starters)

1. Ray MiddletonBel53M 352Y / 85.618 km
2. Ken HardingRSC52M 645Y / 82.277 km
3. John LeesB&H51M 1353Y / 83.314 km
4. Charley FoggEnf51M 1042Y / 83.029 km
5. Alain MoulinetFRA51M 817Y / 82.824 km
6. Peter SelbySy WC51M 158Y / 82.223 km
7. Colin YoungEx B50M 89Y / 80.550 km
8. R MichellB’hth49M 1491Y / 80.221 km
9. D. HarrisonBoundary49M 950Y / 79.741 km
10. Dave BoxallB&H49M 221Y / 79.052 km
11. M HolmesYks48M 1448Y / 78.573 km
12. Peter MarkhamLeic48M 1214Y / 78.360 km
13. J VosNeth47M 486Y / 74.796 km
14. T CaseyRoI44M 1456Y / 70.855 km
15. John DowlingRoI43M 693Y / 69.418 km

50 Mile splits for the top contenders: Middleton 7:31:06 Harding 7:40:45; Lees 7:42:33, Moulinet 7:46:44, Fogg 7:48:13, Selby 7:49:55, Young 7:57:17

Our Club Secretary, Roy Gunnett was present at the 8 Hours race and comments:

I remember the Accolade 8-hour race in 1974 as an enthralling and exciting race to watch.

It was brilliantly organised by Bill Sutherland with sponsorship from Accolade (a very popular sports drink sadly no longer available).

John Lees took an early lead but by around 25 miles Ray Middleton took command for the rest of the race – walking with a powerful fluid style churning out the miles. He broke not only the long-standing 8-hour world record of Harold Whitlocks but other distance/time records en route. It was a truly inspiring performance by Ray. He finished the race with the crowd watching cheering and clapping him home enthusiastically.

In the last hour of the race, they played music to the competitors of their prior choice to motivate them. I remember Charlie Fogg (who was one of the competitors) saying after the race that those who took part might be great race walkers but their taste in music was dreadful!

In Tim Erickson’s splendid bio, he includes a fascinating glimpse into the tradition of race walking in the Post Office. Wonderfully he includes a link to this film of Ray winning the 1970 European Postal Walking Championship contested by walkers from thirteen countries.

Postman’s Races were a regular fixture in UK and Europe and there were even European Championships held in the sixties and seventies. The British-based Postman’s Walks were held annually from 1961 to 2011. See a full discussion of these events at http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/Postman%20Walks.pdf.

Graham Young reminiscences with particular reference to the Postal dimension of Ray’s career

I first met Ray when we were competing in a selection race at the London Postal Region Recreation Grounds at Swakeleys, Middlesex in 1965. Not unexpectedly, he went on to win the 15 k trial convincingly, and later that year we were both part of the team representing the GPO in the UISPTT Uniform Race Walking Championships in Munich. However, that was not the first time I was aware of his outstanding prowess. On the Pathe Newsreel shown at the Strand Cinema Douglas in 1961, there was a brief account of him winning the inaugural Postmen’s’ Uniform Race around the Old Roman Walls in the City Of London.

In 1966, Ray was staying in the same hotel as the Boundary Harriers contingent prior to the Annual Bradford Whit Monday 50 km. I can still picture him coming down to breakfast wearing his tracksuit in a hotel where the dress code applied! Fortunately for the staff, no one challenged him!! This was the first instance I experienced sportswear being accepted as casual dress, now regarded as being perfectly normal. How things have changed! Ray won the race from the nine times previous winner, my own coach at that time, Albert Johnson, on what was my twenty-first birthday.

We were again part of the National six-man Team which this time included John Cannell for the next race in the series of European Uniform Championships held in Bremen, Germany in 1968. The event was dominated by the team from Romania, which had appeared unexpectedly the night before the event without their uniforms with the story that “Security Reasons|” prevented them from taking the kit out of the country. Quite unfairly, they were permitted to race in trackster bottoms and vests. Not everyone was convinced that any of them had ever delivered a letter. Might it just have been a coincidence that they were all members of their Olympic Squad!?

The 1970 event was hosted by London Postal Region, starting on the newly laid, all-weather Tartan Track at Crystal Palace. Then after a lap of the Motor Racing Circuit, we headed around the surrounding London streets. However, this time justice was done and Ray was the individual victor. He was later interviewed on the Blue Peter programme, which was then at its zenith.

Also there is coverage of the 1968 LPR race out there but I haven’t been able to find a film of the 1962 race recently.

One of my most treasured possessions is an official poster that Ray gave me after he returned from the 1969 European Championships in Athens, in which he finished fifth in the 50k, with a time of 4:27.00.

The details escape me, but I recollect that Ray’s home City honoured his sporting achievements by including him in the Annual Lord Mayor’s Parade dressed in period uniform.

Ray ploughed a lot back into sport, and was at one time manager of the LPR Sports Ground at Hillingdon. He was ever willing to give advice, and encouragement, particularly to newcomers. The news of his demise came as a great shock to me. I admit to having been quite tearful. My sincere condolences go to his family, and many friends. RIP Big Man!

.Guy Goodair recollects:

My memory of Ray was that he was the rock of Belgrave Harriers, always at the forefront of their very strong team. Usually, I was miles behind Ray but the nearest I got to him was in the National 10 miles at Bolton which was won by Ron Wallwork (75.06) and Ray finished 10th in 78.16 with me 3 seconds behind in 11th spot. The team race was won by Met WC with Belgrave second and Wakefield Harriers just pipping Lancs WC for 3rd spot (162 finished that day)

Guy in pursuit of Ray in the 1967 National 10 miles

Rob Elliott remembers:

Rest in Peace Ray Middleton. Ray was one of the first race walkers outside of Guernsey that I had heard of when I started racing in 1970. Through the connections of Sarnia Walking Club and Belgrave Harriers via Len Duquemin and John Moullin, I heard of him racing in Guernsey in 1967 in the tough West Show 20 miles walk in 2.43.35. First got introduced to him in one of my early races in England. Always described to me as one of the hard tough men of racewalking. Pleased to be seated at the same table as Ray at the Commonwealth Reunion dinner some years ago. Chatted about Guernsey and he remembered the race and the finish, going through a field into the show arena for the finish.

Ray leading Charley Fogg and Len Duquemin with French athlete, JC Decosse half hidden in a France versus GB [British Race Walkers Club] match at Sutton Coldfield 1972. Ta to Len for the photo.
Thanks to John Cannell via Chris Maddocks for this photo of Ray leading Eric Hall and John Paddick

John Cannell – Terrible news, a real hard man in racing terms. Never gave up. The races when Ray and Don Thompson were involved in were legendary.

Chris Maddocks – When I was new to race walking I recall the Belgrave Harrier at 6’2″ as big in stature and character.

Steve Till – RIP Ray. On my very first race – Surrey 10,000m at Battersea Park track in 1976, I was a bit overawed by those around me, but afterwards, Ray came up to me and said, “You walked well, lad.” That meant the world to me

Tony Geal – A great man, always cheerful at walks, always willing to extract the ‘michael’, always hard to beat, fond memories of Ray and the friendly rivalry between Steyning and Belgrave RIP Ray

Frank Clark – A great walker. Nice to have known him. R. I. P. Ray

Tony Malone – Great Walker hard as nails when competing. Great Cockney wit. Great shame. Condolences to all family and friends.

Don Cox – Ray always said “It’s a matter of hanging on. “


Bob and Olive Dobson – An inspiration to Bob in his early days. Shocked to hear this news.

Bob Gutteridge – Rest in Peace Ray, many great memories. Bob Gutteridge Met WC

Brian Adams – When I first got involved in the sport in the early 60s Ray had such a high profile and therefore such a big influence on me, even before I got to know him.

Tony Taylor – For my part I witnessed Ray in the flesh at the 1965 National 50 kilometres championship held in Bolton. As best I remember the race took place over an undulating 10 kilometres lap, around which I slowly made my way. Don Thompson and Ray were locked together the number of times I observed their progress and I missed seeing Ray’s winning move. In my naivete, I could hardly believe Don had been soundly beaten.

Ray congratulated by Don, clocking 4:17:23 tto the 1960 )Olympic champion’s 4:18:31. Ta to Jim Coomber

Four years later I found myself in the midst of a race-long scrap involving up to ten athletes at any one time with Ray often taking up the lead. In the end, five of us finished within 12 seconds of each other – Phil Thorn, Bill Sutherland, myself, Roger Mills and Ray. I was just chuffed to be in such company.

Two years later I finished again just one place ahead of Ray in the National 20 kilometres championship, 11th and 12th respectively, separated by a mere 11 seconds. As a result, Lancashire WC pipped Belgrave Harriers to win our first national team title. Ray’s post-race comment to me in the mist-filled dressing room, delivered with a wry smile, was something like “never again, Tony, never again”.

A number of people have indicated that they might submit anecdotes and memories and I will post as appropriate.

Thanks to Rob Elliott we’ve been able to resurrect this fascinating portrait of Ray published in the Race Walking Record, March 1965.


RAY MIDDLETON (Belgrave Harriers) 

Ray was born in London on the 9th of August 1936. At school, he competed in the high jump and the 880 yards. Not being too successful at these sports he tried his hand at race walking and liked it straight away. His first race was in 1951 when he finished third out of three in a one-mile novice walk. 

Progress was slow but steady for Ray. In the R.W.A. Junior 5 Miles Championship in 1956 he finished sixth with a time of 41m.21s. The following year he began to win club championships and in 1959 at Wembley he won his first major race, the Southern “Garnet”. He gained his county vest the same year. In 1961, ten years after taking up the sport, Ray established himself as a force to be reckoned with over the long distances. He finished third in the National “20” behind D. Thompson and J. Edgington with a time of 2h.51m.02s., second in the Leicester Mercury Walk and second in the National 50 Kilos when he split the two Thompson brothers, Don and Nigel by clocking 4h.29m.47s. He gained his first International vest that year when he represented Great Britain in the Lugano Cup Competition over 50 Kilos. A year later he won all the Surrey County titles at 2 miles and 7 miles on the track and 10 miles on the road. For the second successive year, he finished second to Don Thompson in the National 50 Kilos with a time of 4h.30m.59s. 

At Baddesley in 1963 Ray gave the best walking performance of his career to date when on the third try he won the National 50 Kilos with a world-class time of 4h. 16m.43s. Later in the year when representing his country over 50 Kilos in the Lugano Cup Competition he finished first in the Zone Match against France and second in the final. Nineteen sixty-four began well for Ray with a third place in the National “20” and a second in the National 50 Kilos (won by P. Nihill). Unfortunately at the Olympic Games in the autumn things did not go well for him in the 50 Kilos where he finished 13th in 4h.25m.49.2s. just outside the previous Olympic Record. 

His favourite races are an odd mixture; any race on the track and 20 miles to 50 Kilos on the road. Winning the 1963 National 50 Kilos after finishing second two years running is the performance which gave him the most satisfaction. Ray, a very popular member of his club, has had advice and help on all aspects of walking from many Belgravians and from Colin Young (Essex Beagles). His training programme is moderate compared to that of his rivals for 50 Kilos honours. In the winter he does very little stripped work, only strolls on Sunday mornings. About mid-February, he starts doing “stripped” training twice a week, races on Saturdays and continues the Sunday strolls. By the end of March, he feels fit enough to step up his fast work, now transferred to the track, usually two outings per week with a strip spin over 12 miles on the road on another evening and strolls on Tuesdays and Sundays. Prior to important races he trains hard and gets plenty of good food and sleep. 

To the beginner Ray offers this advice, “never attempt any distance race until old enough and don’t worry about going through the field, only training can enable you to do that”. In his experience, the main differences between racing at home and abroad are the International Judging rules, feeding and race presentation. He thinks that we should have the International Judging and feeding rules in SELECTION races, thus leaving most of our domestic programme untouched. On the question of race presentation, he says, “countries like Italy and Switzerland always have race sponsors so they are able to put plenty of money into their races. Only races like the Leicester Mercury and the Chippenham to Calne can match the foreign races at the moment”. 

Ray sees no major difficulties for our walkers in next year’s Commonwealth Games for he is sure that the selectors will take into account the hot climate when making their selections. About the next Olympic Games (Mexico City 7,000 feet) he remarks, “I feel sure that our Olympic Committee will ensure that our runners and walkers get as much time as possible to get acclimatised; we did wonderful in Tokyo, why not in Mexico?” 

The new R.W.A. Championship changes have, he thinks, led to a better spaced out racing programme although he personally would have liked to see the National 20 Kilos in late June. His aim for 1965 – to cause at least one major upset amongst National title favourites. 

Ray is an elected member of the R.W.A. Southern Area Committee and he has definite views of his own on our sport, especially in the International sphere. He advocates better opportunities for the walker who is dedicated enough to reach the International standard to get his “vest”. On this point he comments, “there is plenty of International competition and we are always saying that we are on very good terms with the B.A.A.B. Well! let them show us walkers their goodwill by giving us a chance to get that England vest more often remembering that we won’t get invitations from other countries unless we invite their walkers to our country”. 

In Tokyo, he found that the walking was very good and he was impressed by the fact that the walkers from other countries were a part of their country’s team. They trained with the runners and field events specialists. The weather varied from hot one day to very wet the next. He would have liked some heat for the 50 Kilos but it was not to be. His last word on the Tokyo Olympic Games is “fantastic”.

The interview with Ray and the write-up were the work of John F Keown, the Editor at the time.

Athletics Weekly has also carried a tribute at https://athleticsweekly.com/athletics-news/olympic-race-walker-ray-middleton-dies-1039964149/

The Surrey County Championship 10 miles Walk at Mitcham on 24 February 1962. Ray is away and heading for victory in 77:26. Thanks to Alan Mead.

Alan Mead, the Belgrave Harriers historian has produced this great tribute to Ray on the club’s website. It offers a more intimate insight into Ray’s remarkable life.


The AW article notes too :

In a bad week for British race walking, former international Chris Smith also died aged just 64. The Leicester athlete’s best performances included 1:28:34 for 20km and 4:31:52 for 50km and following his competitive period he became one of AW’s contributors, supplying news and results from the race walking world for several years.

Chris Smith RIP

Chris was in addition a towering and inspiring coach at the heart of Leicester’s remarkable tradition of encouraging race walking in schools.

Posted in History, News | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Remembering Alan Hudson, an outstanding Centurion

Chris Bolton writes:

Alan Hudson – Centurion 414 

Alan is one of the unsung heroes in the club’s long history. Although a loyal and steady performer at all distances up to fifty miles, it was at the ultra-distance that Alan showed his special talent. 

He qualified as a Centurion at Leicester in 1968 in the magnificent time of 19 hours 20 minutes 52 seconds, earning him the honour of being the second fastest qualifier in the club’s history. Only Joe  Barraclough has recorded a faster time in over 114 years. 

Twelve months later at Bristol, he finished, together with Alan Day and Bill Cowley, in joint third place with a time of 19 hours 54 minutes 18  seconds. Again he was making history as the only club member with two sub twenty-hour performances. 

Three weeks after his qualifying race I met Alan in Manchester.  He was resplendent in a new blazer with a gleaming wire wound  Centurion badge on the pocket. “My word I like that badge,” I said.  “Yes” replied Alan “and you should see the one on my pyjamas”. 

Alan was rightly proud of his Centurion performances and they should not be forgotten.

Alan is to the left behind George Barras [16] and the whte-capped Graham Young in this 1966 TT Walk photo. Other familiar faces around even now are Chris, Roy Thorpe, Eric Horwill and Guy Goodair.

Ron Wallwork continues:

I remember Alan well along with his Prestonian colleagues, Bill McCloughin, Alan Day, not forgetting Eric Bretherton. Although not scoring in the national team successes of the late 60s and early 70s, they nevertheless played a huge part in a thriving Club and I think they put on fixtures at Preston. 

In those days there wasn’t a National Long Distance championship otherwise they would indeed have collected medals. Finishing equal third [Hudson, Day and Cowley] they easily won the “Daily Dispatch” team trophy, so perhaps we should add them to the club’s Roll of Honour.

Both Alans were also two of seven Club members among the GB record number (for a walking race)  of 257 starters in the 1967 Metropolitan Open 7.

Excerpt from Ron’s training diary 1967

RW 51.13, Mike Hatton 21st/54.48, Graham Abley 97th/60.07, Alan Day 129th/62.42 and Alan Hudson 159th/65.32. LWC 12th  team. Julian was disqualified 30 yards from the finish and Bill McLoughlan suffered a similar fate 3/4s of a mile from the end. A cynic might have a view on how this affected the team race!

Sadly I can’f find any photos of Alan in action and, as of now, I’m unsure of his whereabouts.

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2023: Health the First Wealth

Writing from Greece, the above is roughly translated as ‘May you have many good years’

A Happy and Healthy New Year to everyone at the club and beyond, who follow our website.


Tony Bell enjoying clearly race walking in the Millhouses Park Run on New Year’s Day
  1. Greg Smith 35:30 less 06:00 = 29:30

2. Tony Taylor 30:02 less 00:15 = 29:47

3. Marco Bernatzki 34:56 less 04:45 = 30:11(Guest)

4. John Crahan 37:32 less 07:15 = 30:17

5. Glyn Jones 35:50 less 05:15 = 30:35 (Guest)

6. Pat Evans 37:20 less 06:30 = 30:50

7. Roy Gunnett 36:10 less 05:00 =31:10

8. Phil McCullagh 39:22 less 07:30 = 31:52

9. Dave Evans 36:08 less 04:15 = 31:53

10. Martin Payne 34:41 less 02:30 = 32:11

11. Tony Bell 32:42 less 00:00 =32:42

12. Steven Wilde 39:38 less 05:30 =34:08

13. Steve Walker 38:13 less 03:15 = 34:58

A breezy Dam Flask reservoir where Marin Payne did his 5k

Thanks to everyone for mucking in despite the bitter weather and the conditions underfoot. Dave Evans took a tumble but after his effort not during! This caveat does not apply to a lucky beggar on Crete and to Stephen Walker in Portugal! Great to have Stephen back with us after his health issues. Plus a special mention for Mario over in Germany. And a later welcome to John Crahan, whose time was lost in the post.

A January Virtual 5 kilometres was already on the fixture list. Hence we will follow the same process this month. Clockings to be sent to Tony by midnight, Tuesday, January 31 at the latest. All being well a few days later we will be racing in reality at the Sam Shoebottom event.

Lancashire Walking Club New Year’s Day race 1910!!
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A Christmas Treat: George Larner’s 1909 Book on Race Walking

Thanks again to Tim Erickson we bring you a Xmas present in the form of a pdf of George Larner’s pioneering 1909 textbook on Walking.


In the London 1908 Olympics George Larner on his way to gold in the 3500 metre walk

In addition, Tim has put together this fascinating biography of the first Olympic Walking Champion.


Within the bio, Tim draws our attention to a lovely piece by Alan Buchanan, which first appeared in the Race Walking Record, of which Alan was an outstanding editor. This version appeared in Sussex Athletics under the title.’ THE ONLY SUSSEX DOUBLE OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST’.

Alan’s article begins:

At the 1908 London Olympics, George Larner of Brighton and County Harriers won the 3,500m Walk and the 10 miles Walk. Those distances were never raced again, so to this day Sussex has a club athlete who holds the two Olympic gold medals and the Olympic records.

I switched from running to race walking in 1966, encouraged by Arthur Jones, who two years later was selected for the 20km at the Mexico City Olympics, along with Brighton and Hove AC club mates Chris Carter (800m) and Andy Todd (4 x 400m relay). I worked for the Brighton and Hove Herald through the sixties and researched their archives at the time to write an article on George Larner for the Race Walking Record.

Although born in Berkshire in 1875, he took up walking with the club in 1903, aged 28 and soon showed an aptitude for the event, winning four AAA titles in the following couple of years, including nine world records. He was a Brighton Police Constable and soon found that his duties prevented him from serious walk training. The Chief Constable was made aware of this and in 1906 the County Borough of Brighton Watch Committee gave Larner special dispensation, to train for the London Olympic Games, which were to be held in 1908.

He ends on an unexpected note:

Few sportspersons can expect to have the honour of their name emblazoned on their local bus. When George Larner was born in 1875, there was no such thing as a motor car as we know it, let alone a double-decker bus. He, however, is celebrated on one of the Brighton & Hove buses, and is one of the only sportspersons and is the only athlete who rubs shoulders, metaphorically, with the great and good associated with the City.

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A December Virtual Five Kilometres plus A Slice of Italian and French Walking History

Following the unfortunate cancellation of the Dick Maxwell trophy race on December 3rd, it has been agreed that we organise a December Virtual 5 kilometres in addition to that envisaged for January. Both will count in the overall Club Handicap competition. Your December clockings should be sent to me at tonymtaylor@gmail.com by January 2nd at the latest. Weather allowing, this gives members three weeks to fit in a 5 kilometres blast, which should stand us in good stead for the longer challenges ahead. I’ll submit these to Dave Evans for the handicap adjustments and put up the result post-haste. Accompanying photos will be gratefully received.

Given our club’s proud history in the longer distances, I thought you might enjoy this brief extract from one of Alain Moulinet’s two books on ‘Le Longue Marche’

The Missed Appointments of Two Athletics Giants at the Olympics

Donato PAVESI and Florimond CORNET

After the unchallenged domination of British pedestrians at the beginning of the 20th century, the Azzura team established its world supremacy in the discipline, thanks to the many popular events organised at that time. It is particularly one of them, that one hundred years ago, on November 19, 1922, between Brescia and Milan, the ‘campionissimo’ Donato PAVESI (first walker under 10 hours on November 6, 1914, in 9:59:48) smashed his own World Best Performance in the 100km walk, clocking 9:51:37. Donato PAVESI unquestionably became, at the start of the 1920s, the world No. 1 in all the great international classics, such as London-Brighton (85km) and Manchester to Blackpool (83km), which allowed athletic walking to compete with cycling. into the hearts of the public and draw huge crowds to the roadside.

Also excellent over short distances, Donato PAVESI was, unfortunately, the victim during his two participations in the Olympic Games of the still very uncertain judgment of this discipline. In 1920 in Antwerp, in the 3000m, while fighting for second place in the home stretch, he was disqualified. On the second walking event of these Games, the 10000m, he was destabilized and slowed down by the incessant remarks of the judges. Having managed despite everything to finish 6th, he learns, as soon as he crosses the finish line, his disqualification! At the 1924 Paris Games, this Olympic curse pursued him: he narrowly failed for the bronze medal by finishing 4th. However, he ended his brilliant sporting career on the Milan track with a World Record for the 20,000m walk in 1h37’42”.

As athletic and slender as Donato PAVESI, the prodigy of French walking in the 1930s, Florimond CORNET, in turn, pulverized the Best World Performance of the 100km in 9h41’57’’, on May 9, 1937, in Montargis. Two weeks later, on May 22 and 23, 1937 on the selective East circuit in Paris-Strasbourg, he appropriated two other World Best Performances over the 200km in 21h58 ‘and the 24h with 216km460 to his credit. The following year, on July 10, 1938, in a 170km event (!!!) around Lake Geneva, which he won, he improved his 100km record in 9h39’05”. Then again, the following year, on June 25, 1939, on the occasion of the Bol D’or de Paris organized at the Aubervilliers stadium, he confirmed these extraordinary road times by setting the first World Record for the 100,000m track in 9:41:39. That year, he achieved a unique feat in the annals of walking: being crowned French Champion of the 50km twice in the two competing federations of the time, the U.F.M. and the F.F.A.

Indeed, in view of the brilliant results of the walkers of the French Walking Union one year before the Olympic Games scheduled for Helsinki, the French Athletics Federation proposed a merger agreement and temporarily accepted the joint participation of the walkers of these two sports entities at their respective championships. So much so that Florimond CORNET easily won the UFM 50km championship on May 8, 1939, in Metz, in 4h28’46” (Best French Performance) then, on July 23, less than a month later after his 100,000m track exploit, he doubled the lead by outclassing the FFA 50km championship in Colombes, in 4h35’03”. Unfortunately, the noise of boots at the end of the summer of 1939, ruined the Olympic hopes of the prodigy. Florimond CORNET. He was only 28 years old, the golden age for a walker……….

Both books are available on AMAZON



Unfortunately, as best I can see. they are only available in French!!!

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Dick Maxwell Memorial and Xmas 10km, December 3rd plus 2023 Fixture List

Dave Evans writes to alert us to the fast-approaching Dick Maxwell Memorial and Xmas 10-kilometres race to be held on Saturday, December 3rd at Simister, starting at 1.00 p.m.

Back in 2021 and back into the warmth!

We will be using our usual 10k course, out and back (twice)into Heaton Park. As the weather can be a factor we have moved away from the original ‘nightmare’ course and will now just race on the regular 10km course from our headquarters. Dave would appreciate it if all club members could confirm their availability by email at dave.evans08@hotmail.co.uk, indicating if they are walking or would be available to help with marshalling and any other tasks.

Not to be pessimistic but take account of Pat’s apparel!


Jan 1st-31stB5kVirtual 5k
Feb 4thB10kSam Shoebottom Trophy13:00Simister
Mar 4thB15kAlison Trophy13:00Chorley
Apr 1stB10 milesMacclesfield Shield13:00Macclesfield
Apr 15thGrand National
Apr 23rdBlackpool Marathon
May 6thB7 milesDave Crompton Memorial Trophy13:00Chorley
June 3rdFA Cup Final
June 10thB10k&5kTrack Walk R&Z Smith Trophy13:00Bury AC Track
June 18th5kPossible Horwich eventHorwich
July 1stB10kBarnard Trophy13:00Macclesfield
July 22ndB3x5kFred Pearce Trophy Relay13:00Simister
Aug 12thB10kGoodwin Cup13:00Chorley
???B100 milePossible Centurion 100 mile?MiddlesbroughSports Village Cycle Circuit or Colchester
Sep 2ndB1hJ Lambert and Ladies Trophy13:00Bury Track
Oct 7thB10kAlbert Rigby Shield13:00Macclesfield
Nov 4thB5kLancashire Walking Club AGM (116th)13:00Simister
Dec 2ndB10kDick Maxwell Mem. Race & Christmas H’cap13:00Simister
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RIP John Webb – one of the great stylists

Now and again I worry that my reminiscences are often rooted in the 60s and 70s but hope that they are still worthy of mention. Thus it falls to me to report the death of John Webb, universally recognised as one of the great stylists of his generation. Ironically, at our AGM, Glyn Jones and I were reflecting on the disappearance of the notion of ‘style’ from the race-walking lexicon. Back then many races would include a style prize and indeed the AAA 7 miles/10,000 metres track championship featured the coveted Fowler- Dixon style prize. I remember Paul Nihill being over the moon at receiving this honour, especially as his style differed from such greats as Matthews and Vickers. I should check this but I’m sure our own Ron Wallwork was also awarded this honour.

On a personal level, my dearest memory of John is him congratulating me generously at the end of a race-long tussle in the 1970 National 10 miles championship held in Kirkby. I managed to hold him off to finish sixth in 74:07 to his 74:19. Ahead of us, Ron was second to Wilf Wesch, clocking 72:13.

I heard first of his passing on the Portuguese website, O Marchador.

The British Olympic marcher John Albert Webb passed away last November 9, a victim of a prolonged illness, he counted 85 years old.

Webb, born in Dagenham, England, moved as an adult to Essex, an eastern county, where he represented Basildon Athletics Club. He was the first athlete from this club to participate in an Olympic Games, 1968 in Mexico, in the exciting 20 km walk won by the Soviet / Ukrainian Vladimir Golubnichiy, a test in which he was ranked twenty-second out of 34 competitors.

Among the eight international appearances by Great Britain of this inspiring athlete in the period between 1966 and 1972, the participation in the European Athletics Championships, in Budapest-1966 (13th, 20 km) and in Athens,1969 (8th, 20 km), and also at the Walking World Cup in Bad Saarow (Germany), in 1967 (8th, 20 km).

The “O Marchador” team sends heartfelt condolences to family, friends and the British racewalking community.

In this atmospheric photo of the start of the 1970 Metropolitan 20 kilometres. John is number 127

Whilst the Basildon Echo under the banner headline, Tributes pour in for legendary south Essex Olympian who passed away aged 85, featured a number of tributes.

Bob Hughes, who competed with John in the high-altitude cauldron of Mexico in 1968 commented, “He was one of the best guys you could wish to meet, Johnny Webb came to my wedding along with one or two other notable walkers, way back in November 1969. I had a few battles with and also suffered in a few races with him, but we always went back for more, sometimes taking turns to be the victors.

Paul Warburton, a former member of Southend-on-Sea Athletic Club, recalled how he was inspired to take up race walking by Mr Webb. “ He was the first racewalker I saw in the flesh. He used to train past the house each night. His passing is so very sad.

Sandra Brown, 73, a former international race walker who holds several world records, said: “John lived near the Bristol to Bath old railway path and said that he did all his training up and down that excellent recreational route.

1973 National 10 Miles

Roger himself comments:

Lovely man, Essex boy and loyal club man in the true sense. Competed 100% in races, ultra fair, lovely technique and great company. He turned me over more than once! RIP JW

And Greg Smith, our very own club secretary remembers fondly:

John Webb got me into race walking around the same time as Oliver Caviglioli and, like him, I have many warm memories of those days. From the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, the peak of John’s success as an athlete, race walking flourished at Basildon AC. Basildon walkers enjoyed great success at both age group and senior levels.

John was at the centre of that development, driving it on with his enormous enthusiasm and energy. He was an inspirational figure. John was keen to encourage others to share his passion for race walking, athletics and the outdoor, active life. John was a sparky, good-humoured character: talking with him, you never quite knew where the conversation would go next. He had a generous outlook and a strong sense of fairness.

The Sunday morning group training sessions with John from Phil Everard’s bungalow in Crays Hill stand out in my memory. We timed our sessions by the garage clock at the top of the hill and afterwards drank tea in the Everards’ kitchen. The talk could range from training niggles and what was in this week’s Athletics Weekly to the bigger issues of the day. As John’s son Harry reminded us in his eulogy at the funeral last week, John was a man of firm principles. When invited to compete for Britain in apartheid-era South Africa, John very publicly refused.

I learned a lot from John, not just about race walking. For me, he lit a fire that still burns. He will be missed but not forgotten.

I’ll leave the last word to Oliver Caviglioli, who in the late 60s was well-known and admired in Lancashire circles, not least for the fluency of his action. His great rival in the Youth ranks was our very own Steve Crow. In 1967 Olly. as he was known, won the National Youth 3 miles championship at Worsley in 23:01 with Steve second in 23:35. Both passed through 1 mile in 7:10 before Olly pulled away.

John Webb was my hero. And remained so. As a 13-year-old, I was awestruck by the upright, athletic-looking man in a GB tracksuit. He was friendly and soon invited you into the world of international athletics, introducing the leading contenders here and in Europe. He named his dog, Abdon (Pamich). As you might guess from this, he was playful. During our runs in the woods, he used to play a game of submission. If I accepted a branch he offered me, I was defeated. To decline it would result in another 5 minutes of searing pace.

His technique was superb. When, later, I had the opportunity to witness the leading race walkers from Europe, I still thought none matched John’s upright, athletic and always safe mode of progression. His running style, by contrast, was a rangy, bouncy affair. On occasions he mixed both in a training session, switching from road walking to cross-country running — and all with no notice of the changes, as I struggled to keep up and understand quite what was happening.

He was his own man, starting his day at 6:00 am with 30 minutes of reading his beloved Charles Dickens before setting off to run to work at the centre for adults with learning difficulties. Years later when I learned that my firstborn had Down syndrome, John was one of the first people I telephoned. His was the perfect, yet totally unexpected, reply: “some of my best friends have Downs Syndrome!” I feel honoured to have known John, and during my daily walks through the self-same woods we used to run through, I think of him every time.


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The ‘Adrian Edwards’ AGM

Dave Evans calls the meeting to order

Chaired impeccably by Dave Evans, minutes taken diligently by Tony Bell, our Annual General Meeting was dominated by one figure. Unsurprisingly this was the always unassuming Adrian Edwards, whose courageous feat in becoming a Centurion was hailed by Eric Horwill as one of the gutsiest he had ever witnessed. And Eric has competed in and officiated at more long-distance events than probably anyone else in the country. His praise means a lot. Marking this remarkable achievement Adrian collected both the Cliff Royle and AJ Taylor trophies. In addition, he was presented with the priceless Centurions’ certificate. of membership by Eric and Martin Fisher, the present Centurions’ President. Everyone was unanimous in their respect for Adrian’s endeavour. Believe it or not, word has it that he has his sights set on further long-distance challenges. To round matters off Adrian was elected to be the Club’s President for 2022/2023.

Adrian, Eric and Martin

In a much-appreciated gesture Sailash Shah on behalf of himself, Adrian and Martin Payne, our trio of competitors at Middlesborough, presented Dave and Pat Evans, alongside Roy Gunnett with bottles of wine in tribute to their unstinting support across a wind-swept and rain-battered 24 hours. The nectar in question was ‘Chateau de Neuf Pape’, described as having ‘a spiced black fruit aroma and a velvety warm palate’. One detects Sailash’s knowledgeable hand in this elegant choice. Bravo!

Elsewhere in the meeting, Dave spoke to his Chairperson’s report, offering his condolences to John Payn for the loss of his dear wife, Flo and to Martin Fisher on the passing of his redoubtable father, whilst Joe Hardy was thanked for his sojourn as President and Roy Gunnett calmed our nerves with his Treasurer’s update. Our books are balanced but the demands of subscriptions to English Athletics and the Northern Area means an increase in our annual subscription to 20 pounds – still a snip.

Wonderful to see John Payn, Judith Fisher and Christine Pearce, sitting between Eric and Pat

Tony Malone, backed by Chris Harvey, launched an interesting discussion around the case for a Sunday morning race as one of our club fixtures. In the end, it was agreed that we should consider such an inclusion in 2023/2024, possibly using Woodbank Park as a venue. Flowing out of this debate we touched upon whether nurturing a closer relationship with an athletics club, for example, Stockport Harriers would be to our benefit, increasing our visibility and hopefully attracting new blood.

Thanking folk for their generous comments regarding the club website, I revealed that I wanted to revive the series, wherein individuals shared their memories of how they got into race walking, their favourite races and their best performances. I will be getting in touch with members in the coming months to see if they are happy to be involved.

On a personal and indulgent note, I informed the meeting that the coming year would be my 70th since my first race as a six-year-old in 1953. Thus, all being well, I intend, at the very least, to be on the starting line at the Fred Pearce Relay in July and hope that there will be faces. past and present, in attendance. Watch this space.

Both Martins, Steven, Phil and company anxiously await Dave’s announcement of the course for the Xmas Handicap!

As the meeting closed Dave informed the gathering that the Dick Maxwell Xmas 10km race will not be held on the notorious ‘Nightmare’ course. The collective sense of relief was palpable.

Thanks to Roy Gunnett for the photos.

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