Colin Young – one of the great Race Walking characters, never to be forgotten [1935 – 2019]

Colin Young’s reputation and influence crossed all borders, regional, national and international. Certainly he was held in great affection by all those members of Lancashire Walking Club, who knew him and were motivated by him. If Colin happened to be a spectator few walkers passed him by without a insightful word of advice or stirring encouragement. One great mystery, given his long-distance exploits, is why he never competed in our club’s classic Manchester-Blackpool?

Guy Goodair informs us : Colin [203] in full flow in National 20 miles at Sheffield (others in pic are Ken Mason, John Moullin, Dickie Green, Bob Farley, me and John Eddershaw

Len Ruddock – Allez Jung! – My tribute to Colin Young.

I joined Ilford A.C. in 1969 as an aspiring mile runner and soon switched to race walking due to the enthusiasm and encouragement of this particular select band of athletes in the club and this opened up the wider vibrant world of Race Walking.
I didn’t know Colin in these early days as my main competition was in the Youth and Junior ranks but I always enjoyed the open races for all-comers and that’s where I would’ve seen Colin in action. I became aware of his reputation and incredible distance credentials through the pages of, Athletics Weekly’ and ‘The Essex Walker’ and listening to others in the sport. Competing abroad was to me something that others did but here was Colin not only doing so but also winning, amongst others, 100km and 24 hour races. Then came the staggering feats of the Strasbourg to Paris 512km (or thereabouts) race.
In 1971, my club-mate, coach and mentor, Roger Mills organised a trip to Mantes in Normandy. En-route, we were able to catch the early stages of the Rouen 28 Hours with Colin at the head of the bunch, which included Brighton & Hove’s Dave Boxall and our club-mate, Steve King. That first racing trip to France for me revealed the greater enthusiastic support that there is in their sporting culture. The appreciation that ‘Les Marcheurs’ were athletes above all. It was the first time that I heard the shout, “Allez Jung!”
In 1972, I was honoured to be invited to join the support team for Colin for the Strasbourg-Paris. My co-‘soigneurs’, Reg Wells and team-mate, Tony Perkins had been with Colin for the previous year’s event when he finished a close 3rd to the great Josy Simon of Luxembourg. It had come with a physical cost in the blazing heat but had enhanced his reputation as a gutsy competitor particularly in France which I was about to discover in ’72. It was an amazing week and the 3 1/2 days of the race, for this 19 year old left an indelible impression. ‘Fandom’ is a modern definition of what I experienced. As the race progressed, we were joined by increasing numbers who just wanted to be part of Colin’s entourage, even during those long nights.
Colin liked his jazz music and was a great cycling fan which rubbed off on me and those intricacies of, ‘Le Tour’ was explained. He had the knack of ‘reading the runes.’ Give him a race result and even better with time-splits, he would paint a verbal picture of the event putting flesh onto the bones. He was an avid reader, so maybe from N.U.T.S. colleagues and possibly L’Equipe and La Gazzetta dello Sport provided the leads. With this information, he would always be popping up with some interesting result or tracking the form of certain athletes or cyclist. I remember that he picked out the rise of a certain Said Aouita way before he became a great middle distance champion. An inspirational motivator was Colin. On a British Race Walkers’ Club weekend, he had an ongoing audience by reading snippets during the weekend from Ron Hill’s memoir about the day of his Olympic marathon.
To train with Colin was great. He knew how to push you and when to encourage. Occasionally, on those tiring longer distance sessions, his ‘race commentary’ would run like, ‘The lights of the Olympic stadium are on…only a few kilometres to go…as he looks behind, ‘…’ can see Pamich/Hohne/Golubnichy (take your pick) trying to close the gap’….etc,etc……
Colin was a long-term contributor to the well respected, ‘Athletics Weekly’ and this period was of course, well before the digital age. He was always dedicated in getting his reports in by the copy deadline. This often resulted in late Sunday trips to central London to catch the last post. During his era, I believe Race Walking owed a debt of gratitude to his journalistic skills which raised RW’s profile and respect from amongst the wider athletic community.
Apart from once beating Roger Mills in a game of squash, my next best feat of my modest sporting career, was passing Colin at 43km in the 1975 National 50Km Champs., which we both acknowledged with a nod. He often would refer to Paul Nihill as, ‘The Guv’nor’ but to me this slight man with a big heart was often entitled to be called, ‘The Master.’

Colin in a long-distance track race. Where? When?

Chris Maddock – RIP Colin Young, British ultra-distance walks legend 1935-2019. Utmost respect for this inspirational man. Grabbing me by the shoulders as was his want whenever we met, if he talked, I listened. Believe it was at the 2012 Olympic luncheon when, in his opinion he said I ranked 5th all-time of British race walkers; Paul Nihill was his No 1. I nodded an appreciative smile; what more could I do? He also asked me to guess what he considered was my best race. After a few wrong attempts, he said, “New York Marathon 1989″…mostly because of the great walkers I beat that day. Colin had an encyclopedic knowledge for sports names. Another fond memory was his words during and after the 1983 World Cup 50kms. During the race his tough shouting inspired me to finish 9th with a new GB record of 4.02.37. Afterwards he said I should’ve gone sub 4. He was right of course. RIP Colin. Proud to have been a friend.

Rob Lambie – RIP Colin Young . I was first introduced to Colin on my early visits to England from Guernsey when racing in the late 1970s . He told me about my fellow Guernsey walkers that had made a name for themselves in England, even talking about other island athletes from other disciplines. I was fortunate, amongst others, to be in his company at Mezidon in 1999 for the World race walking event. I took away many stories of his long distance exploits. One meal time he started talking about the weekends races and came out with recent times from around the world, scribbled on bits of paper, which in those days would have been harder to find than now with the internet.
He confidently predicted a 50 Kms win for Korepanov. He was right. Walking around the course watching , he seemed to draw the attention of many, young and old and from various countries, talking with them like long lost friends and sometimes in their language. I can picture Colin now, back in the 70s early 80 at National Championships, training , going in reverse direction , shouting encouragement to all.

Steve Uttley -Very sad news. I lived in Ilford, less than a mile from Colin from 1980 for around 25 years and trained with Colin a couple of times a week, including many 2 hour plus Sunday spins. I was just about to call him before Christmas when I heard the news. I shall miss him as will many others I’m sure. His enthusiasm was contagious and his knowledge second to none.

Francisco Reis – The loss of Colin is very sad and painful but the loss of a friend like Colin is even harder. Colin was a great supporter of myself since I arrived in this country in 1984. He gave me the motivation to restart racing again as a master athlete. Every time when we met Colin always had to whisper in my ear ( race harder and harder ). I will never forget the great man and great athlete Colin Young.
Thanks for everything, rest in peace,

Alan Buchanan – Colin was Race Walking in England . He knew everyone when our event was at its most popular and was much respected as an ultra distance walker and scribe whose knowledge was second to none. RIP

Oliver Caviglioli – I remember, as a youngster, going to Colin’s house for a training session followed by tea. The training session was fun as I witnessed Colin slalom, race walking style, through the evening commuters as they left the local tube stations. He was also so very encouraging. Although my race walking career only lasted my teenage years, I retained a lasting sense of the values of Colin and fellow Beagle—my coach—Phil Everard. Their integrity and sense of fairness have remained with me ever since. Furthermore, Colin’s undiminished enthusiasm has inspired me throughout my own non-athletics career. I should mention another aspect some of you might not know about Colin. For a short while, he worked with Phil Everard, the manager, of an Adult Training Centre for people with learning difficulties. At a time when such people were excluded pretty much from society, those who worked in this field were more caring than most. I witnessed Colin relating to all in the same respectful and friendly fashion.

John ‘Paddy’ Dowling – Colin was a trail blazer he was more continental than the French, and they loved him, and I did. May his God hold him in the hollow of His Hand. Colin and Amos Seddon helped me out in the 1970 Strasbourg/Paris, when my feet were lacerated. Colin finished a gutsy third, tho I could see him fading.

Guy Goodair – Sad News – First got to know Colin after I was 2nd to him on the inaugural IOM TT Walk. Then a memorable trip in 1968 with Colin, Pat Duncan (all 6’ 7” of him) my wife Judith and I – we flew to Zurich, hired a Fiat 500 and drove to Prague, for the Prague to Podebrady 50km race. We spent hours at the border crossing whilst the car was searched (both ways in fact, in case we were trying to smuggle someone in or out – fat chance in that car) We arrived in Prague hours after our anticipated time to find Ivo Domansky patiently waiting for us, and it was on this trip Colin first met Eva, his future wife.
We got out of Czechoslovakia just days before the Russian tanks came into Prague to overthrow Dubcek’s Spring Uprising.
Colin’s knowledge of the sport was phenomenal and he knew most people’s PBs
He always greeted me with ‘4hr 30min 57sec – only 19secs behind the great Harold’
(A reference to my 50km PB as against Olympic champion Harold Whitlock’s.

Geoff Hunwicks – He had ‘a hand’ in me getting a junior international against France in a full track ‘n field meet in 1969!

John Paddick – Race Walker Colin Young – An incredible individual and top man!

Dougie Corkill – Just to echo everyone’s warm words. Very sad. Eagerly awaiting AW in the post, then straight to Colin Young’s Walking Commentary. Superb. Was with Colin In Mezidon for World Cup. And up till about 5 years ago we had a monthly chat on the phone. Fabulous – made me feel very Special. l sent him a Christmas card this year with one of my BORING comments. I will never forget Colin. Great man and Inspiration.

Martin Young – Colin won the first three Isle of Man TT Open Walks. Adding on my father’s 6 wins (3 double wins), mine was the last Young to be added to the list. Although not related, having the same surname makes you sit up and notice as a kid. Colin was a legend, certainly in my eyes, and I was proud to add the Young name to that trophy back in ’92. RIP.

Graham Jackson – Really sad news. Good friend to our family, my dad, Denis learnt a lot from his advice. RIP Colin.

Emmanuel Tardi – So sad to hear. He was a great walker.
I remember that we walked together in European Road Masters championship in 2005 in Portugal. I was 35 … and he was 70! RIP Colin.

Greg Smith – Was sad to hear of Colin Young’s passing. He walked for Essex Beagles, as did Phil Everard, who coached me in the 1960s when I was a member of Basildon AC. In 1968  in the Essex Long Distance Walking Championship (a point-to-point race from Romford to Southend) I rode a bike behind Colin with a bucket and sponge and his drinks and salt tablets. He said I was to act as his “soigneur”, a new word to me. Turned out that Colin was also a cycling fan and followed the Tour de France through the pages of L’Equipe.
As someone said in Athletics Weekly, he had this extraordinary knowledge  — he was the Professor of Race Walking. About 10 years ago there was a gathering to mark the 500th (and last) Essex Walking League race. I went down to Lea Valley cycle track to do the race. Afterwards I chatted with Colin (it was about 25 years since we’d last met). He looked at me for a moment and said, “You must have been pleased to beat Tony Malone at Horwich last month”. I was staggered that he could call up that detail, especially as he had no idea I would be at Lea Valley that day. And he was right, I have raced against Tony Malone on and off since the 1960s and it was one of the very few times that I managed to beat him!

Dave Evans – Despite the fact that I never knew Colin’s Race Walking background I met him on a train in the London area many years ago after realising he was coaching one of my great running heroes Mel Batty, once world 10 mile record holder. A mild mannered gentlemen whose own performances were unknown to me was great company and now I wish I had known his standing in the race walking community. Another legend but pleased to have made his acquaintance.

Tony Taylor – I remember back in the late 60s crossing fingers that the AW with Colin’s colourful Race Walking column, exuding his love for and knowledge of the sport, would arrive to be devoured on a Friday evening in front of the fire. And then, as I began to travel South for races, I was always overwhelmed by the warmth of his welcome and the encouragement he gave to this young Lancashire lad of the time. Truly one of race walking’s greats.


An excellent tribute to Colin by Tim Erickson is to be found in the December 2019 issue of the Australian ‘Heel and Toe newsletter

Tim includes a fascinating report on the famous 1960 24 Hour Track Walk at Walton-on-Thames, where Colin finished a magnificent second with 131 miles 327 yards to Hughie Neilson’s remarkable world record of 133 miles 121 yards.

If you would like to add any comments to this page, please send them to Tony at

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A Sombre New Year Opens with an Uplifting Team Victory

I must first apologise for the lack of an inspiring New Year’s message. A combination of serious family illness and severe issues with our internet connection have meant a topsy-turvy opening to 2020. And as a committed European citizen living in Greece, yet deeply critical of the European Union, I can but be dismayed by Brexit. Hence I will not be dancing in the streets next Friday, along with Boris Johnson and less than half of a disUnited Kingdom.

Politics aside it’s been also a sad period for British race walking. We’ve lost stalwarts of our sport, Colin Young, Edwin Grocott, Jill Langford and John Creo in the last few weeks. So too Eric and Pam Horwill, the epitome of selfless support to our sport in general and to Lancashire Walking Club itself despite their proud Midlands heritage, are coping with the tragic illness of their eldest daughter, Jennifer. I know that all of us at the club hold them dearly in our thoughts.

All of the above would be among the first to say that life must go on. Thus the first of the New Year’s fixtures took place today at Drighlington today, January 26 and I’m grateful as ever to Trevor McDermot for this prompt report and photos. As this year’s President I am really chuffed that we supported the race and for our efforts won the first trophy of 2020.

Yorkshire RWC Club 10km Road – Drighlington, 26th Jan

Natalie Myers was away sharply from the start and, moving very well in the rain, led the field home by a good margin.

Lancashire WC won the team race from the host club. Thank you all who supported this morning.

1 – Natalie Myers (2DASH) – 55.05

2 – Adrian Edwards (Lancs WC) – 59.42

3 – Dave Walsh (Redhill RR) – 59.54

4 – Colin Scott (Yorks RWC) – 61.01

5 – Tony Malone (Lancs WC) – 61.01

6 – Tony Bell (Lancs WC) – 65.54

7 – Graham Jackson (Northern M) – 66.13

8 – Dennis Jackson (Yorkshire RWC) – 66.14

9 – Neil Armitage (Yorkshire RWC) – 71.07

10 – Phil McCullagh (Lancs WC) – 71.16

11 – Mark Byrne (Redcar RWC) – 76.06

5km – Richard Cole (Yorkshire RWC) 37.40

Adrian leading the way

Team (4 to score)

1 – Lancashire WC – 23 pts

2 – Yorkshire RWC – 33 pts

Phil supporting races far and wide

This was the initial event for a new Northern Race Walking League that will run annually from this year. Next will be the Area 20km Champs at Douglas, IoM, on Feb 22nd (closing date for entries Feb 18th), followed by the Ken Munro Trophy 10 Miles (Scotland v Lancashire v Yorkshire) + 3km races, Guests allowed, at Dalton, North Yorks on 29th March.

A detailed League programme and fixture list will be finalised and circulated in three weeks.

Thanks to Linda McDermot for the photos

Looking forward to the first club race of the season, the Sam Shoebottom 10k at Simister on February 8th. Very much hoping to see you there.

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Yorkshire RWC Xmas Walks – 8th December 2019 – Kirkby Fleetham

Yorkshire RWC Xmas Walks – 8th December 2019 – Kirkby Fleetham

Trevor McDermot reports:

Pictured below are Denis Jackson, RWA Hon. Secretary Colin Vesty and RWA President Helen Elleker as they approach halfway during the Xmas Walks at Kirkby Fleetham. There were many puddles around those country lanes.

On behalf of Linda and myself, sincere thanks to everyone who travelled so far to attend on a blustery, wet, sunny day (with the odd rainbow thrown in) , to Alan Brooks for arranging the awards, and to our officials and helpers who made sure that the event proceeded nicely.

Very well done to Kim Forbes who travelled all the way from Edinburgh for her first ever race walk. I was chatting to her husband and, to my delight , suddenly realised that it was ex-800m international Paul Forbes.

Sheltering before the start

Everyone took at least one spot prize, including Adrian Edwards who had taken on an arduous Sunday journey via public transport to get there in time for the ensuing Area AGM.

Lancashire’s festive Phil McCullagh in his second race of the weekend

Our best wishes go to departing Yorkshire RWC President and stalwart walking official Russ Jackson and wife Jean who leave our shores for good shortly. A moving letter of support, advice and encouragement from Russ was read out in his absence.

At an impromptu club committee meeting later –   Marion Fawkes was nominated and accepted that role as his successor.


1 –  Natalie Myers  (2DASH)  60.14

2 – Graham Jackson (Northern Masters)  61.32

3 – Helen Elleker  (2DASH)  64.55

4 – Colin Vesty  (Leicester WC) 65.08

5 – Denis Jackson (Yorkshire RWC) 65.34

6 – Neil Armitage (Yorkshire RWC) 68.27

7 – Phil McCullagh  (Lancashire WC) 70.54

8 – Mark Byrne (Redcar RWC)  80.27



1 – Colin Scott (Yorkshire RWC) 31.43

2 – Kim Forbes (Scots Vets) 36.00

3 – Alan Brooks (Yorkshire RWC) 37.40  

Officials –  Sailash Shah, Peter + Marion Fawkes, Izzy Wilkinson, Melva Steckles, Rita Peacock, Linda + myself

Kind regards and wishing a Happy Festive season to all

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Dave Evans reports:

Cheer up, Dave, it’s Xmas!

Weatherwise a good day for racing with the threat of rain impending but not released until much later in the evening.

Martin Fisher leading the way

Several regulars were missing through transport difficulties, injury and other calls on their time, however, those who did toe the starting line were keen to contest the last race of the calendar year.  Martin Fisher, one of our regular visitors from Yorkshire, set the standard for the competition and quickly established a minute plus lead as the field rounded the halfway point with 5k to go. Posting a midway time of 29 minutes 47 Martin was set for sub 60 time with Tony Bell some 82 seconds adrift. Sailash Shah, as keen as ever, tracked Tony and set off for the second half hard on his heels. Further down the field Joe Hardy was slip streaming Pat Evans with both arriving at the turnaround at about 35 minutes. Phil McCullagh cruised through the same point over a minute later with Roy Gunnett carrying a thigh strain and clearly walking in a very controlled manner.

Andrea Lennon brightening up the day

Andrea Lennon and John Payn opted for the shorter 5k alternative on the day and both were rewarded with decent times. As Pat was handling the catering for the race day she also went for Option B leaving the final 5k lap to 6 others.

Tony Bell and Sailash Shah under close scrutiny!

Martin picked up some time on the second section of the course and pulled even further away from Tony but both walked well technically . Sailash was unable to maintain his very fast early pace and left Tony to gain second place ahead of him. Joe walked consistently whilst Phil McCullagh did a negative split. Roy was told by his physio to go easy on his injured thigh so his time reflects his deference rather than his true fitness.

Final results:-

1. Martin Fisher    59:30
2. Tony Bell            61:44
3. Sailash Shah     62:01
4. Joe Hardy          70:48
5. Phil McCullagh  71:40
6. Roy Gunnett      77 :27

1. Pat Evans            35:03
2. Andrea Lennon 42:28
3. John Payn           48:08

Apres-race there seems to be a lack of festive cheer. As a Wiganer I presume the pies hadn’t yet been served!

 After recovering from their efforts the 9 walkers and helpers (marshals, timekeepers and recorders) retired to the school premises and feasted on a selection of hot pies and sweet sundries including a very tasty M & S Christmas cake supplied by our president Tony Taylor who whilst not in the UK on the day, promised to match our walkers with a 10k fast walk in his Cretan retreat. Another club walk in the bank and everyone will look forward to the Sam Shoebottom 10k next year on 8th February.

A Happy Christmas to all club members and their families and Good Health, the first Wealth.

Thanks to Greg Smith for the revealing photos. Much appreciated.

Roy Gunnett’s report and detailed results.

Nine walkers lined up for the start of the Dick Maxwell Trophy at Sinister. Six elected to walk the full 10K whilst three opted for the 5k.
The weather was good for December, mild with little wind.
Guest walker Martin Fisher led from the gun to the finish, walking strongly throughout, achieving a Sub-Hour result.
Behind Martin, Tony Bell and Sailash fought closely for the majority of the race with Tony pulling away towards the end.
Phil McCullagh adopted his normal tactic of negative splits, gaining time in the second half on the third placed Joe Hardy.
After the race Pat Evans served the traditional pie and mushy peas-greatly appreciated by all. The traditional appearance of the Secret Santa concluded the day.


Information in the bracket indicates h’cap allowance; h’cap time; h’cap position; h’cap points and age-graded performance.

  • 1. Martin Fisher M55 Redcar RWC 59: 30 (1:30; 58:00; Guest; 75.26%
  • 2. Tony Bell M55 LWC 61: 44 (6:30; 55:14; 2; 24; 71.88%)
  • 3. Sailash Shah M55 LWC 62: 01 (14:00; 48:0l; l; 25; 70.93%)
  • 4. Joe Hardy M75 LWC 70:48 (12:15; 58: 33; 3; 23; 77.71%)
  • 5. Phil McCullagh LWC M60 71:40 (12:15; 59: 25; 4; 22; 65.58%)
  • 6. Roy Gannett M70 LWC 77: 27 (8:45; 68:42; 5; 21; 68.18%)


Information in the bracket indicates h’cap points and age-graded performance.

  • 1. Pat Evans W65 LWC 35;03 (20; 75.98%)
  • 2. Andrea Lennon W75 LWC 42:28 (19; 74.44%)
  • 3. John Payn M85 LWC 48:08 [18: 79.24%)

PS Tony Taylor failed to live up to his pledge suffering, he claims. from a bad cold and cough. He’s always been a bit of a hypochondriac! He now promises to do his parallel 10k on December 21st.


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The President implores you to support the Dick Maxwell and Xmas Handicap on December 7, 2019

Would you believe it? Singing the imploring Benjamin Britten arrangement of the folk song ‘Heel and Toe’ at the weekend. Very high-brow!


As ever we’re hoping for a great turnout at our annual Xmas race at Simister on December 7th, 1.30 p.m. start as usual. Please note the following.

After intense lobbying of the Chair, together with flooding caused by the climate crisis, we will not be using the Nightmare course. Sighs of relief all round!

As is tradition Pat Evans will be providing the post-race ‘pie ‘n’ peas’. To help the arrangements please let us know as soon as possible whether you will be with us or not – to Dave/Pat at or Tony at This is all the more necessary as Dave and Pat are away from home in the week preceding the race.

Continuing the traditional theme everyone is asked to bring along a present costing no more than £5 to go into Santa’s Sack.

As the year draws to a close it’s a good time to remind all members that the annual subscription is due.

Having done my imploring I have to confess that I can’t make it, but I’ll be with you in spirit on Crete. I promise to do a 10k that very afternoon followed by a cup of tea and a mince pie. Photographic evidence will be provided.

Yours truly in more familiar guise at the AGM 5k

Thanks to Derek Biddle of the White Mountains Cycling Group [Crete] and our very own Greg Smith for the photos.

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Atmospheric Upper Torsos in the Bill Jackson Trophy race!

Grateful thanks to Greg Smith for a string of excellent photos taken at the entrance into and exit from Heaton Park during the Bill Jackson and AGM 5k race.

By way of an atmospheric change find below some of the upper torso images he captured.

Sailash speechless, a rare event!
A grimacing Joe Hardy
Pat Evans prepared for the worst
Ian Hilditch, less than his cheery self
Roy Gunnett in fetching turquoise gloves
Tony Bell oblivious to the elements
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It’s a real shame this is the day after our Xmas Handicap, but it’s well worth getting up for! Beautiful village, excellent course and a warm welcome assured.

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