Sadly the Sarnia stalwart, Mick Elliott has died. Many of the old hands at our club will have raced against Mick in the 1970s. Rob Elliott, his son, an outstanding race walker in his own right, has penned these touching thoughts.
It saddens me to report that my dad and race walker Mick Elliott passed away peacefully after a short illness this weekend at the age of 83 years. A race walker at his best in the 1970s he was my training companion, amongst others in my early years. He supported me in my race walking from when I started as an 11 year old. He was also a competitor in my races and then a supporter as I hit my best, feeding me in races and holding me when I needed it at the end of races and always ready with the stopwatch for split times. Rest in Peace, Dad.
Mick Elliott 1937 – 2021
The Elliott surname has long been associated with race walking in Guernsey and the Sarnia Walking Club and I am saddened to report that Mick Elliott, who started it all off in 1969 has passed away peacefully after a short illness in York at the age of 83 years old.
Micks first race was in the 1969 Church to Church walk over 19.4 miles when he finished the course in over 4 hours. He was a late starter to the sport at the age of 32 years when he progressed to Sarnia Walking Club novice events and the Inter Firms 3 miles walk where he finished second.
Within a few years he achieved 7 miles per hour with a 57 minute clocking and reduced his Church time to 3 hours 1 minute when finishing 3rd in 1972. With hard work improvement came quickly and within another two years was Sarnia number one, taking the Club Championship in 1974 and leading the club to victory at the popular Chippenham to Calne 6 miles road walk in 7th place overall in a high quality race. A further two years as Club Champion followed.
Happier at distances up to 20 kilometres and Mick was hard to beat for those years, but came unstuck at anything longer and although able to hold the leader to halfway faltered over the final stages in anything longer, such as the Church and West Show 20 miles walk.
He achieved personal best times of 1 mile 7.00, 2 miles 14.24, 3 miles 22.16, 6 miles 45.26, 7 miles 53.30, 10 miles 76.57, 20 kms 101.10, 19.4 miles Church to Church 2.56.25, 20 miles 3.03.08.
Despite a personal best time of 2.56.25 for the Church Walk he has never won it and had to settle for a best position of 2nd.
In 1976 the Sarnia Walking Club went back to England for the “Garnet” 10 miles walk. The team finished 4th with Mick Elliott finishing third individually in a time of just over 80 minutes.
Racing until his early 50s he walked on and off over the following years, helping out his son Rob and taking up the judging of local walks.
Son Rob continues in the sport this present day. Youngest son Mark also raced for many years. His other children Ian and Kate have also raced at times in their younger days as well as some of his grandchildren.
STOP PRESS : Times for the FEBRUARY CLUB VIRTUAL 3K to be submitted by midnight, March 3.
As he circulates these latestVirtual League results John Constandinou is in an optimistic frame of mind. He comments:
The sun is out and things are looking up. Real outdoor racing can begin again on 29th March in England along with being able to travel around the country freely. The virtual league will still be continuing though until everything returns to normal. It was a great race this week, with only one point dividing the top teams. Well done everybody. Keep racing, stay fit, and have fun – see you all again next week!
Certainly we are wondering about when we might reawaken being alive together. Watch this space for our thoughts about when we might resuscitate the club calendar.
Virtual League Racing Series – Race 47
MENS AGE GRADED 2KM TEAM 1 Lancashire Walking Club (83.11%) 2 Birchfield Harriers (80.07%) 3= South West Veterans AC (74.10%) 3= Manx Harriers (74.10%) 5 Quickstep Fitness (71.61%) 6 Maidenhead AC (70.53%) 7 Steyning AC (60.09%) – USA (57.60%) 8 Surrey Walking Club (50.51%) 9 Leicester Walking Club (45.05%) 10 Sarnia Walking Club (44.03%) 11 Stratford-upon-Avon AC (40.59%) 12 Ilford AC (38.40%)
MENS 2KM TEAM 1 Birchfield Harriers (38) 2 Manx Harriers (39) 3 Lancashire Walking Club (57) 4 Quickstep Fitness (60) 5 South West Veterans AC (67) 6 Maidenhead AC (113)- USA (165) 7 Surrey Walking Club (172) 8 Steyning AC (192) 9 Stratford-upon-Avon AC (218) 10 Leicester Walking Club (220) 11 Sarnia Walking Club (221) 12 Ilford AC (230)
My President’s Report was circulated to the membership as an integral part of the 2020 AGM papers. Obviously the AGM could not be held. In this light a few people and Glyka, my adoring dog, have suggested posting it separately as a reflection upon the unusual times our club and our sport are enduring.
Back in November 2019, my Presidential year got off to a promising start. Whilst the AGM was tinged with sadness as we viewed the seat left vacant by the still painful loss of Fred Pearce, Dave Evans’ address painted a picture of cautious optimism. Following in the recent footsteps of Fred and Christine Pearce I was honoured to be President, sixty-seven years after my first appearance at a club race held at the Hindley Green Labour Club in 1953. I was amazed as well to find myself winning a yacht handicap from scratch – one for my record books.
When I made my next appearance on English soil at the Sam Shoebottom 10 kilometres in February positive feelings still prevailed. We were supporting races across the Pennines and had kicked off the year with a team victory at Drighlington, featuring Adrian Edwards, Tony Malone, Tony Bell and Phil McCullagh. Following Andrea Lennon’s nailbiting triumph at Simister in the Sam Shoebottom event, Dave Evans spoke of the tremendous boost to morale, provided by Adrian’s organisation of much-needed indoor training. Pat Evans was as ever a reassuring presence on the road and in the canteen. A few weeks later new recruit Martin Payne conquered the Chorley hills, although sadly we were bidding farewell to the St. Peter’s club, which through the good offices of Eric and Dave Crompton had become a home from home. With an alternative Chorley venue in the pipeline, all seemed well.
Then, dramatically, out of the blue, whether from heaven above or a Chinese laboratory, the Covid virus and the government’s bungled response to its emergence have transformed our day-to-day existence. The early April Macclesfield Shield 10 miles was postponed, then cancelled. Since then despite a serious effort led by Roy Gunnett to mount the Albert Rigby 10km in October, frustrated by Covid-demanded alterations at the venue, all of our 2020 fixtures have been postponed and ultimately cancelled.
In the face of such a depressing scenario, a measure of relief was afforded via an invaluable intervention by Andy Drake on behalf of the National Centre for Race Walking. He came up with the notion of a Virtual Series of races to be held throughout April and May, the distance to be covered progressing from 2 to 5 km. Inspired by this intervention John Constandinou and Helen Elleker created a complementary 2 km Virtual Series, which continues until this very day. Not to be outdone we ourselves initiated our own club Virtual Series beginning in May with a 3 km challenge.
Undoubtedly these Virtual Series have thrown a significant lifeline to the sport, prodding us to keep training, never mind prompting us, albeit sometimes reluctantly, to fit in a fast session each week. It would be invidious to highlight any particular individual performances by our members, given that these are in essence time trials, not judged and completed on different courses. Nevertheless, from a collective point of view, our club should be proud of its conspicuous support for these psychologically important ventures. Indeed in the very first of the National Centre Series, we finished 2nd team behind Surrey in both the Open and the Age-graded categories and we’ve continued to be at the head of events ever since. In the 2k Series, across a period of 30 weeks, we have been the dominant Age-graded team, a model of consistency. Speaking of consistency, it would be amiss not pay tribute to both Guy Goodair and Tony Bell for their commitment to the cause across the last six months and more. As best I can see Guy has not missed a single week and established himself as the foremost competitor in the over 80s age group.
Closer to home our own Club Series has been enlivened by the attention of athletes from other clubs and countries. We’ve appreciated enormously the enthusiastic involvement of the Scotia Race Walking Club, courtesy of Bill McFadden’s endeavours. It has ensured that we’ve had a ding dong team race throughout… and Scotia has now and again put us in our place! A particular mention is due to long-lasting friends, who can always be counted upon – Glyn Jones, Martin Fisher, John Constandinou, Ray Robinson, Dennis and Graham Jackson. To our delight Mario Bernatzki from Germany and Mary Pusateri from the USA have given us an international dimension to proceedings.
In the midst of the turmoil, I should mention two special moments where we have remembered with enormous affection Dave Crompton and Fred Pearce. Upon the cancellation of the Dave Crompton Memorial Trophy, John Crahan suggested that as many of us as possible should walk 7 miles or 7 km over that very weekend. There was a wonderful and touching response which is recorded on our website. As for the Fred Pearce Relay, it seemed impossible to overlook its pivotal presence on the calendar. Hence, informed by Dave’s exceptional handicapping we held a Virtual FP relay, within which only 2 seconds separated the first and second teams. What a race that would have been in the flesh!
Back in late March, concerned about how we might stay in touch with one another, I ventured the possibility that individuals might share their personal reminiscences, based upon but not limited by these questions. What prompted you to take up race walking? When and where was your first race? What’s your favourite race and why? Which performance has given you the greatest satisfaction? Inspiration for the exercise was provided by a couple of anecdotes from Maurice Ireland, who was at that time recovering from a stroke. Fittingly our indefatigable chair, Dave Evans was the first to set the ball rolling. Since then we’ve had some marvellous pieces from the likes of Guy Goodair, Tony Bell, Martin Payne, Marion and Peter Fawkes, John Crahan, Roy Gunnett, Dennis Jackson, John Cannell and Tony Malone – a wonderful diversity of athletes from the famous to the infamous, all with fascinating tales to tell. So too we’ve added historical pieces such as Ron Wallwork’s Recollections and paid tribute to those, who have passed on, such as Colin Young, Ann Sayer and Ray Manning. In a small way, I think the web site is becoming a valuable addition to the British race walking scene as a whole.
Without doubt, the lockdown encouraged reflection on the past, present and future of the club. Thus, in late June we received a challenging, even controversial contribution from Chris Bolton, a leading light in the renaissance of the club in the mid-1960s. Amongst his proposals were that our One Hour track walk should become a flagship event, our contemporary novice race and a recruitment opportunity; that we consider seriously moving our HQ to a venue with both a track and adjacent race-friendly roads: and that we consider a change of name to the Lancashire Race Walking Club. These suggestions engendered a lively and necessary debate. Frustratingly, though, with the demise of a ‘live’, democratic AGM we’ve not been able to explore these ideas further and to weigh up what we might think is the best way forward.
These questions will not go away. For now, they remain on the table. We can only hope that in 2021 a light emerges at the end of the tunnel; that we meet one another again in camaraderie and in competition. Rest assured I will do my best, together with Dave, Roy, Greg and Adrian, our makeshift steering group, to keep alive the purpose and spirit of our club.
Virtual League Racing Series – Race 46 – Mary Worth Memorial Race
RIP Mary Worth, a member of Steyning AC, who died on 20th January aged 92. She was 78th on the British All-Time list for 20km and a Veteran record holder and European medallist at 3km, 5km and 10km in several age groups. Mary was the widow of former RWA President Peter Worth (Centurion 491),Centurion Vice President and former Captain, RWA Treasurer & RWA Southern Area Treasurer. He raced for both the Borough of Enfield Harriers & Verlea AC.
Ron Wallwork comments: I didn’t appear on the Enfield Scene until the turn of the century so I didn’t know Mary all that well, but whenever she came along to Enfield Race Walking League fixtures, she was so pleasant and insisted on helping in some capacity. Wearing Steyning AC colours she competed in half a dozen Enfield Open 7’s, winning it in 1981 and finishing in the first three twice.
In a very competitive week we slipped to third but less than 1% in arrears. It’s smashing to see Chris Harvey, one of the club’s outstanding performers, being involved despite continuing health issues.
MENS AGE GRADED 2KM TEAM 1 South West Veterans AC (77.44%) 2 Birchfield Harriers (76.91%) 3 Lancashire Walking Club (76.56%) 4 Quickstep Fitness (74.36%) 5 Manx Harriers (73.73%) 6 Leicester Walking Club (70.01%) 7 Steyning AC (59.73%) – USA (52.78%) 8 Sarnia Walking Club (44.20%)
MENS 2KM TEAM 1 Manx Harriers (40) 2 Birchfield Harriers (45) 3 Quickstep Fitness (46) 4 South West Veterans AC (55) 5 Lancashire Walking Club (61) 6 Leicester Walking Club (72) – USA (176) 7 Steyning AC (190) 8 Sarnia Walking Club (210)
Ron’s personal Note: I think this piece is priceless. Its easy to forget that times were still hard for most people and value for money by way of durability, influenced most purchases.
I can relate to the rubber stick-on soles and recall that my father used to heel my shoes with rubber from a car-tyre. Lamb’s wool available at any chemists was also used to fill in the gaps mentioned, but blisters weren’t uncommon for several weeks when breaking in leather shoes. Another ‘wrinkle’, but one I never tried was to put the shoes on and soak your feet in a bowl of water. Yet another method of preventing blisters was to apply surgical spirit to the feet.
Race Shoes – an extract from a lengthy two-part article by Charlie Hatch in the RWR issues of 351/352 (Dec 71/Jan 72).
The best shoes I ever wore, (I use them every day, I have several pairs) are Whitlock’s Roadmasters. Shoes are at their most comfortable when they have been well worn. After a few miles I, personally, add a Woolworth’s lightweight stick-on sole. Its renewal is the only way the sole is ever mended. The rubber grips the road, the leather of the shoe contributes firmness. When renewing the heel, I use the concave type, its convex side in contact with road, of course. The descending foot rolls on it, as it were. I think ‘Phillips’ are the only makers now. I stick them on with ‘Holdtite’ and use smaller nails than those provided.
It sometimes happens that around the heel of any shoe a slight gap occurs where the floor of the shoe, not having been pushed tightly back enough. This can cause blisters. There are two remedies. Or you can use both in conjunction.
Cut out the heel-half of a leather inner sole (which you can get a cobbler to make). Push it well back, even a bit up the back of the heel and secure it by two or three firm nails at its instep end.
The other remedy (I gave this ‘wrinkle’ to the Lancs WC’s ‘CONTACT’ when it came into being a few years ago and I think they appreciated it) is, I think entirely my own idea. Fill in this tiny gap with clear Bostick and when it hardens, give it another coat and then another. When it hardens you will have a smooth and well fitting bed for the heel.
This is a most successful idea. The hardened Bostik wears as long the shoe, which with stick-on rubber soles, lasts for very many years, its floor thus shaping itself better to the contours of the foot.
You can’t help wondering if Charlie would have been sponsored today by Woolworth’s and indeed the French firm, BOSTIK!More information about Charlie much appreciated.
DOING IT WITH HALF THE FAG!
Further to the Charlie’s thoughts on repairing shoes, Roy Gunnett has tracked down in a file of material bequeathed to the club by Harold Ogden, a nephew of Frank and Jim O’Neill an unsolicited testimonial from the great Tom Payne regarding the wearing qualities and benefits derived from the use of ‘Hixopad’ rubber heels. It is dated April 4th 1907. Tom states, I’ve been training hard to win a 24-mile walk promoted by the South Shield Recreation Committee. I succeeded in winning. During the whole of my training I have used your ‘Hixopad’ rubber heels, one pair usually lasting me three months and I walk on average 110 miles per week.
In exploring further Roy looked to see if you could still buy ‘Hixopad’ rubber heels and indeed you can! See above a great coloured advert for them dating back to the Edwardian times. In addition, Roy notes that for a part of Tom Payne’s career, as referenced in Harold’s file, he raced for the Lancashire Walking Club.
See here for an utterly wonderful article by Tim Erickson about Tom Payne, ‘the mighty atom’
Thanks to everyone’s endeavours we’ve clawed our way back to the top.
Virtual League Racing Series – Race 45 – Dave Stevens Memorial Race
MENS AGE GRADED 2KM TEAM 1 Lancashire Walking Club (80.57%) 2 South West Veterans AC (78.00%) 3 Manx Harriers (77.59%) 4 Birchfield Harriers (75.88%) 5 Quickstep Fitness (73.16%) 6 Sarnia Walking Club (43.79%) 7 Leicester Walking Club (43.35%) 8 Yorkshire Race Walking Club (35.67%)
MENS 2KM TEAM 1 Manx Harriers (14) 2 Quickstep Fitness (39) 3 Birchfield Harriers (55) 4 South West Veterans AC (61) 5 Lancashire Walking Club (68) 6 Sarnia Walking Club (221) 7 Leicester Walking Club (224) 8 Yorkshire Race Walking Club (236)
The January ‘Joe Lambert’ Virtual Club 3 kilometres
The following obituary gives a feel of Joe’s enormous contribution to the club and to race walking as a whole.He was held in great esteem and regarded with much affection.
71 Years a Lancashire Walking Club Member
Our longest serving member of the Lancashire Walking Club Committee, Joe Lambert, passed away on the 6th January 1992 after a short illness, writes Frank O’Neill.
Joe was 91 years old and had been a member of Lancashire Walking Club for 71 years. He joined the club in 1920 after competing in the Manchester to Blackpool, an event he completed 25 times.
He continued to make progress over the years at both short and long distances and won many track prizes during the years before the war. Joe took part in many northern area and national championships competing against such men as Joe Hopkins, Harold Whitlock, Tommy Green, Tommy Payne and Lloyd Johnson, all first class competitors.
In 1935, 1936 and 1938 Joe was a member of the British team in the four day Nijmegen marches. After the war he again competed on four more occasions and was captain of the British team in 1958. He became Centurion No 223 in 1954 in the Blackpool to Manchester and Back in 21 hours and 44 minutes.
Joe competed in many events when well over 70 but from 1936 had begun to take an interest in administration and held many positions. He had already become club captain in the late twenties and proceeded to the offices of club president, chairman, timekeeper, treasurer until 1981 and a grade 1 judge. He was an able administrator.
Joe was Northern Area president in 1958 and later was made a life member of Lancashire WC and NARWA. In 1964 Joe was elected National president and proved to be very popular during his year of office, also being very active on RWA sub-committees and attending several Southern Area functions. On RWA matters he was secretary of the A.D. McSweeney memorial committee which was organised in the mid-sixties. He was later elected a life member of the RWA and his last accolade was being made a vice-president of the Centurions.
He was an AAA senior coach and NARWA coaching secretary, visiting schools in the Manchester area.
Joe was for some years a member of the international selection committee and team manager of British teams competing in East Germany, France and Italy with both seniors and juniors.
Joe’s working life was as a civil service administrator in telecommunications with the old GPO and as a result of this experience trained would-be signal operators for the RAF during the war, holding the rank of Flight Officer. Naturally he competed in many post office walking events.
Joe Lambert had a wealth of experience and will be greatly missed by the walking fraternity and his family. His daughter Joan is carrying on in his footsteps and has been the President of Lancashire Walking Club for the past seven years.
[Tragically, Joan, a dear friend and a colleague in the Wigan Education Department died only a few years later.]
Ron Wallwork remembers Joe:
My recollections include a train journey back from which race I cannot remember. I think Julian Hopkins and the usual suspects were among the others in the party. Joe was telling us how to control stomach ache or it might have been stitch by the pressure of a hand circulating on the affected area in a clockwise direction.
Such was the respect we had for him, that none of us laughed, interrupted or contradicted him. Mind you we did later.
On the other hand my memory differs:
Joe knew I was having all sorts of pre-race stomach problems and, perhaps with a twinkle in his eye, he advised me to rub my belly in an anti-clockwise direction and cover it when training with a sheet of brown paper.
Chris Bolton remembers Joe’s days as a watchful Treasurer:
He was certainly a stalwart and very well respected. I’m sure you will have many anecdotes to share.
I well remember a committee meeting where when Joe had given his meticulous Treasurer’s report a certain Tony Taylor suggested “let’s blow the lot, baby”. I don’t however remember his response!
Anecdotes/photos relating to Joe will be welcomed and added.
THE JOE LAMBERT 3 KILOMETRES VIRTUAL RACE
Our grateful thanks to everyone, who defied a freezing January [excluding Taylor, who wallowed in temperatures of 20 degrees Centigrade and probably had a back spasm from lying on a sun lounger] and a warm welcome to Atmaram, Grace, Tony, Sarah, Val and Jagannath from the McDermot stables of the Yorkshire Race Walking Club. They will feature in the handicap next month.
Tony Taylor 16:48
Greg Smith 18:03
Graham Jackson 18:30 [G]
Dave Evans 19:12
Tony Bell 19:40
Denis Jackson 19:46 [G]
Martin Payne 20:01
Atmaram Dahal 20:07 [G]
Marco Bernatzki 20:11.4 [G]
Joe Hardy 21:02
Ian Hilditch 21:09
Roy Gunnett 21:11
Pat Evans 21:13
Grace Gilpin 21:29 [G]
Glyn Jones 21:30 [G]
Tony Ryder 21:54 [G]
Sarah Circo 23:07 [G]
Val Mitchell 25:10 [G]
Andrea Lennon 26:08
Jagannath Sharma 28:54 [G]
Graham Jackson 18:30; 2:20; 16:10 [G]
Greg Smith 18:03; 1:45; 16:18
Glyn Jones 21:30; 5:00; 16:30 [G]
Denis Jackson 19:46; 3:05; 16:41 [G]
Martin Payne 20;01; 3:15; 16:46
Tony Taylor 16:48; 0:00; 16:48
Dave Evans 19:12; 2:15; 17:03
Joe Hardy 21:02; 4:15; 17:17
Andrea Lennon 26:08; 9:20; 17:28
Pat Evans 21:13; 3:40; 17:33
Ian Hilditch 21:09; 3:30; 17:39
Marco Bernatzki 20:11; 2:20; 17:51= [G]
Roy Gunnett 21:11; 3:20; 17:51=
Enfield League Virtual 5k, 30/31 January
There was an excellent response to the first race in this series. Tony Bell with a clocking of 33:02 was 22nd in a field of 56 athletes. The next edition will take place over the weekend, 20/21 February and contributions are welcomed from far and wide
Somewhat under strength with a back spasm laying me low we slipped to third team in the age-graded competition. Nevertheless sincere thanks to all our participants for posting times in less than welcoming weather conditions.
A REMINDER that 3k clockings for our January Club Virtual Series should be submitted by midnight Wednesday, February 3 at the latest.
Virtual League Racing Series – Race 43
MENS AGE GRADED 2KM TEAM 1 Manx Harriers (77.67%) 2 Birchfield Harriers (73.79%) 3 Lancashire Walking Club (71.83%) 4 Quickstep Fitness (70.38%) 5 Yorkshire Race Walking Club (51.28%) 6 Redcar Race Walking Club (45.84%) 7 Sarnia Walking Club (45.45%)
MENS 2KM TEAM 1 Manx Harriers (24) 2 Birchfield Harriers (48) 3 Quickstep Fitness (50) 4 Lancashire Walking Club (66) 5 Yorkshire Race Walking Club (99) 6 Redcar Race Walking Club (187) 7 Sarnia Walking Club (194)
Following Ron Wallwork’s much praised recollections about his footwear we have great pleasure in featuring Guy Goodair’s ‘heel and toe’ memories.
When I first started race walking around 1958/9 I used a pair of Dunlop Flashes (either green or yellow). I can’t remember which.
In 1961 I went over to the Isle of Man for the TT Walk and bought a pair of heavy leather shoes from the Coop. They weighed a ton!
[Note from Tony Taylor for our overseas followers, COOP was short for the Cooperative Society, a post-war attempt to develop a shopping alternative serving the people rather than profit.]
Then like most race walkers I got a pair from Harold Whitlock which served me for a few years before I got a pair of black leather ones from GT Laws – famous for making the spikes which Roger Bannister used for the first 4 minute mile.
The heels on these eventually wore down and at the time I worked for Sutcliffe Moulded Rubber Co. The chief chemist there, Mike Pysden took a keen interest in my racing career. At the time one toy was all the rage, a ball which if you threw it to the ground rebounded to a tremendous height – they were made of Polybutadiene (used in the manufacture of golf balls). Mike suggested that I had my shoes re-heeled with a slab of this as it would give me better rebound properties when my heel struck the ground. Not half it did – it was like walking on a trampoline. I was all over the shop. Needless to say I ditched them!
I was also buying shoes at the time from Norman Walsh of Bolton for fell running. Norman offered to make me a race walking pair which were superbly comfortable. Being a tight Yorkshireman, I’ve still got these along with the Laws and I still use them for an annual outing!
Other shoes I used were Adidas Marathons (won the Bradford in these). On a couple of occasions I wore a pair of the original Hush Puppies which were very comfortable.
Another brand I used for the longer distances were Karhus of Finland and they lasted me for ages.
Gola had a factory just down the road from us in Stanley (Wakefield). It was owned by the Lamb family. The Boss was known as ‘Clogger Lamb’ because they originally started out making clogs! Never fancied buying a pair even though they had a factory shop.
A shoe which was very popular and which I fancied but never got a pair were the German shoes ‘EB’ (stood for E Brutting). A couple of years ago we were in the Black Forest on holiday and I espied a pair on sale for 35 euro. I didn’t buy them though but regret it now.