Guy Goodair’s Manchester to Blackpool Memories : 1961- 1963

Better late than never I have the greatest pleasure in posting the first instalment of Guy Goodair’s evocative memories of his exploits in our club’s ‘Blue Riband’ event.

Manchester to Blackpool Memories
I first started serious race walking in February 1961 in the Northern ‘Junior’ Championships at Bradford and liked it so much I entered the Manchester to Blackpool race some 4 months later. It became my favourite race even more so than the Bradford Walk which was much more local to me. For some reason, the actual distance never fazed me and as far as I was concerned once I’d got past Preston I knew I’d ‘cracked it’.

After our first race in March John Hampshire & I did 1x18ml, 2 x 19 mls and 1 x 20 mls
training spins before the Manchester to Blackpool. We had John Grundy , (who the previous year had finished 2nd on the Butlins John o’Groats to Land’s End race) looking after us. It was a very sticky warm day but there were a few showers to cool us down. John Edgington & Frank O’Reilly went off early on and at the halfway I was 4th (4hrs 10min) & John 15th. I was starting to get blisters but tried to stay with John Todd and Hughie Neilson but I dropped back in the latter stages and finished 6th (8h 56m 13s) and John moved up to 10th. Lancashire won the team race with 33pts and 57 finished from 70 starters.



John Edgington – better known as a 20k walker, 8th in Tokyo 1964 Olympics


1 J Edgington (Coventry Godiva) 8.25.24  2 F O’Reilly (Lozells) 8.28.31 3 C Colman (Lancashire WC) 8.33.54

I wanted to become a Centurion (Leicester to Skegness) so unlike Chris Bolton (a glutton for punishment) I didn’t enter this year. See this earlier post on Chris’s gluttony.



Hughie Neilson- in 1960 he covered 100 miles on the track in 17h 18m 51s and 133miles 19 yards in 24 hours – world records


1 H Neilson (Woodford Green) 8.53.22 2 N Hopkinson (Sheffield UH) 9.07.13 3 J Eddershaw (Sheffield UH) 9.11.45
Team Lancashire 19 pts 33 finished




Reaching Burnden Park, Bolton Wanderers’ old ground, on a murky June morning, a quartet from the inside of Mal Blyth, Mick Hollimann [hidden], Guy and Frank

It rained heavily early on then it fined up. I took the lead at Horwich and went through 23 miles in 3h 23m and halfway in 3h 55m then once again began to blister badly. Frank O’Reilly pulled away over the last 16 miles to win easily and I managed to hold onto 2nd from a fast finishing Karl Abolins. Headlines in one Sunday Newspaper was ‘O’Reilly wins with a Worry’.


Frank & I became good friends afterwards and he gave me lots of good advice and tips for ultra-distance races.



Frank shows off the trophy


1 F O’Reilly (Lozells) 8.14.25 2 G Goodair (Wakefield) 8.33.04 3 K Abolins (Royal Sutton Coldfield) 8.35.20
Team Sheffield 40 pts 54 finished

Memories of 1964 and 1965 coming soon.

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7 Responses to Guy Goodair’s Manchester to Blackpool Memories : 1961- 1963

  1. Pam Ficken says:

    Great memories Guy loved reading it,lovely to see a photo of John I remember him so well.Thank you also for the photo of Dad.I look forward to your next 2 years. Pam

  2. Claire Doyle says:

    Hello, I wonder if you remember my grandad, Joe Derrick? He was in the Leyland Motors Althletics Club and was the first man in Leyland colours to do the 100 miles Manchester to Brighton and back in under 24 hours. He also won the Manchester to Blackpool I think in the early 1960’s, and represented Britain in the 1962 Nijmegen Four Day walks. Sadly he dies a few tears ago but I would love to hear any memories you may have of him. Once he told me he stopped to help a fellow competitor and still went on to win the race.


    • Tony Taylor says:

      Claire – I’ve passed your message on and will do some research myself. I do remember feeding him on the Blackpool Walk when I was a young lad!

  3. Edward Almond says:

    Re Joe Derrick.
    Claire I knew your grandfather in the early 1960’s when I was a member of Leyland Motors Social. and Athletic Club. He helped me in my training for race walking but although I finished ahead of him in a few races I was no way as good as him. I have been researching the history of LMSAC athletic section for a number of years and have a comprehensive list of walking races by club members. ‘Little Joe’ as he was affectionately known to distinguish him from ‘Big Joe’ (Joe Billington) first appears in the records as a committee member of the re-established athletic section of Leyland Motors in 1955. His first recorded walking race was the 1956 Manchester to Blackpool where he finished 44th in 11 hours 10 min 39 sec and was the fifth LMSAC walker to finish. His third walking race was the 1957 Manchester to Blackpool when he drastically improved to finish 13th in a time of 9 hours 14min 52 sec which earned him the novice cup and in addition was 2nd in the handicap race and was the second Leyland man home.
    In 1958 he achieved his fastest time for the Manchester to Blackpool Walk of 9 hours 12 min 24 sec which gained him the first place in the handicap race as well as finishing second in the team race just 1 point behind the winners Coventry Godiva..
    On July 3rd 1959 he became a member of the exclusive Centurion Club (Walking 100 miles in hunger 24 hours) when he competed in the London to Brighton and Back Race. He was timed in 12th position at 100 miles in 21 hours 29min 12 sec at which point he stopped racing having completed his goal.
    Joe continued walking and running for the club into the mid 1960’s he competed in nine Manchester to Blackpool walks finishing in 1964.
    If you would like more details of your grandad I would be pleased to do so

  4. Tony Taylor says:

    Edward – Many thanks for this fascinating info about Joe. It’s too interesting to leave in the Comments section so I’ll copy and paste into a specific lost in the next week. Much appreciated.

  5. Tony Taylor says:

    A bit behind and wondering if you’ve any photos of Joe. Cheers.

  6. Edward Almond says:

    I do have some photos of Joe. Most are group photos of the walking and cross country sections of Leyland Motors. Unfortunately I have limited skill in scanning.

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