COVID-19 Further Race Postponements, but Let’s Stay Connected

As I write the Covid-19 crisis shows no signs of abating, a scenario within which sport is revealed as hardly a matter of life or death.

Therefore it will come as no surprise to hear that we must postpone both the May and June fixtures, namely the Dave Crompton Memorial 7 miles on May 9 and the Dick and Zena Smith 10/5k on June 8. The British Masters 5k on June 21 is also in jeopardy. In truth further postponements are likely. Indeed the Race Walking Association fixture list is beset by cancellations through to August.

The start of the British Masters 5k 2019. Unlikely to held this year.

You will have noticed that we are talking about postponements rather than cancellations in terms of our club events. For the time being we wish to retain some room for manouevre in terms of what might be a revised late Summer/Autumn/Winter fixture list. Two considerations come to mind.

Dave and Fred in their element. Still sorely missed.
  1. We feel there will be much support for ensuring that new dates are found for the Dave Crompton Memorial Trophy and the Fred Pearce Relay. Sadly we suspect the latter will fall foul of the lock down
  2. So too we think we should explore fitting as many races as practical into a revised schedule as soon as we get the green light. In this way we can renew our face-to-face friendships and rekindle our collective club spirit.

Interestingly, even provocatively, Greg Smith draws our attention to the advice of Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries, who suggests:

“I might, actually though, put a more optimistic view as well, which is if people are not going out to work, and, often, that creates quite a stress in terms of travel time, they have more free time to themselves.

And it might be the best opportunity the whole country has to say I’m going to use my one exercise session every day to ensure by the time this is over I am super fit and so is my family.

This is a challenge. On this basis we should all be turning up to the next race in the time-honoured phrase, ‘fit as a butcher’s dog!’ Personal bests all round!

This said, a few of our stalwarts are in the government’s vulnerable group and perhaps in receipt of a letter instructing them to stay in the house for three months. Chris Bolton, 81 years young with COPD is in this category and sends this warning from Glossop after putting his head out of doors. Evidently taking the bins out can be construed as an offence! Fair enough we’ve made that up!

Chris ‘I was only putting bins out’ Bolton heading towards Blackpool in 1962

Joking aside and remembering the club motto, let’s all stay safe and healthy in the coming months.

In this context, given we’re not going to see one another for a goodly time, we can perhaps use this web site to keep people in touch and whet our appetite for a return to the roads. Thus we are encouraging you to respond to one or all of the following prompts or indeed any additional questions that strike you. It would be brilliant if you’ve any photos to accompany your anecdotes.

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?

A couple of people have already agreed to contribute and to give you further inspiration here are a couple of stories from Maurice Ireland we posted a few years ago. By the way Maurice is recovering slowly from his stroke and is managing to walk slowly 2-3 miles a day. We look forward to seeing him when we recommence our activities.

My membership of the club goes back to about 1960 and I have many photographs etc. so if I can help them please let me know. My initial involvement with the sport and LWC is from 1954; at that time we lived on Bolton Road, Pendlebury and my father had regaled me with stories of his involvement with the Club and how he competed in such races as the Manchester to Blackpool in the late 1920s; unfortunately he was diagnosed with silicosis when he was 33 years of age which brought an end to his athletic career. However, on a particular night in 1954 I was “dragged” from my bed by my most excited father who had spotted race walkers going past our shop and found that the Manchester to Blackpool and back (100 miles) race was in progress. He had set up a feed station and I was directed to assist by running to meet approaching walkers, determine their “needs”, run back then deliver as he prepared them, this continued for some hours. The weather was atrocious, it rained continuously and needless to say it did not attract me to the sport but, I did admire the fortitude and competitive spirit along with the camaraderie of the many people I met throughout the night. Also, from the records I think you will find that Joe Lambert qualified as a centurion in this event. As far as I was concerned, this was my first and last involvement with the “daft beggars” who wished to inflict such agonies on themselves.

Maurice winning 1978 NW GPO 15k in 74:12

However, and as if predestined, my fate was sealed; in 1960 whilst returning from an engineering training course (old GPO) a person by the name of Chris Bolton, travelling in the same car, was prattling on about how he had raced in the Manchester to Blackpool event. I joined the conversation by stating that my father had also done that event and on how I had assisted in the “100”; I think Chris was a little taken aback by finding that I was aware of the sport and such events. Shortly after this meeting Chris and me were sent to work in the same telecoms centre and I frequently heard stories about his recent races; this gave me the opportunity to pull his leg about race walking and how anybody could walk at the speed of 6 miles in an hour. However, and as you would expect, Chris planned his revenge, one particular day he set me up in front of our colleagues to the point where he said that I could not walk 6 miles in the hour as I was boasting, obviously I laughed at him until he said that he had entered me on the next Saturday afternoon to compete at Worsley with LWC; I was trapped. Needless to say I had to turn out, but I am very proud of the fact that I did manage to beat the hour (by 30 seconds) and was awarded the 6 Miles in the Hour badge from the RWA; this was the start of my race walking career and thanks to Chris, many, many hours of superb sports involvement.

Here’s hoping that we can share more fascinating insights of this kind across the coming months.

SEND YOUR STORIES/PHOTOS to Tony at tonymtaylor@gmail.com

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