Reminiscences Two : Guy Goodair reflects

What prompted you to take up race walking? When and where was your first race?

I was a member of Wakefield Harriers and we’d heard all about the famous Star Walk in Sheffield held every year on Whit Tuesday. Now although there were other races over Whitsun there were no local running races on the Tuesday so four of us decided to enter. The Star Walk was for ‘novices’ (those who hadn’t won a prize at race walking) although Sheffield United Harriers ‘groomed’ likely winners by telling potential winners to make sure they didn’t get into SUH’s medal or prize winning teams in the months before the race. The race was 11.5 miles long which was a long way for novices but luckily for us we’d done lots of long running races including marathons so the distance didn’t bother us. There were big crowds at the start and we were well back but gradually started catching the early leaders once we’d got past Hillsborough and climbing up Halifax Road.

Start of the 1958 Star Walk

Our lack of real race walking technique saw us losing ground on the descents and gaining on the climbs. Eventually John Hampshire and myself found ourselves in equal 4th spot approaching the finish at Corporation Street Baths – the officials at the end were trying to seperate us (think they only had 4 prizes ready) but we held hands and went over the line together for 4th place the race being won by Derek Slinn. John and I both got a prize at the lunch afterwards. Didn’t walk again until Northern Junior in 1961. [Editor’s note – Guy was second in the said race to Mick Grayson (Sheffield UH) with Ivor Percival of our club third, Fred Pearce was sixth.]

As Guy puts it, the certificate uses his Sunday name.

What’s your favourite race and why?

Manchester to Blackpool  – don’t really know why but as far as I was concerned once I’d got to Preston docks I’d ‘cracked it’ even though there was still 20 miles or so to go.

A knackered Guy, head leaning even more than ever to his left, finishing first in 1964, outside the Town Hall, the throng of enthusiastic female spectators kept back by the local constabulary.

Very proud of my race record here – 12 races between 1961 and 1974 – 6th on my first attempt and 6th on the last race otherwise never out of the first three (3 x 1st, 5 x 2nd and 2 x 3rd)

If you haven’t already seen these, follow the links below for an enthralling insight into Guy’s exploits in our club’s Blue Riband event, the Manchester-Blackpool, the like of which will never be seen again.

Which performance has given you the greatest satisfaction?

Winning Bradford Walk in 1964 – felt really strong all the way round.

[Another Editor’s note – in truth I was deeply disappointed to find that Guy did not say that his finest hour was out sprinting yours truly in the Northern 2 miles championships on a loose cinder track in Bolton, July 27, 1968. Result: 1.Phil Bannan [Isle of Man] 14:16.8 2. Guy Goodair [Wakefield] 14:24.0 3. Tony Taylor [LWC] 14:.24.0. I still don’t know how they separated us!]

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