REMINISCENCES 8 – DENIS JACKSON LOOKS BACK OVER AN OUTSTANDING CAREER

Over recent years, when back for the occasional Northern event, I’ve often wondered if the people present knew that the the softly-spoken, unassuming bloke sat quietly in the corner is one of the great all-rounders in British Race Walking. His name is Denis Jackson, a product of the fascinating world of working class enthusiam for race walking to be found in the city of York and the great tradition of Postman Pedestrianism. These memories from Denis might well open a few eyes. Thanks to Graham, his son, for prodding Denis into making this contribution.

An early photo in Denis’s career

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

A non-uniformed Postman’s race sees Denis battling it out with Jackie Lord

 I first starting walking when joining the Post Office, where there were other employees interested in race walking. My first race was over 5 miles in the local Working Men’s club event. I heard there was a national Post Office championship walk so I decided to enter. The distance was 15 kilometres and I finished second to Denis Vale in either 1972 or 73. I’m not sure of the year, but it was held down south in Middlesex. After which I was hooked and the York Postal Race Walking Club was born, 

International Postman’s event in Greece

What’s your favourite race and why?

I didn’t have a favourite race, but 20 miles was the distance I liked most. Then I moved up to 50 kilometres. Nevertheless 20 miles was my favourite training session. Although I should mention the 1986 National 20 kilometres held in York where I broke 90 minutes for the first time. And that was after I had my shoe kicked off only 5 minutess into the race! 

Great shot of Denis in the 1985 World Cup

Which performance has given you the greatest satisfactio

Reaching the sea front in the 1975 London to Brighton classic is still in my memory. I finished second in the 1980 National 50 kilometres at Basildon behind the Australian, Tim Erikson, thus earning my first international vest in Paris in a match against France Spain and Switzerland. I broke the British record at 30k and 35k on the track in 1981. Being selected for the European Athletic Championships in 1986 was a highlight, along with my last international in the 1993 World Cup in Monterray, Mexico as a 48 year old!

Denis finishing in his final international, 48 years young

My biggest disappointments were not being selected for the 1984 Olympics – I was nominated for a place with the ‘B’ standard but overlooked – and not breaking 4 hours for 50 kilometres in 1986 when I was in the form of my life. I thought that 1986 was going to be my year. 

INTERNATIONAL HONOURS

Lugano Trophy/ World Cu

1981 Valencia, Spain – semi final and final

1983 Bergen, Sweden-  semi final and final

1985 Isle of Man –   final

1987 New York, USA – final

1989 Retired – only a spectator.

1991 San Jose, USA – final

1993 Monterey, Mexico – final

European Championships 

1986 Stuttgart, West Germany

PERSONAL BESTS

10k 44:20 

20k 89:42

35k 2:41:03

50k 4:03:08

This entry was posted in History and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to REMINISCENCES 8 – DENIS JACKSON LOOKS BACK OVER AN OUTSTANDING CAREER

  1. Peter Fawkes says:

    Denis is one of the quietist and unassuming athletes I have ever known, and a very successful one at that. I had the honour of racing with him in the York Postal Team prior to his international breakthrough and can confirm that he was one of the hardest men to shake off during a race such was his determination and mindset and I thank him for it as it brought the best out of me during my short time as a competitor. An athlete everyone should look up to and admire!

  2. Adrian Edwards says:

    How do you follow reminiscences from Marion and Dennis?? Have you lined up Jefferson Perez?
    Whatever Dennis achieved in his career I bet he was never as pleased as when he watched Graham complete the hundred! Fantastic athlete and a great dad!
    I did seven out; and then back this morning. I’ll wear my Greek vest in memory of Dave tomorrow.

  3. sarnia says:

    Proud to have had Denis as a team mate back in my York Postal days. Someone I looked up to and had a few enjoyable but hard training sessions with during my holidays in York. Keep going Denis.
    Rob Elliott

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s