Guy Goodair remembers the sportsmanship of Ray Manning, Centurion 415 – Rest in Peace

Sadly we have to report that Ray Manning, Centurion 415, passed away on 3rd July aged 88 after a short illness. Ray, a member of Wakefield Harriers and well-known to his contemporaries in our club, qualified in the 1968 Leicester to Skegness race in 19:56:20. Indeed I remember chasing after him with a sponge in the 1970 Blackpool walk, which as the club secretary of the time I organised. His daughter Linda says her father was a proud Centurion and his medal, certificate and plaque will be displayed at the funeral, which will take place on the 16th July, being restricted in these difficult times to the family.

Guy Goodair remembers fondly those past years and a wonderful sporting gesture by Ray.

Ray was a great club man. Although he lived in Newcastle he was always willing to make a trip down to wherever we needed him for the team.

The start of the 1967 TT Walk, Ray, number 18, finished 6th .Ta to John Cannell.

Probably his best ever individual performance was finishing 3rd in 1968 over the gruelling 37.75 mile TT course in the Isle of Man

He was a counting member of the Wakefield team which won the team event in both the 1968 and 1970 Manchester to Blackpool 51.75 miles races, the 1968 Bradford 50km and the 1968 Northern 50km,

Ray was also a team counter when Wakefield took 2nd place in 1970 Northern 20 miles, and 3rd place in National 50km Championship.

Ray was a member of the Centurions team which took 12th place in the 1969 Swiss Airolo to Chiasso relay which was from the St Gotthard pass to Chiasso on the Italian border. He did the 14km leg from Bellinzona up to the summit of Monte Ceneri. The following week he finished 15th in the Lugano 100km in 11h 36m 18s

Thinking about Ray and those years of yore, one occasion particularly sticks in my memory. We’d gone to Switzerland for the Lugano race walking week – four of us from Wakefield Harriers, myself, George Barras, Ray and Eric Lee plus Harry Holmes Jnr from Yorkshire RWC. As we were all Centurions we entered under that title for the five-legged Airolo – Chiasso relay. Looking back we were up against Italy, USA, Czechoslovakia, Sweden a London team (Warhurst, Mills, Marlow, Wesch and Embleton) and a German team which had internationals in it. We finished 12th which wasn’t too bad.

Pat Duncan, Roger Mills, Peter Marlow, Eric Lee, Me, George Barras, Judith, Harry Holmes Ray is immediately above John Warhust’s head
Wilf Wesch, is next to John then Phil Embleton not sure who it is next to Phil. All is revealed, next to Phil is our very own Tony Malone, who raced the Thursday evening 10 kilometres.

The following weekend was the Lugano 100km and from the start my stomach was ‘off’ – I had the runs and at every town had to dash for the toilets in the local railway station. A good remedy I’ve found is Fernet-Branca (foul tasting drink) but it helps. Judith dashed into a bar early on before the bar was properly open and asked for a drink.The woman behind the bar was pouring a small measure, Judith grabbed a tumbler, poured her measure plus a lot more into the tumbler and dashed out to me.

“[Fernet] benefits the stomach, promotes digestion, strengthens the body, overcomes cholera, reduces fever, and heals those suffering from nervous weakness, lack of appetite, sickness or tapeworms; suitable for use as a preventative measure for all those who are obliged to reside in damp and infectious conditions.”

She was having her work cut out trying to feed us all but George and Harry were getting too far away. I was also, as the race went on, getting cramp and the toilets in the stations were holes in a flat surface with mouldings to place your feet. Now that’s no place to be when cramp strikes!

After the halfway  (Locarno) there’s a mighty climb up Monte Ceneri and there was a rule you had to get there inside a certain time after the leader had gone through. If you were over this then you were stopped and classified.

Both Ray and Eric were miles in front of me but asked Judith how I was doing and would I make the cut off. She told them I should just make it. Then with generous sportmanship they decided to wait for me at the summit and ‘shepherd’ me into the finish where we were 15th in 11h 36m 18s – a great gesture because they’d have done much faster times if they’d not waited.

Happy days and great memories – Rest in Peace, Ray.

Ray Manning – Personal bests

10 miles 85m 20s

20 km  107m 5s

20 miles 3h 4m 17s

50km 5h 1m 34s

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