Back at the end of 2021, Tim Erickson posted the following thoughts in the Victorian Race Walking Club Newsletter about the three books on Race Walking published by the governing bodies in the UK since the Second World War. I asked him if I could pinch his musings and in particular the pdf link to the second of these books, which he favoured. He readily agreed. Being slow at times [increasingly so!] it has taken me this long. As you will see I was particularly delighted that he was most impressed by the manual written by my dear friend and training partner Julian Hopkins, who joined Lancashire Walking Club back in 1961. Published in 1976 it is still well worth perusing its contents.

The cover features the ever-stylish Roger Mills, the 1974 European 20km bronze medallist
Julian is on the extreme left along with Eric Crompton, Mick Entwistle, Fred Pearce, Ron Wallwork and myself at the 2016 celebration of Ron’s 2 Hour record.

In the report on the 2016 event at Bury, I supplied some comments on those of us, who raced on that rainy day in 1971. In Julian’s case, I noted.

Julian Hopkins, is famously or infamously, remembered as a National Coach way ahead of his time, hounded out of the sport for observing that contact was increasingly impossible as the event developed. In his time he was featured on the cover of Race Walking Record, in July 1967, as a rising star, having finished 10th counter in the National 20k, won by Ron Wallwork, enabling a second place for the club. In 1970 he was integral to the team that placed first, second and third in the four senior championships, alongside Wallwork and Taylor, ensuring that the club won the A.D. McSweeney trophy as the leading club of the year, ahead of 29 teams – with four walkers to count in all championships. The other counters in that notable year were Dave Vickers [10 miles], Chris Eyre [20k[, Don Warren [20 miles] and Mick Entwistle [50k].

There is no doubt that an interview with Julian is called for. I will do my best.

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  1. Steven Uttley says:

    I still have a copy of Julian’s excellent book. I agree that Julian was hounded out by those unwilling to deal with reality. He observed that contact was not a feature of modern race walking, particularly at international level. This upset a huge number of people, despite being true. Since cheap digital devices have made video ubiquitous the evidence in support of his view has continued to accumulate. Yet we now have this ‘naked eye’ rule which seeks to distinguish between visible and invisible loss of contact – despite the fact that the entire field in international events exhibits some degree of contact loss. That tells me that there is still a degree of denial about and that many still refuse to come to terms with the reality which Julian so eloquently illuminated nearly half a century ago.

  2. Russ Jackson (Australia) says:

    Hi Tony, I agree wholeheartedly with what Julian said and after spending many years judging as well, I know full well what goes on, and have despaired many times at what some walkers think they can ger away with, and their arrogance at being d’qd.

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