Question and Answer
Well it's been ages since we last had an interview. Guess everyone's too busy training and racing. Many thanks to Geoff Watson for being the latest brave enough to bare his soul.
How many years have you been running Geoff?
Iíve been running a long time now! About 22 years on and off. That seems like an eternity!
When did you join the Harriers?
I joined Durham City in October 1994 after Rob Hand suggested I may like to join.
If you had to pick a favourite distance to race over what would it be?
I guess Iím most used to running 5 miles or 10k so thatís probably my favoured distance.
Youíve been XC captain for over a year now. What part of the job have you found most enjoyable?
I think the most enjoyable part is being at the events and seeing our teams do well. The banter is always good.
If you had to pick your most and least favourite Harrier League courses which ones would you choose? Why?
Good question! Prudhoe is definitely the favourite. When it was a one lap course it was a real cross country. Alnwick is a good course too. I donít think I have a least favourite although Iíve never been that keen on the Ďplaying fieldí type events. Itís not real cross country!
Last year saw an increase in the number of runners running the Harrier League. What do you think is the secret to getting a good turn out?
I donít think thereís a secret, maybe the flapjack attracts the runners? Seriously I think It is just promoting the events to members and encouraging new people to have a go. We do well when we do have a good turnout, and now we have a good group we should do well. Division 1 beckons for the men!
Youíre keen on waterskiing. Does the running help in any way?
It definitely does, cycling is good too. You have to be fit as skiing is hard work over 35 or 50 minutes races. Itís tiring in the legs, arms, everywhere! Usually when you get tired thatís when you fall off. Come and have a go sometime!
You do duathlons. How do you rate your bike riding relative to your running?
It varies! Iím not a good cyclist but at the moment itís better than the running! Doesnít say much for the running, but Iím working on it.
If you had to pick a running hero who would it be? Can you say why.
When I started running it was mainly on the fells. We had a rather inspirational maths teacher / running coach at school who happened to run all the mountains of Britain and Ireland over 900 metres in a matter of a months. So Iíd have to say Hugh Symonds. I blame him for getting me into running!
Are you going to the Olympics? Did you go for tickets. If you didnít why not?
I havenít got any tickets and I didnít try for them. Although now there are plenty of tickets still available it seems. I thought it better to view from the arm chair, although I considered going to watch the road cycling.
Are you able to divulge the reciepe of the Ďflapjacksí or is it top secret?
Itís very simple, more the ratio of ingredients than anything elseÖoats, syrup, sugar, butter! I have no measures itís more Jamie oliver, just throw it in the pot.
Many thanks Geoff.
This month thanks to Alan Rowell for agreeing to answer the questions.
When did you join DCH? Why did you decide to join?
Well, I joined in 1984 at the height of the running boom. I had run the 1983 North Run in 1hr 51 mins and often read in The Durham Advertiser about the exploits of DCH. I wanted to improve, as I enjoyed running, but didn't think I would be able to keep up with 'proper runners' so just kept doing my own thing. However, I met Alan Jackson on the bus going to the start of 1984 Morpeth / Newcastle, where we agreed to take the plunge and go to DCH. The rest is history. The best thing I have ever done.
You never seem to get badly injured. Is that a fair comment?
Yes, until I hit 60. I have been VERY lucky throughout my sporting career. I played football, squash, cricket and many athletic events.The worst injury I had was a sprained ankle and that was caused by climbing a tree to show my daughters how (not) to do it . I fell out (typical me). 60th birthday arrives, 6 months out with a bad back and 2 pulled calf muscles.'Old gitdom' is tough.
You were cross country captain for a long time. What did you enjoy most about the job?
12 years to be exact. I have always enjoyed cross country, itís the child in me, all the the clarts, plodging through mud, falling in streams and a nice hot shower afterwards. I didn't really class it as a job, I just enjoyed the camaraderie, competition and trying to get my name on The Resurgent Trophy, never did though . Great times and memories, even Prudhoe.
Youíve raced a lot over many distances. Can you let us know what were your best times and when and where they were achieved.
My best times were all in the distant past, so I'll just go and rummage through my diaries. They were all in 1987. 10k Heaton 35.02, 10 miles Hartlepool 55.23 Half Marathon GNR 1 hr 16 min 50 secs Marathon London 2 hrs 48 min 18 secs . I also did the British Veterans Pentathlon in 1998 and finished 3rd 0/50 .
Can you pick your 5 favourite races that youíve enjoyed most over the years and put them in order with No: 1 being top of the list.
A tough question this, but on reflection. 1. GNR, when it was in June and didn't cost the earth to enter. 2. London Marathon, as the atmosphere, especially as you cross Tower Bridge, is fantastic. 3. Dentdale 14 Run. Challenging, scenic and great scran at the end. 4. Morpeth to Newcastle on New Years Day. Kept me sober on New Years Eve and great crack in Town Hall before race. 5. All Harrier League races (even Prudhoe if I'm honest).
You seem to be winning your age group category quite frequently these days. Is there a secret for your continuing success?
No secret really. I still train hard (speed work, a long slow run on Sunday )and enjoy the competition. I suppose that as runners age more come down with injuries and give up, so less competition, perhaps. As I said earlier I've been lucky with injuries( touch wood), so am able to keep up a decent standard .
Do you have any specific running goals for 2011?
Yes. I would like to run Dent 14 again as I won the 0/60 category in 2009 and 2010 and 3 times in a row would be nice. I still harbour ambitions of breaking 40 minutes for 10K, my best this year is 41.07 and it is 5 years since I ran sub 40, so I am looking for a flat course with a following gale. I also want to run sub 90 for a half marathon. I DO NOT INTEND RUNNING ANY MORE MARATHONS............ EVER.
You have organised many many training sessions over the years. Whatís the toughest one you can remember setting?
Listening to many of the group I think all of them. I do remember a track session that was 2 sets of 3x 1 mile with 90 second recovery and 2 mins between sets. That was tough. However, I am a pussycat when compared with the sessions Bill Ramage and Roger Lund set.
Considering your great experience what advice would you give to a new member seeking to improve their times.
Persevere, you will improve quickly at first and then reach a plateau, so keep up the training, don't get discouraged . Speed sessions are important, they train your body to run hard when tired. LSD = long slow distance, very important and time to chat with your mates. Race, after all it's what you are training for. But most important of all ................. ENJOY
When you were running at your peak what would a typical weekís training log have looked like?
Back to the diary. This is from April 1987 leading up to London.
Mon Harriers Good paced 8 miles. Tues Steady 8 miles . Wed 9 miles fartlek Thurs Harriers. Ran from home to County Hall 2x 4 x long lap.Ran back. 10 miles Frid Rest day. Sat Good paced, timed 8 miles. Sun LSD 22 miles Total 65 miles.
Do you have any running heroes? If so who and why?
Roger Bannister...How anyone can run a sub 4 min mile on a cinder track, while holding down a job as a doctor is astonishing. Charlie Spedding.... made the most of his ability late on in his career. Paula Ratcliffe... totally dedicated and fought back from many track disappointments to achieve her goals. Don't count her out of 2012 Olympics either. Steve Cram... world record holder, local hero, Sunderland supporter, need I say more.
What do you enjoy most about running?
Being able to do it. I have made many fantastic friends/ acquaintances through running and what could be better than going for a long run on a beautiful summer evening or through the snow in winter, while chatting with like minded mates. Wonderful!!
Many thanks to Catherine Sharpe one of our most recent members for answering the questions this month. Catherineís from Australia.
Catherine, you have only recently moved to England. How does going running here compare with what it's like back in Australia?
The weather! At home, even in winter, I would only ever wear a pair of shorts, vest and a cap running. In contrast, I now donít leave home without numerous layers, including waterproofing, and a warm pair of gloves. Iíll also have to learn to run on ice!
When did you start running and what made you start?
About 18 months ago I decided to start competing in triathlons as a means of keeping out of the pub! I needed a more constructive past time than just warming a bar stool. A friend was doing a beginnersí triathlon course so I also joined in and absolutely loved it. With 1/3 of a tri being the run leg I had no choice but to pull on the running shoes and start doing some Ks.
You have done a couple of cross country races. What has the experience been like?
I must admit that I did not enjoy the first race - it was cold, wet and muddy and my beautiful new red shoes were destroyed in seconds! However, I persisted and really enjoyed the second race valuing the change of scenery and the added strength to the legs Iíve gained. I also love the fact that these races have minimal commercial input compared to what you see at the big events.
What are your racing plans for the next couple of months and do you have any specific targets you are aiming for?
The plan for the next few months is to avoid slipping over on icy footpaths, try and do all the Harrier cross country races and confidently complete my first half marathon (York brass monkey in January)
Is running as popular an activity in Australia as it is in the North-East of England?
Running as a sport itself is not as popular and we certainly donít have as many running clubs or local races in which to compete. However, running as a means of fitness/cross-training for other sports, such as triathlon, football (league and union), cricket, is very popular.
Who are your Australian sporting heroes if you have any?
Dare I admit Shane Warne? Although he has proven himself an absolute lout off the field, he was just an amazingly skilled cricketer and tactician who was highly entertaining whether bowling or batting.
Is there a part of the city (Durham) that you enjoy most for running? Why?
I love running right through the middle of Durham, especially at night. I get a real buzz when Iím running on the historical cobbled streets and can look up at the beautifully lit up Cathedral. And soon weíll have the Christmas lights too.