So far this year, after races in Australia and Malaysia, it’s not living up to the excitement of last year. Yes there’s been some good passing moves but it doesn’t seem like there’s been as many. It was good to see Kimi Raikkonen win in Melbourne and the Red Bull domination challenged, though that seems to have lasted for only one race. This weekend there were two interesting developments. Firstly Alonso crashed out very early on, which robbed us of a chance to see some great racing, though it did give Massa the chance to shine in his own right, which he failed to do. Secondly was the decision by Vettel to disobey team orders and rob his team mate, Webber, of the victory.
I’m in two minds about this incident. I prefer drivers to race each other, following team orders robs us of a potentially great battle between two drivers with almost identical machinery, however because Webber was following team orders, he wasn’t in race mode with Vettel, as he believed Vettel would not overtake him, so we were robbed of a battle anyway. Were I in Vettel’s shoes I would have wanted the win too, but one day the shoe might be on the other foot and there may well be a time when Vettel needs Webber as his rear guard. If I were Webber I’d be as bitterly disappointed as he clearly was, the win was his, he’d done everything he’d been asked to do and, knowing what the team orders were he could afford to relax a little and enjoy victory. How will Webber react in a similar situation again, or even Vettel for that matter, has the trust between team mates been so eroded that they are more bitter rivals than their opposition, playing into the hands of Alonso. My preference would be for no team orders, for the best drivers to race each other, but it’s never going to happen unless we have one driver for each team, and even then you can’t guarantee it as you have mixed loyalties.
In running we have inter team rivalry, it’s often stated that you’ll sometimes try harder to beat a team mate than somebody you don’t know, and that does happen. But there’s also a bit of camaraderie when you’re running alongside a team mate in a race. Knowing you are the same ability can encourage you to push a little harder to work together on the opposition. I’ve often given words of encouragement to team mates that I’ve passed towards the end of races, I’ll encourage them to come with me and hang in to the end but I won’t be slowing down for them as I’ll be chasing someone else down. The other thing I tend to do after I finish is go back along the course to give my team mates a hurry up, it doesn’t matter how worn out I am I get out there and shout encouragement at them, whether they want it or not. I’m a great believer in encouraging your team mates to do better, as long as they finish behind you.
This weekend we saw the cancellation of all the area 12 stages. This was a big shame for Salford as we had a strong squad out, on the other hand it was good news for one of my former clubs, Belgrave, as they found themselves with only 11 men. The races will not be reinstated, which is a shame as 9 teams will miss out on medals, and it could have been one athlete’s only opportunity of that medal. Somebody suggested running the area championships as part of the National championship, which I think is a great idea.
Also this weekend it was the World Cross Country Championships. I love watching cross country on the TV, it’s just unfortunate we don’t get more of it, but even I could see that this championship wasn’t of the standard that they used to be, though this actually made the races more watchable than on other occasions. It’s a shame we can’t encourage the best in the World to compete at the World championships but I guess everyone has their own agenda.
When I visited my parents this weekend my mum had dug out some things from under the bed. One was a copy of Athletics Weekly from September 18 1996. The front cover has four pictures, three from the Great North Run, one showing my old mate, Paul Evans, as he heads towards a 2nd place finish behind Benson Masya, incidentally my other club mate, Gary Staines, was 4th in that race, Belgrave won the domestic team race. One was of Yvonne Murray leading over the Tyne Bridge, she would eventually come 4th with fellow Scot Liz McColgan winning. One was of Carly Wilson winning the Junior Great North Run, I don’t know what became of her. The 4th was of Janine Whitlock, our top female pole vaulter at the time, who had just vaulted 4 metres. Looking through the magazine it’s quite interesting to see the names of people I’ve competed against; many greats were running sub 67 in the Great North run, including a couple of friends; Bill Foster and Bashir Hussain. In the ladies race it was good to see my friends Jackie Newton coming 9th and Clare Pauzers in 12th place. Canadian Neil Smith was claiming a world record for running the ‘beer’ mile in 5:42.3, but as they were only consuming 330ml of beer a lap they must’ve been doing the girls race, surely real beer milers consume pints! Another one of my mates, Dave Taylor won the Buffalo Chips 10 (presumably 10 miles) in Sacramento, interesting name for a race a bit like the Dog Poo 4 or the Cat Wee 7. Other interesting results showed another couple of old mates, Dave Dudley and Lee Hurst coming 3rd and 4th in the Preston 10k, with Alex Rowe 10th, Andy Wilton winning the Congleton half marathon with a sub 70 clocking, Eric Crowther, down in London winning the Sri Chinmoy 2 miles in Battersea, ahead of my old Belgrave sparring partner, Phil Carstairs, with other Belgrave pal, Kevin Quinn in 4th. I could go on but even I’m getting bored.
Also found under the bed was a programme for the Wilmslow Half Marathon from 2003, which was the only year I’ve run it and also hosted the AAA and Inter-counties championship. A look back at the results that years show; The race was won in 62:23 by Julius Kibet, with Ian Hudspith 2nd and first Brit. Salford’s Andi Jones was 6th in 64:41, local to Crewe, Mike Proudlove, ran 65:26 for 9th, another Salford runner, Duncan Mason ran 66:30 for 17th, which was one place higher than Lee Hurst, who must’ve been between clubs as he wasn’t listed as Belgrave. In 22nd and 23rd were my Belgrave colleagues Will Cockerell and Alaster Stewart, having particularly good runs with 66:48 and 66:54 respectfully. They were just ahead of, now m45, Gordon Lee with 3rd Belgrave runner, Paul freary two places further back, closely followed by Matt Shaw, in his Tipton days. Alex Rowe was 1st m45 in 69:39, Richard Ward was 41st in 70:38 and I was 45th in 71:01. Behind me were such notable as; Darren Hale, Lee Dunn and Bev Jenkins of Salford (Bev was 2nd lady in 73:08, Matt Barnes of Altrincham, Paul Simons of Shaftesbury (for once behind me) and Derek Crewe of no club mentioned.
And finally from underneath the bed was a clipping of the 2002 Lara Queens Head 5k from 27 Dec 2002, which was won by Martin Whitehouse of Birchfield in 15:12, with me 2nd in 15:37.
Enough of the nostalgia, here’s hoping the weather in Britain will cheer up soon so we can witness some more great British results.
Written by Roger Alsop