Imagine being part of a running club for 50+ years, the commitment, the loyalty and the experiences. On Friday, my running club Manchester Harriers & A.C, held a commemorative dinner to celebrate the long term involvement of 4 of its members. Jason and I were among those lucky enough to be invited to the dinner, which not only provided an opportunity for a ‘get together’ and running reminiscing but also provoked feelings of appreciating to be involved in the sport of running.
We drove to The Village, Cheadle, confident in the knowledge that Jason knew where the venue was. Apart from it wasn’t where he thought it was, it was actually somewhere else. Luckily we hadn’t gone too far off course and managed to get to the dinner on time. On arrival we bumped into Malcolm and his wife, Julie. We talked about the perils of smoking and why anyone would voluntarily choose to take up smoking. Maybe we should have talked about something else with a man who has ran a sub 4 minute mile, but I cannot pretend that we didn’t talk about smoking. Shortly after, we took our seats on George’s table and the dinner began. Following the meal, the 4 guests of honour gave a speech each.
Danny Herman has been a member of MHAC for 70 years. I know, 70 whole years. I spent most of Danny’s speech in awe of how long he had been involved in the club. Danny told a funny anecdote about lying about his height when entering a race, only to turn up at said race and find out it was a handicap and that he was stuck with all the 6 footers, despite being a lot shorter than this.
Next up was Ian Burnett, who has been a member for 60 years. Originally from Southern England, Ian had moved to Manchester for work and decided to join, M.A.C, as the club was known as then. Ian and his family have been heavily involved in the Primary Schools Cross Country League over the years and among his papers he had examples of the evolution of the primary league certificates, of which his wife and son had contributed to over the years. Ian was also able to provide details of races gone by, such as the Daffodil Marathon, held in Stockport, during the 1980s.
George Lawson, has been with Manchester Harriers for 58 years. George took up running whilst at Manchester Grammar School and discovered that he was quite good at cross country. George is still heavily involved in the club, helping to coach the youngsters and organising ‘the event of the year’ the Christmas Handicap. George is also accredited for getting Richard Wilde (see below) involved in running and as Steve Yates, MHAC President, pointed out ‘every club needs a George Lawson.’
The final speech belonged to Richard Wilde, club member of 51 years. Richard, once held the 3K world indoor record and ran around 13.30 for a 5K, however, he was still typically modest about his achievements. One of Richard’s first running experiences was running round a block by his house 100 times, so maybe this is how all aspiring runners should start out. Richard finished his speech by stating that he believed structured training is key to being successful in running.
Maybe I need to take Richard’s advice and have a proper look into my training schedule. I doubt world records beckon but maybe it would help in getting back to PB standard. The night was extremely enjoyable and it was a great idea of David Gregory, club secretary, for the club to host such an event. Towards the end of the evening David asked me ‘do you think this will be you in 50 years?’ I just laughed. But actually, I’d like to think that I will still be involved with running for the rest of my life, so yes David I hope it will be.
The first hundred years of MHAC’s history has been documented here.