|Melbourne High School with the sports ground in the|
foreground where our favourite MHSOB track sessions
was "quarters 'til you chuck".
Melbourne, where I am staying for a week, is inextricably tied to my running career. Almost everywhere I drive, run or walk through the suburbs evokes memories of my early running life. I did run some cross-country races in school, but it was really only when I graduated from Melbourne High School, enrolled at Monash University, and joined the Melbourne High School Old Boys (MHSOB) Athletic Club, that my serious running career began.
|Getting changed (me in foreground) after a run in the|
dunes and a swim at Cape Schanck
In retrospect, it is obvious that during this period (my late teens), the exposure I had to elite athletes, the running friends I made, and the very modest success I enjoyed, set the course for the rest of my life. My training was somewhat erratic and experimental, but I was learning by observing and doing. Some extracts from my training diary are illustrative of my life during this time (with comments in italics).
11 Oct 69 - Pre-season Trials 1 Mile, Dolamore Oval, 4:51.0, unplaced
I have memories of running at Dolamore Oval with Chris Wardlaw for MHSOB and this may have been one of those times.
8 Feb 70 - YMCA Club Championships 100 Yards, 11.2, 5th; YMCA Club Championships 220 Yards, 25.5, 5th
I wasn't yet a member of YMCA, but they let me run in their Club Champs.
16 Mar 70 - 10am. Freddy's warm-up, 10 X 50 Yards fast. Tired.
Fred Lester was a German refugee and a renowned eccentric figure in Australian running, founding the Victorian Marathon Club (VMC) and coaching YMCA athletes. He often set our session training programs, though we didn't always follow them. As I recall, his warm-up was 8 laps striding the straights and jogging the bends.
19 Mar 70 - 9pm. 10 Miles on the road with JB. Tired.
JB and I frequently trained at 9pm at night. I can remember, on some hot nights, we climbed over the fence into the (closed) local public swimming pool to cool off after our runs. We lived about one mile from each other and later, when John got his car, we would often drive somewhere different on those nights and run there for a change, enjoying the liberation of having our own transport.
22 Mar 70 - Sprinting in sand dunes. Tired.
We stayed at a YMCA club-mate's family holiday house in Rye back beach for a training weekend. There were also very competitive games of cricket and volleyball, and games of cards lasting long into the night.
4 Apr 70 - 2pm. Wimmera AC Meeting 880 yards, 2:06.6, unplaced, 220 yards, 25.7, 5th (against Peter Norman!). Felt sick because of lack of sleep and bad food.
We drove up to Horsham late on the Friday night from Melbourne, after a volleyball game, and camped at the oval where the running was held the next day. Peter Norman had won an Olympic silver medal in the 200m in Mexico less than two years earlier, so lining up against him over 220 yards was quite a buzz.
11 Apr 70 - Strathmerton Country Meeting, 2 X 880 yards, 2:09.0 and 2:05.5, unplaced, 3 mile jog. Tired.
We drove up to Strathmerton late on Friday night, after a volleyball game. We camped next to the track and fellow athletes included Olympic athletes, Raelene Boyle and Ray Rigby. The latter, a shot putter, was also astonishingly good at the sprints and high jump.
15 Apr 70 - 3pm. Represented Universities vs Armed Forces in 800m at HMAS Cerberus, 2:04.5, unplaced. Exhausted.
I was just making up the numbers for the Universities, and anybody could run. Monash University, which I was attending, had a number of national and international standard athletes and I was just an also-ran. Ironically, two years later, I was representing the Armed Forces at the same event, after being conscripted to the Australian Army, and running against some of my former team-mates.
1 May 70 - 1:30pm. 2 miles of Monash University Championships 10,000m. Not very tired.
I can't remember this race, but suspect I was totally outclassed by the other runners and chucked it in. Symptomatic of my lack of success over 10,000m on the track, which I always found to be a very tough race. It made me suspect my toughness when the going got tough.
8 May 70 - 5pm. Jog 1 mile, 4 X 100m sprints. Slightly tired. (Hard game of volleyball at 10pm.)
Most of my running friends were very good all-round athletes and we played many seasons of Friday night volleyball at the Balwyn YMCA competition and sometimes on other weeknights in other competitions.
15 May 70 - No training - on way to Brisbane - heavy cold.
I had no car and often hitch-hiked to Brisbane to visit my grandparents and other relatives during university vacations.
6 Jun 70 - 11pm. 10 miles easy. Very tired, came out in a rash.
I can still remember this run up towards Templestowe late on a Saturday night, probably indicative of my social life at the time. It was an easy run but I came out in a strange rash when I got home and can remember showing it to my father who was a bit bemused as to why anybody would be out running at 11pm on a Saturday night (in heavy fog) anyway.
13 Jun 70 - 3pm. APSOB Half Marathon, Yan Yean, 85:54.0 (6:33 per mile, beaten by Dick). Exhausted.
During this time, I considered myself fortunate to be welcomed to many APSOB (Association of Public Schools Old Boys) events because of ex-Marcellin School friends in the YMCA Athletics Club. I wouldn't have been happy about being beaten by Dick, who was a friend and reasonable runner in the YMCA Club, but someone I would have expected to beat. This is probably unfair to Dick and a reflection of my ambitions rather than ability at the time.
20 Jun 70 - 3:30pm. 2½ miles of VAAA 10,000m CCC, Cranbourne. Pulled out because of knee injury (however, not serious).
Perhaps another example of me chucking it in when the going got tough.
5 Jul 70 - 11:30am. 8 miles orienteering. Tired.
I remember competing in some of the first orienteering events in Victoria and this may have been one of them.
16 Jul 70 - 11am. 16 miles from Monash University. Not very tired, but wet, frozen and miserable.
I can still remember arriving back from this run, which was along exposed roads through the windswept hills and paddocks of Melbourne's southeast, to the changing room at the Monash Sports Centre much to the amusement (and, I hoped, admiration) of two star Australian distance runners - Chris Wardlaw and, I think, Bruce Jones - who were about to set off for a shorter training run.
22 Aug 70 - 1:30pm. VAAA Marathon Champs, Werribee, 2:44:55 (6:17 per mile), 7th. Exhausted (20 - 24 miles was the worst), suffered from blisters near the end.
I can still remember sprinting some guy off in the last 100m to capture 7th place and the elation that I felt at being in the top 10 in a State championship. I don't think I had any expectations as to time, but was pleased with the placing. Afterwards, I felt that this must be my distance.