|Bill running in the 2006|
Bay to Bay 12km Fun Run
I feel a sense of sadness today, because a much-respected Terrigal Trotter died yesterday after a relatively brief illness. Bill had had a good innings, as they say, reaching his late eighties, but even a few months ago he seemed destined to keep recording his Saturday morning runs at Trotters for another few years yet (he was up to 658!).
In his mid-eighties, Bill was a regular at my Tuesday evening track sessions on the grass track in Gosford. He was exasperated with how much speed he had lost in the previous few years, and annoyed that he wasn't making the official cut-off times in races that mattered to him. We decided that it would be a good idea for him to focus on shorter repetitions, 200m and 300m, in the hope of improving his form, stride length and speed. He was still quite capable of completing the regular Trotters Saturday morning runs, so stamina and determination weren't the issues.
Each week he would come down to the track and run his repetitions as fast as he could, which wasn't very fast. I would see him coming down the straight, going as hard as he could, often leaning slightly sideways, with little kids from Frank's squad flying past him - the eight year olds vs the eighty year old. As he crossed the line each time, he would fumble with his watch trying to press the stop button. Sometimes, this would take up to ten seconds, and then he would struggle to read it and tell me his time for recording. Almost invariably, he would be dissatisfied, and would "harrumph" disgustedly before trudging off across the ground to begin his next repetition.
He was everything I want to be in my eighties. Determined not to give in easily to old age, unwilling to accept the standards society seeks to impose on octogenarians, and living his life to the full. He knew, and we knew, that he couldn't go on forever, but that doesn't make it any less sad that he has gone.