Aged nineteen, on 22 August 1970, I ran my first marathon in 2:44, followed five weeks later with a 2:41. I was hooked, and in the 43 years since, have run more than 50 marathons. In my 20s I ran a 2:19, in my 30s another 2:19, and in my 40s a 2:38. As I slowed, the love affair began to wane and I only ran two in my 50s, the best of which was a 3:04. Now in my 60s, with an ageing body and chronic injuries, I plan to deploy all of my experience in pursuit of one last sub-3 marathon.
Rolet de Castella (#95) on his way to his first
sub-3 marathon at age 57.
Earlier this month, I wrote a post about Robert de Castella and earlier this week, on ABC Radio, I heard him interviewed at length. During the conversation, the running background of Rolet de Castella, Rob's father, was discussed. I didn't know Rolet well, just enough to say hello, but I did know that he was one of those runners who had defied the odds and revived their running careers after severe heart problems. Rolet had a stroke in 1974 at age 50, and a heart attack a year later, but loved his running so much he was soon back on the roads each time. In 1975 he read about the Pritikin Regression diet, adopted it, and was soon running seriously again. By coincidence, the 1979 Victorian Amateur Athletic Association Marathon Championship was a very big event for Rolet, Rob and me. I found an article by Dick Batchelor in the Spring 1979 edition of the Victorian Marathon Club Newsletter about that day.
DE CASTELLA'S DAY - Dick Batchelor.
The remarkable 2:14:22 run by Rob deCastella at
Point Cook on June 23rd means that Australia now has at least five world-class
marathon runners (Chettle, Barrett, Scott & Wardlaw are the others). These five enjoy a clear margin of four or
five minutes over other Australian runners. Australia must take its full quota to
Moscow next year.
First event at Point Cook was the inaugural
Victorian Women's Marathon Championship, starting at 12:30 in perfect
conditions - cool and almost windless. Very
fittingly, the event was won by Lavinia Petrie, who has fought for such a race
for several years. It must be said that
the women's times were rather slow, but we hear that such accomplished performers
as Angela Cook are training for their debuts, so standards could rise dramatically.
Results: 1. Lavinia Petrie 3:02:07; 2. Kathie
McLean 3:04:33; 3. Jacquie Turney 3:25:29; 4. Barbara Fay 3:25:55; 5. Glenda
Most of the 136 finishers in the men's event
improved on their best times, with increments of 5 or 10 minutes not uncommon. The "traditional" course was used,
an out and back journey with only one hill (an overpass) to be negotiated! When I saw the leaders after they had rounded
the turn, Vic Anderson was striding powerfully in front (67:15 turn) with
deCastella (67:29) and John Bermingham running side by side about 25m back,
followed by Paul 0'Hare (67:31), Dave Byrnes (67:45), Graeme Kennedy (68:05), Bob
Guthrie (68:22) and Neil McKern (68:35).
At 16 miles deCastella took the lead,
Bermingham dropped out but big Vic and the others kept hammering away. At 20 miles, from all accounts (your
correspondent by then being several miles back down the road), Pat Clohessy
urged de Castella to speed up and he cleared away from his pursuers, covering
the final 3 miles in under 15 min!
The very consistent Dave Byrnes came through
strongly in the closing stages to be second in a PB 2:19:06 with Vic Anderson
third after doing so much of the early pace.
As the clock approached the 3½ hours cut-off, few people noticed a compact and mature runner who crossed the line in 127th place – 3:25:14. Four years ago this man suffered a severe
heart attack, despite having been a regular jogger. Encouraged perhaps by the athletic
achievements of his two sons, this man rehabilitated his health with a stepped
up running program and careful dieting. He completed his first marathon last year and
June 23rd was his first time under 3½ hours.
His name? Rolet deCastella, and what a unique "double" he and
his son achieved on June 23, 1979, at Point Cook!!