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Brushes with fame

John Walker wins Gold at the 1976 Montreal Olympics
After supervising the regular Thursday morning track session at The Haven this morning I walked a 5km loop wearing my new insoles with arch supports.  It is definitely more comfortable walking with the arch supports, and there is less pain.  It's tempting to try running, though I can tell, when I move my foot in certain ways, that the problem remains.  I don't believe the walk did me any harm, so I'll try the same again tomorrow morning if nothing changes.  Maybe I'll get the bike out on the weekend for some additional exercise.

When relating the tale of my attempt to run the Milford Track in New Zealand in a recent post, I was reminded of another humorous running anecdote from the same trip.  As mentioned, in January 1979, we were a group of four couples on a sightseeing and camping tour of New Zealand in a minibus.  The males in the group were all serious runners and we looked for opportunities to compete in local events wherever possible.  Towards the end of the trip, we managed to talk our way into participating in a high-profile evening international track meeting at Hamilton on the North Island.  It was part of a summer circuit in New Zealand and I suspect we got in more because we were Australians, than because of our talent.

Rod Dixon went on to an exciting and close win
in the 1983 New York Marathon
The Mile was the feature event and New Zealand boasted some of the best Milers in the world at that time.  Two of them, John Walker (Gold Medal 1500m, 1976 Montreal Olympics) and Rod Dixon (Bronze Medal 1500m, 1972 Munich Olympics), were running, along with several other New Zealanders and Ken Hall (Australian Champion 1500m, 1977).  Two of my friends, JB and Pratty, managed to inveigle their way into the Mile field (much to Ken Hall's amazement).

The pace was hot in the Mile and the field well spread out with a lap to go.  John Walker cruised to a win in 3:56 with Rod Dixon second and the rest of the field trailing behind.  Poor Pratty, who wasn't even into the home straight when Walker finished, found himself weaving through fans who had poured on to the track to congratulate their hero, for the last 100m to the finishing line.

Keith and I didn't have the credibility to get into the Mile, but were happy to get a run in the lower key 3000m event.  I finished in 8:37, somewhere in the middle of the field, and later walked back to the changing rooms.  As I approached the door, I was flattered to have an autograph book thrust in front of me by a young track fan until he opened his mouth and asked "Can you please get me John Walker's autograph?"